Flower Drum Song / 1959 Studio Cast Recording
* Features unseen photos & in-depth liner notes.
* Bonus tracks (listed below)
"For all the extraordinary textures that are in it, it plays more like a musical comedy than any of the other successful Rodgers and Hammerstein shows." - Ted Chapin, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization
When Oscar Hammerstein visited his friend Joseph Fields during the filming of South Pacific for 20th Century-Fox, Fields mentioned he was in the process of acquiring the rights to The Flower Drum Song, a novel by C. Y. Lee. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, it told the story of a young Chinese-American man torn between his own leanings and his desire to comply with his father’s rigorous, traditional teachings. Intrigued, Hammerstein read the book and immediately saw in it the gem for a new musical. Richard Rodgers also warmed to the idea and the two soon joined Fields as co-librettist and began work on it. The music Rodgers wrote reflected some of the traditions of old China, mixed with the brasher aspects of American culture; his approach found an echo in Hammerstein’s lyrics, which were modeled after Asian poetry on the one hand and contemporary American lingo on the other. As a result, Flower Drum Song emerged as perhaps the team's best-integrated work.
Flower Drum Song
Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, directed by Gene Kelly, orchestration by Robert Russell Bennett.
The noted cast includes:
Miyoshi Umeki as Mei Li the Mail-Order Bride
Pat Suzuki, already famous for her popular song releases, as Linda Low, a nightclub singer
Arabella Hong as Helen Chao, a seamstress and best friend of Linda Low
Jack Soo, who later appeared in the ABC sitcom Barney Miller, portrayed Frankie Wing, Nightclub Emcee
Ed Kennedy as Wang Ta, the young man torn between love and tradition.
Juanita Hall, who earlier sang the role of Bloody Mary in the film South Pacific, portrayed Madam Liang
Larry Storch, who later appeared on TV’s F Troop, portrayed Sammy Fong
Keye Luke, a veteran Hollywood film actor famous as Charlie Chan's rambunctious "Number One Son" portrayed conservative Mr. Wang, the family patriarch.
This entire 1959 production was directed by Gene Kelly with choreography by Carol Haney.
Bonus tracks (listed below) feature arrangements of songs from Flower Drum Song sung by Florence Henderson, Pat Suzuki and Sandra Church recorded just after the premiere in 1958 and 1959.
Catalog Number: SONY50136
Composer: Richard Rodgers
Conductor: Salvatore Dell'Isola
Orchestra/Ensemble: Studio Orchestra
Performer: Arabella Hong, Ed Kenney, Florence Henderson, Juanita Hall, Keye Luke, Larry Blyden, Miyoshi Umeki, Pat Suzuki, Sandra Church