LUDLOW, Vt. – The classic musical “Showboat” will be FOLA’s next presentation on Saturday, May 20, at 7 p.m. in the Heald Auditorium at Ludlow’s Town Hall.
Featuring Ava Gardner, Kathyrn Grayson, and Howard Keel, “Showboat” is the musical that changed Broadway theatre. With music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, it is the story of a Mississippi gambler, his wife, and the crew of a showboat touring cities along the Mississippi. A major part of the story concerns intermarriage between races and how they were dealt with around the turn of the century. This version of the show was released in 1951 by MGM, and directed by George Sidney, based on Edna Ferber’s novel.
The supporting cast featured Joe E. Brown, Marge Champion, Gower Champion, William Warfield, Robert Sterling, Agnes Moorehead, and Leif Erickson.
The plot centers around young Magnolia (Grayson) falling in love with a Mississippi gambler, Gaylord Ravenal (Keel), much to the dismay of her mother (Moorehead), but happiness of her father, Captain Andy Hawks (Brown). This is followed by their marriage. All moves along happily for the new pair, until Gaylord begins to lose gambling and goes into debt. At this point, Magnolia is pregnant. Gaylord leaves her, feeling she would fare better without him.
In order to get by, following the birth of her daughter, Magnolia begins a career as a singer and becomes well-known.
A major sub-plot involves Julie (Gardner), who has been passing as white, her husband, and the local sheriff who accuses Julie of miscegenation, or mixed-race marriage, which was illegal in the south. Julie portrays a singer and actress who then must leave the showboat but follows the career of Magnolia.
The musical highlights include the famous “Old Man River,” as well as “Make Believe,” “Why Do I Love You,” “Life Upon the Wicked Stage,” and the classic old-timer, “After the Ball.”
As with all FOLA movies, everyone is welcome and there is no fee. Donations are appreciated to help defray the costs of the film. Water is provided by the United Church of Ludlow. Information is at www.fola.us and 802-228-3238.