Fanny (1954)

Caroline Altman as Fanny and Pierce Brandt as Marius, her lover, in Fanny, the touching 1954 musical of love, secrets and passion based on Mercel Pagnol's triology of French films, with musical score by Harold Rome

Fanny (1954)

A Musical Play by S.N. Behrman and Joshua Logan,
(Based on the Trilogy of Marcel Pagnol)
Music and Lyrics by Harold Rome

Directed by Barbara Heroux
Musical Director: Brandon Adams

Playbill Notes

Fanny opened in New York Nov. 4th, 1954, starring Ezio Pinza as Cesar, Walter Slezak as Panisse, Willian Tabbert as Marius, and 20 year old newcomer Florence Henderson as Fanny. The show was the first for producer David Merrick. The reviews while unanimously praising Harold Rome's score, were mixed about the massive "super production" Merrick had given the piece, many feeling it was out of synch with the intimacy of Pagnols original films. Following a two-and-a-half year run on Broadwy, Fanny played the San Francisco Civic Light Opera, with Doretta Morrow replacing Miss Henderson. The 1961 film version starred Leslie Caron as Fanny, Charles Boyer as Cesar, and Maurice Chevalier as Panisse. Although three numbers (including "To My Wife") were filmed, they were ultimately delted, and Rome's beautiful score was heard only as underscoring.

Plot Summary

Fanny is a young woman whose childhood love, Marius, leaves her to go to sea as a sailor for five years. His father Cesar, a tavern owner, disowns him. After his departure, Fanny discovers she is pregnant. Under pressure from her mother, she marries Panisse, an older man whose delight at having an heir prompts him to keep the boy's illegitimacy a secret. Marius returns on his son's first birthday to claim both him and Fanny, but he is turned away by Cesar, who is Panisse's best friend. As the years pass the boy, now 13, longs to go to sea like his father, and runs away to join him. This is too much for the now-ill and aged Panisse. Marius brings the boy back to fulfill Panisse's dying wish for Marius and Fanny to be together. (wikipedia)

Press Release

SAN FRANCISCO (25 JULY 1997) -- 42nd Street Moon presents a concert version of the rarely performed musical, Fanny, the fourth show in its Lost Musical Series 1997 "Composer-Lyricist Festival," celebrating five great Broadway composers who also wrote their own lyrics. Adapted by S.N. Behrman and Joshua Logan, Fanny is a moving tale of love, secrets, and passion, based on Marcel Pagnol's trilogy of French films, "Marius," "Fanny" and "Cesar." With stage direction by Barbara Heroux and musical direction by Brandon Adams, Fanny will play at New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco.

This touching musical first premiered in 1954 in New York, when Florence Henderson (then barely 21 and fresh from her first success assuming the role of Laurey in Oklahoma) played the title role. Co-starring with her was Ezio Pinza in the featured role of Cesar, the father of Fanny's childhood flame and best friend to the wealthy man she marries. The New York Times said of the original: "Harold Rome has written an idiomatic score that beautifully conveys the simple emotions ofthe story. He has caught the mood of the Provence setting beautifully." Fanny was also the first show to be produced by theatrical legend David Merrick.

Set in and around the Old Port of Marseilles in Paris, the emotionally complex story tells of a young vroman whose childhood love, Marius, leaver her for the sea. After his departure, she discovers she is pregnant; under pressure from her mother she marries Panisse, an older man whose delight at having an heir prompts him to keep the secret of the son's illegitimacy. Complications arise, however, when the young sailor returns from abroad and neither Fanny nor her son, Cesario, can hide their attraction to him. The hauntingly beautiful score and libretto by Harold Rome includes "Restless Heart," "Welcome Home " "To My Wife" and "Be Kind To Your Parents" as well as the title song.

Fanny was also made into a film in 1961, also directed by Joshua Logan, starring Charles Boyer as Cesar, Leslie Caron as Farmy and Maurice Chevalier (appropriately) as Marius. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, with top competition from "West Side Story," "The Hustler," and "The Guns of Navarone." Charles Boyer was also nominated for Best Actor, and Rome's score for the stage production (used as background music in the film) was nominated for Best Music (Scoring for a Dramatic Picture).

Caroline Altman, a favorite among 42nd Street Moon audiences, will star as Fanny. (Mr.) Kelly Houston will play Cesar; Marius will be played by Pierce Brandt; Darren Criss will play Fanny's son, Cesario; and Lucinda Hitchcock-Cone will be seen as Honorine, Fanny's mother. Featured in major supporting parts will be Doug Graham, Richard Frederick, Matt Callahan, Heidi Zender and Jenni Tennenbaum.

Harold Rame, born in 1908, was best known for his musicals such as Wish You Were Here and Call Me Mister and won an ASCAP award for Best Song of the Year for "Franklin D. Roosevelt Jones," from his musical Sing Out The News. He also wrote music for the Ziegfield Follies, films such as "Babes on Broadway," and numerous Army and Air Force shows during World War II. In writing the score for Fanny, Rome's was confined by directorial guidelines which might have daunted a lesser composer: the music was to be "French but not too French," and sound universally youthful without using any slang or the jazz common to the younger set in 1954. His resulting score and lyrics were more than enough to please Joshua Logan, as well as audiences over the past 43 years.