George Balanchine leaning against a ballet bar during rehearsal.

The 1950s started not too promising for Dennis. He remained a top star, but his films were slowly declining in quality and were greeted with mixed response by his fans. This, according to Lillian Morner, was done on purpose. “Jack Warner wanted to break his contract and he would send him these terrible scripts,” she remarked.

Muriel Smith, who played the lead in Hammerstein's "Carmen Jones."

Marilyn Miller on the cover of a Ziegfeld Theatre program

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Looking through the lens of originality, I fail to see much evidence in La La Land of freshness and imagination. It pleads desperately for a better score than the second-rate throwaways provided by the music and lyrics of pop songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Still, in fairness, director Chazelle’s passions to overhaul movie musicals and rescue the genre from stagnation are worthy of applause. Were Louis B. Mayer alive today, he would have dubbed the two stars with people who know how to carry a tune, but it’s fun to watch them go through the motions. The dialogue gains sparkle when he goes ecstatic about keeping the dying art of jazz alive in the style of his idols, Louis and Bird and Monk and Miles, and the instrumental passages, where he simulates playing jazz riffs with the drive and swing of Bill Evans, are downright thrilling. He has charm and appeal, and she has big doe eyes and a heart-shaped mouth like a Louis Sherry chocolate. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is sumptuous.

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The movie sags badly in the middle, like a worn-out mattress that needs new springs. Months of separation—while she struggles to write and star in a play that flops and he tries to earn enough money playing the kind of New Age music he hates in order to finance his dream of someday opening his own jazz club—has a wearing effect on the film’s trajectory while you patiently wait, hoping something will move the plot along. There’s a fantasy epilogue, with a finale which I would hardly define as optimistic or uplifting.

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CHAPTER 1A SUMMARY OF BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION TREATMENTS FOR THOSE SUFFERING WITH MUSICAL PERFORMANCE ANXIETY Behavioral treatments aimed at reducing the amount of anxiety produced from a performance environment have produced observable behavior changes in individuals with MPA—especially in the areas of anxiety reduction, and self-perception. Bandura, as cited by Kendrick et al. states that “behavioral intervention procedures change defensive behaviors by altering perceptions of self-efficacy…
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Dennis Morgan started out with the very un-Irish name of Stanley Morner on December 20, 1910 [1908]. He was born and raised in the small town of Prentice, Wisconsin, the second of three children. Older brother Kenneth died twelve days before Dennis was born, and the Morners would later have a daughter, Dorothy. Sorting out his ancestry, which bore no trace of Irish, Dennis said: “Dad was a Swedish extraction; my mother was a Van Dusen, of Pennsylvania Dutch origin. Her mother was Scottish.”

Fayard Nicholas and Pearl Bailey in "St. Louis Woman."

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Musical theatre in the 1940s would hit a new zenith with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Oklahoma! Continuing the tradition of having complex plotting and serious storytelling amongst musical numbers, the show offered dream ballets and integrated the music more cohesively into the story, rather than providing dance as an excuse for men to see barely-dressed women. Agnes de Mille was the choreographer for this show, and it revolutionized the format of musical theatre by providing a decided lack of tawdriness and an earnest desire for storytelling that was not present at this level before. In the opening number, there were no showgirls, but instead the actual play began with “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'”. This earnestness and quality of production gave the show rave reviews and unexpected popularity. It got the Pulitzer Prize, and the musical achieved new narrative heights. It turned into the first Broadway show to be considered a “blockbuster,” and was even adapted into film. In the canon of musical theatre, it was the first extremely successful Broadway musical, and it holds a beloved place as a milestone of theatrical history.