Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Original Broadway Cast 1949
This wild song-and-dance extravaganza, based on a book by Anita Loos, focuses on Lorelei Lee, a blonde from Little Rock, who seems at first to be calculating and only interested in material possessions; but she is in fact a curious combination of incredible innocence and genuine generosity. To her almost grim instinct for security in the form of expensive jewelry, she brings a definite flair and a friendliness that are altogether difficult to resist. As the story begins, Lorelei and Dorothy Shaw, her friend from the Follies, are sailing on the Ile de France to Paris, a gift, it seems, from Lorelei’s generous “sugar daddy,” button tycoon Gus Esmond. While Dorothy, tired of Prohibition and its effects in the U.S., is eager to get out to sea where, once beyond the twelve-mile limit, they will be able to drink legally (“It’s High Time”), Lorelei seems unhappy at the idea of leaving her fiancé behind (“Bye Bye Baby”). Once the ship is under way, however, she becomes convinced that Esmond has left her and that she must find a new protector. After all, she explains to Dorothy, she is only “A Little Girl from Little Rock.” In the confined environment of the liner, there are in fact many opportunities to meet suitably accommodating gentlemen, and in no time Lorelei finds herself the object of interest to several of them. Dorothy, for her part, claims that she could love any man, rich or poor – in fact she rather favors the poor – (“I Love What I’m Doing (When I’m Doing It for Love)”), but she finds it difficult to resist Henry Spofford, a wealthy Philadelphia bachelor, whom Lorelei has introduced to her. Soon Dorothy and Henry find they are very much in love (“Just a Kiss Apart”). Meanwhile, Lorelei has become very attracted to a diamond tiara worn by Lady Beekman, another passenger, and, in a carefully planned and executed maneuver, she wheedles Sir Francis (“Piggy”) Beekman into lending her the $5,000 she needs to buy it (“It’s Delightful Down in Chile”). Once in Paris, Dorothy continues to enjoy the changes Henry has brought into her life (“Sunshine”), though when Henry proposes marriage (“You Say You Care”), she expresses misgivings about becoming a Philadelphia matron. Lorelei finds a potential new sugar daddy in Josephus Gage, a zipper manufacturer and ruddy character (“I’m A-tingle, I’m A-glow”). Meanwhile, Lady Beekman, having learned how Lorelei obtained the money to buy the tiara, has set the French police after her. And to add to Lorelei’s embarrassment, Esmond suddenly arrives and finds her entertaining Mr. Gage. Miffed over what he considers Lorelei’s infidelity, Esmond arranges for the nightclub debut of another dancer, Gloria (“Mamie is Mimi”), while Lorelei is left to muse despondently on life and love (“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”). All’s well that ends well, however, and soon Lorelei makes up with Gus Esmond and is able to repay the $5,000 loan from Sir Francis (“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”). Now Dorothy, Henry, Gage, and Mrs. Spofford (Henry’s mother) are missing their dear old New York (“Homesick Blues”) and sail back to the U.S. Back at the Central Park Casino, Dorothy and assembled guests are in a melancholy mood, due to Lorelei’s decision to postpone her wedding to Gus until his father approves. But Dorothy snaps out of it and lifts the spirits of the whole gathering with a rousing finale (“Keeping Cool With Coolidge”).
Dorothy Shaw: Yvonne Adair A Steward: Jerry Craig Lorelei Lee: Carol Channing Gus Esmond: Jack McCauley Frank: Robert Cooper George: Eddie Weston Sunbathers: Pat Donohue, Marjorie Winters Lady Phyllis Beekman: Reta Shaw Sir Francis Beekman: Rex Evans Mrs. Ella Spofford: Alice Pearce Deck Stewards: Bob Burkhardt, Shelton Lewis Henry Spofford: Eric Brotherson An Olympic: Curt Stafford Josephus Gage: George S. Irving Deck Walkers: Fran Keegan, Junior Standish Bill: Peter Birch Gloria Stark: Anita Alvarez Pierre: Bob Neukum Taxi Driver: Kazimir Kokie Leon: Peter Holmes Robert Lemanteur: Mort Marshall Louis Lemanteur: Howard Morris A Flower Girl: Nicole France Maitre d’Hotel: Crandall Diehl Zizi: Judy Sinclair Fifi: Hope Zee Coles and Atkins: Themselves The Tenor: William Krach Policeman: William Diehl Headwaiter: Kazimir Kokie Mr. Esmond, Sr.: Irving Mitchell Show Girls: Pat Donahue, Anna Rita Duffy, Fran Keegan, Annette Kohl, Junior Standish, Marjorie Winters. Singing Ensemble: Angela Castle, Joan Coburn, Ellen McCown, Candy Montgomery, Judy Sinclair, Lucille Udovick, Beverly Jane Weston, Hope Zee; Bob Burkhardt, Jerry Craig, William Diehl, William Krach, Shelton Lewis, Bob Neukum, Curt Stafford, David Vogel.