The musical is based on the Broadway production of "They Knew What They Wanted" by Sidney Howard opened on November 24, 1924 at the Garrick Theater, ran for 192 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1925. See more »
Not up to the original, which I saw on Broadway, but it's the only version to be televised, so it's churlish to complain. I taped it (Great Performances) in 1980, and I'm so glad I did. Giorgio Tozzi, apparently unhappy with the live audio, post-recorded it, and it's obvious. Sharon Daniels is an adequate Rosabella, and the supporting players (Richard Muenz as Joey, Louise Flaningam as Cleo, and especially Adriene Leonetti as Marie) are all excellent. The dancing is topnotch, and the orchestra handles the Don Walker arrangements flawlessly. Whatever the shortcomings of this production, the Loesser music is the real star, and what music! The story (from Howard's "They Knew What They Wanted") tells of Tony, a rancher in the Napa Valley, who falls for a San Francisco waitress, courts her by mail, and, because he is at least 30 if not 40 years older than she, sends her a picture of his handsome young foreman, Joe. She accepts his proposal and arrives in Napa by train, still thinking that Tony is young and handsome. The period is circa 1930. This is Loesser's masterpiece, even surpassing "Guys and Dolls." The music is operatic, and those who have the original full-score LP have a gem, worth preserving. Still, it's nice to see it as well as hear it, and I will second the opinions of those who lament the disappearance of this video. It and so many other wonderful old PBS broadcasts should be recycled. Let's hope someone decides to mine the gold that's in those vaults.
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