Rodgers, Richard. (1902-1979)

Typed Letter Signed about Carousel

Typed letter signed ("Dick") from the important American composer to publisher Angus Cameron, mentioning the success of the new musical Carousel. April 25, 1945; 2 pp. on 2 sheets, in fine condition. 7.25 x 10.5 inches (18.3 x 26.7 cm).

Rodgers thanks Cameron for having him and his wife over for dinner in Boston: "...having broken bread with you in your own house, I find it quite impossible to call you Mr. Cameron," and reports: "In case the news hasn't reached you, I am happy to report that CAROUSEL has turned out to be a walloping success. The demand for tickets is greater than for any other show in New York and even the critical reception is quite wonderful considering the experimental nature of the piece. What is most heartening is the reaction of the audience itself. This, of course, is the public that you and I have discussed at some length and seems to bear out once again our pet theory that the people know more than any of us. Just a few days before we opened, some spy from Random House got into my back and twisted the big muscle at the base of my spine with the result that I have been a cripple ever since. I managed to get to the opening but on a stretcher and I am now just beginning to walk, although with the sensation, appearance, and gait of an eight months' pregnancy. Once I get to work on the book, which should be very soon now, I'll get in touch with you again..."

Following the spectacular success of the first Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Oklahoma! (1943), the pair sought to collaborate on another piece. After some hesitation, they acquired the rights to Ferenc Molnár's play Liliom, about a Budapest carousel barker, and transplanted the setting to coastal Maine, adding a more hopeful ending. The musical required considerable modification during out-of-town tryouts, but once it opened on Broadway on April 19, 1945, it was an immediate hit with both critics and audiences. Carousel initially ran for 890 performances and duplicated its success in the West End in 1950.

Publisher Angus Cameron (1908–2002) had his first success with The Joy of Cooking in 1936, and later promoted J. D. Salinger, Ogden Nash, and various left-wing authors. In the 1950's, he was forced out of Little, Brown in the McCarthyist climate, and was blacklisted from publishing for much of the decade. (17425)