Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Belle of New York

I recently posted about Lowry attending a performance in Torquay in 1933 of this musical comedy on Gutted Arcades of the Past.

Below is a synopsis of the The Belle of New York:

Act 1
Ichabod Bronson is a wealthy hypocrite who preaches virtue to the young, so as to leave more scope for dissipation among the old. His son, Harry, is a feather-brained spendthrift, engaged to Cora Angelique, the Queen of Comic Opera. After a riotous stag night, Harry ends up with Fifi, the daughter of Fricot the confectioner. Ichabod discovers them together and disinherits Harry. Deserted by all but Fifi, Harry wanders into Chinatown in New York, where his fickle fancy is taken by a young Salvation Army woman, Violet Gray. She finds her vocation difficult because, though she tries to persuade men to follow her blameless ways, they persist in following her blameless figure. Ichabod discovers that Violet is the daughter of an old friend and announces his intention to leave his huge fortune to her.

Act 2
Harry has taken a job as a salesman in a candy store on Broadway. Violet and her Salvationist colleagues enter the shop, all decked out in short skirts. She knows that Harry is engaged to Cora and wants the couple to be happy. She tells Harry that she is going to change Ichabod's mind about leaving his money to her. On the beach at Narragansett Casino, she sings a risqué French song, scandalising an audience including Ichabod. The effort of performing the song causes her to faint. Matters are further complicated by the persistent attempts of a German lunatic to kill people, particularly Ichabod, and by the quarrels of Portuguese twins, who keep trying to fight duels with one another. Harry has indeed been much influenced by Violet's virtue and has fallen for her. He explains to his father why Violet has behaved so uncharacteristically, and Ichabod forgives him his earlier sins on condition that he marries Violet, which he is now happy to do.

In a letter to Jan Gabrial in the Summer of 1933, Lowry said he went to see the musical comedy because of the title - likening Jan to the belle of New York - where she was from. However, the plot had funny coincidental undertones to Lowry's life a the time - the idea mooted by Lowry later that his father was a hypocrite - dying of cirrhosis of the liver (untrue); Arthur Lowry may have thought Malc a spendthrift having just smashed up his car while staying in Torquay, the idea of disinheritance because of his behaviour haunted Lowry, a month before he had "hidden" Jan from his father when his father paid him a visit in Portmeirion though the happening end of the musical comedy didn't transpire for Lowry and Jan.

Here is a selection of songs from the musical comedy:

No comments:

Post a Comment