By John E. Vacha
Recognizing a development within the early Nineteen Fifties of staging summer season theater within the around lower than tents, Clevelander John L. rate Jr. determined to provide it a attempt. Consulting an area statistician to figure out the geographical middle of the culturally vulnerable inhabitants, the bull's eye fell in Warrensville Heights, a Cleveland suburb that used to be additionally the house to Thistledown Race music. expense opened his Musicarnival there, at the grounds of the race song, with a construction of Oklahoma! in the summertime of 1954. The song Went 'Round and round tells the tale of this targeted summer season theater and of its ebullient founder John L. fee Jr. Price's enterprise was once one of many final advertisement valid theaters verified in Cleveland. In its heyday the Musicarnival had a means of 2500 and awarded a regular of 8 to 10 exhibits every one summer season. Theater within the around used to be a novelty for either administrators and audiences. The spine of the repertoire consised of such musical classics as Carousel; Kiss Me, Kate; fantastic city; Fanny; Paint Your Wagon; and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Occassionally, expense attempted to sneak in an opera, letting the preferred exhibits pay for those operatic flings.
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Extra resources for The Music Went 'Round and Around: The Story of Musicarnival
The architect responded with a cement blockhouse topped with a “butterfly roof” for dressing rooms, ticket offices, and other ancillary functions. Meanwhile, Little’s steel tripod was raised and ready to receive its canvas covering. Early in June the $15,000 tent, comprising 4,500 yards of flameproof fabric, arrived in nine sections from the Central Canvas Company of Kansas City. The blue “roof” was raised with the aid of a fifty-foot crane and a mile and a half of Manila rope. When in place, it measured 140 feet in diameter.
The idea was strangled by Army red tape. Back home Terrell followed through on his own by opening the Music Circus in 1949 in Lambertville, New Jersey, with a production of The Merry Widow. Music Circus was located on the Delaware River, about twenty miles north of Philadelphia, and financed in part by Terrell’s Army craps winnings and the family perfume business. The novelty quickly attracted a broad, popular following. “The tent reduces the country people’s distrust of the theater’s forbidding formalities,” he explained.
Whenever I think of South Pacific, I visualize it in the round. The Rodgers and Hammerstein characters populate a circular, nearly bare stage, symbolic of the lonely island on which the action takes place. They are surrounded on all sides by an unbroken sea—the faces of the audience. I first saw South Pacific, of course, at Musicarnival. Along with an entire generation of Clevelanders, I saw quite a few classics of the American musical stage for the first time at Musicarnival. For those of us who missed the touring New York companies at the Hanna Theatre, John Price’s tent theater in Warrensville Heights more often than not gave us our next chance to catch those shows in a professional production.