Monday, January 07, 2013

Ernest In Love

I was in a production of this in college, and was always a bit ashamed of it.  It is a musical based on Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest, with words and lyrics having been done around 1960 by Lee Pockriss, better-known for his "Itsy-Bitsy-Teenie-Weenie-Yellow-Polka-Dot-Bikini," Perry Como's "Catch a Falling Star," and (still remembered at our house) "Tracy" by the Cufflinks. One thinks: Who dares write music to capture Wilde?

With the fashionable contempt that we true artistes had for such popularised efforts, I learned quickly to speak with an amused aloofness about the production in the department, even among those of us who were in the cast.  This gets doubly hard when your own contribution isn't so glamorous. About like this:

The actual song-and-dance number was "Come Raise Your Cup," which opened the show.  After which we were never seen again.

I have reconsidered my earlier snobbishness and repent.  Yes, the songs do not equal Oscar Wilde's standard, but what could?  They stand up to it, at least.  Years later I still remember most of the lyrics and chuckle at some of the lines:
(Cecily) I read in the London daily papers
That women, somewhat advanced in years
Resort to the most outrageous capers
They all seem to fancy
A younger girl's fiance
It came to mind because of the Froude post, as a subsequent verse has the line "She's far more Victorian than Edwardian" (to rhyme with guardian, of course.)

Most of the youtube offerings of the show are an untranslated Japanese production.  I have still not quite adjusted to this.  This song - not the best in the show, but clever - is from a German production, yet the song lyrics are in English. They have butchered it with obviousness.  The phrase make love was much milder in Wilde's day and even 1960, meaning flirtation, a few secret kisses.  The entire intent of the song is that the butler and ladies' maid maintain public decorum while hinting that something more is taking place.  Ah well.

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