A stage production of the classic musical, videotaped in front of a live audience at the Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey.



(novel), (play)


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Episode credited cast:
Shelly Burch ...
Julie LaVerne
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marsha Bagwell ...
Parthy Ann Hawks
Lauren Gaffney ...
Young Kim
Larry Grey ...
Jim Green
Robert Jensen ...
Steve Baker
Michael McCarty ...
Lenora Nemetz ...
Monte Ralstin ...
Lee Roy Reams ...
Frank Schultz
Lawrence Vincent ...
Windy McLain


A stage production of the classic musical, videotaped in front of a live audience at the Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey.

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Release Date:

27 October 1989 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The character Rubber Face Smith is omitted from this production, as is now the usual practice. Rubber Face was played in the 1927, 1932 and 1946 stage productions of "Show Boat" by Francis X. Mahoney, who is the only actor associated with the role. He also played it in the 1936 film version and in a 1948 City Center revival of the show shortly before his death. Since Mahoney's death, the role, a tiny one to begin with, and one having almost nothing to do with the plot, has often been omitted. In this 1989 production of "Show Boat", Rubber Face's lines are given to Windy, the ship's pilot. See more »


Pete: Where'd you all get that brooch you're wearing?
Queenie: You mean this scrumptious piece of jewelry?
Pete: Where'd you get it, nigger?
Queenie: It was give to me.
Pete: Who give it to yuh?
Queenie: Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.
Queenie: That man - askin' me where I gets my jewelry!
See more »


Version of Show Boat (1936) See more »


Ol' Man River
(second reprise)
Hummed by offstage chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

A PBS Broadcast of a revival of the 1927 Musical Comedy Play
16 April 2003 | by See all my reviews

Taped during a repeat broadcast of the Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey production of "ShowBoat" based upon Edna Ferber's 1926 Novel.

Before obtaining this copy, we had never seen the film versions from 1929, 1936 and 1951 (In 1940, my parents took me to see the 1936 version on the big screen but I spent most of the time hiding under my seat - some scenes, especially those showing cotton bales being loaded, frightened me. I did, however retain some of the songs.) So, we had nothing with which to compare the Paper Mill stage production. Our fortuitous VHS copy inspired us to try to find a CD to help us remember the music. We wound up with a copy of the Angel/EMI CD; which is a symphonic version of this popular score. Only recently have we been able to see the 1936 Film Version; again, we caught a showing on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

IMPRESSIONS - Paper Mill Playhouse

We had a great time staying up late to monitor the production; it provided us with some laughs and brought us to tears, the ending was a happy one as required by Theatrical Comedy. The Paper Mill Playhouse did not have the budget nor the space on the stage for a huge cast. We have viewed this tape several times and we have noticed the same actress working different parts in several scenes. Well, she was from a small troupe in a small town.

COMPARISONS - to 1926 Book and 1936 Movie and 1988 CD Recording

The adaptation compresses the adventures of many of Edna Ferber's characters between 1888 to 1927. Some roles from the book are changed in time and place, even switched from one of Ferber's to another person. All to suit the occasion and the size of the theatre.

The 1936 film deleted a favorite song: "Life on the Wicked Stage" but added another couple we had never heard. Also, to reduce the running time, some song repeats were deleted.

The 1988 CD is a reconstruction of the December 1927 Opening Night score.


Having lived with the Paper Mill Playhouse production, having read the Book, listened to the CD and seen the 1936 Film; I think that any one of them is still a lot of fun. Regardless of the exact selections of songs, the score is fun to hear, the songs set the toes to tapping and are easy to remember. I think the varied casting does nothing to change what is an excellent story. The same goes for the variations in staging. To me it doesn't matter what I am hearing or seeing, the story of "ShowBoat" transcends all and I like them all.

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