Wes Sanders and Mary Lena Patterson, left.Showboat title Wes Sanders and Mary Lena Patterson, very close, right.   
bottom & links
Wes Sanders '59 and Mary Lena Patterson '59 in Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's adaptation of the Edna Ferber novel.     If the layout is jumbled, pull your browser window open wider to make room. 
Click any photo to enlarge.

Anne Knodel.                              Showboat9Nov-EKreuger+BobDuncan-d1975.  
Anne Knodel '60.  We need an address for this lady -- is anyone in touch? (Contact info for Jerry is on the first page; you can use your "back" button to return.)   Ellen Krueger '60 and Bob Duncan '60 (d. 1975) on the right. 

Paul Achenback '59

WHblackfaceInRedEnsembleScene    WHO+ChuckWIndley.
On the right is Chuck Windley '60 as Can'n Andy.   We need the other names.  Please write if you have a good guess. 

End photos of Showboat.  Sorry about the flash -- I managed other shows in available light -- much more natural.

The History of Show Boat

In 1925, Edna Ferber spent several weeks on the James Adams Floating Palace Theater in Bath, North Carolina, gathering information for a novel about a disappearing American phenomenon: the River Show Boat. Her  best-selling "Show Boat" was published in 1926.

Show Boat is the story of three generations of the Hawks family on the River Boat, The Cotton Blossom.  It follows the fortunes of Magnolia Hawks and her gambling husband Gaylord Ravenal.   Magnolia, or "Noli," struggles throughout the story with her relationship to the Cotton Blossom, owned by her parents, Captain Andy Hawks and his wife, Parthy. Interwoven into the story of the Hawks and the Ravenals is the story of the black workers and stevedores along the Mississippi and on the Cotton Blossom. Queenie and Joe figure significantly in the lives of the family, and are also part of a sub-plot on the plight of African-American workers in the Post-Civil War South. Julie La Verne is a racially mixed performer on the Cotton Blossom whose husband, Steve, is white. The couple is banned from the floating theater by a strictly enforced local law against miscegenation.

In the second act of the book, Noli and Ravenal separate, and she leaves the familiar stage of the River Boat and the waters of the Mississippi for Chicago, and a future as a musical comedy star. Magnolia and Ravenal's daughter, Kim Ravenal, follows in her mothers footsteps as an actress and performer. The second act climaxes in the reunion of Magnolia and Gay as they watch their daughter, who has achieved international stardom, perform as they had years before. The entire plot of the novel and the book is tied together by the dominant image of the Mississippi River. Ferber's motif is beautiful: the characters in the story float through their lives, moving through both peaceful and turbulent times, much as the Cotton Blossom navigates the unpredictable waters of the Mississippi.

Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II created the original Broadway show, produced by Florenz Ziegfield.  It opened December 27, 1927 -- an immediate success. 

The next production of Edna Ferber's Show Boat was the original Hollywood version of1936. Director James Whale brought the activities on the Cotton Blossom to life with many of the same faces from the Broadway original. Helen Morgan, Charles Winninger and Paul Robeson all brought their Broadway roles to the screen.

A second Hollywood adaptation, directed by George Sidney, was released in 1951  This reproduction had a distinct Hollywood flavor, and had lost some of the charming innocence of the both the original Broadway and the original Hollywood versions. The motion picture, however, was again a tremendous success, and the cast recording of the music not only sold well, but also further solidified the place of Show Boat's score in the history of musical film and musical theater. 

The most recent adaptation of the original production was Hal Prince's 1994 revival.

Edited.  Original source and more info here.
This appears to be from a 1996 Final Project of student Gerard Saviola
at UVa, but all credit and reference to the student has been removed from the Web materials.  Tut, tut. 

Show Boat changed the course of theater, redirecting the emphasis from the heavy operettas and the superficial music comedies which had dominated Broadway. Characters were far more three-dimensional, the integration of music and plot was far more skillfully maneuvered.  More important,  Kern and Hammerstein had the courage to focus on more complex and socially unconventional topics. Show Boat investigates race relations, miscegenation, and unhappy marriages while remaining entertaining and musically beautiful. This balance is an eternal legacy of the original production.

--Alan B. Howard (edited), Gerard Saviola's professor.
--end ShowBoat

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