Opened at the Music Box in New York on December 26, 1931. 441 performances. Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. Directed by George S. Kaufman. Dances staged by Georgie Hale. Produced by Sam H. Harris. Cast included William Gaxton, Lois Moran, Victor Moore, Grace Brinkley, George Murphy, June O’Dea, Florenz Ames, Dudley Clements, and Ralph Riggs.
The most successful of the three political satires written by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and the Gershwins, OF THEE I SING seems to become more relevant as the years have made us privy to the shenanigans of our politicians in Washington, DC. John P. Wintergreen runs for President on a “love” platform, promising to marry the winner of a beauty contest in Atlantic City and to woo her through all forty-eight states. The candidate cannot make good on his promise, as he falls for Mary Turner, the pageant coordinator, because of her delectable corn muffins. Victorious, Wintergreen’s presidency is almost brought down by Diana Devereaux, the spurned pageant winner, and France (after all, she is an illegitimate daughter of an illegitimate son of an illegitimate nephew of Napoleon). Mary saves the day, however, by sensibly giving birth to twins in the White House, creating the perfect distraction from her husband’s political troubles.
OF THEE I SING was the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was televised by CBS in 1972 with Carroll O’Connor on leave from ALL IN THE FAMILY and Cloris Leachman at liberty from THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW playing John and Mary.
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