- Lost in the Stars
name= Lost in the Stars
basis= Alan Paton's 1948 novel
Cry, the Beloved Country"
"Lost in the Stars" is a
1949musical with book and lyrics by Maxwell Andersonand music by Kurt Weill, based on the novel " Cry, the Beloved Country" ( 1948) by Alan Paton(1903-1988).
The original production opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre on
October 30 1949and closed on July 1 1950after 273 performances. The original cast included Todd Duncanand Inez Matthews.
Background and critical reception
Weill was influenced by
African Americanmusical idioms through his use of spiritual melodies, bluesand jazz. "Lost in the stars" was his last completed work before he died in 1950.
In his opening-night review,
New York Timescritic Brooks Atkinsonsaid that Maxwell Anderson had encountered "obvious difficulty" in transforming "so thoroughly a work of literary art" into theatre, and was sometimes "skimming and literal where the novel is rich and allusive." He suggested that people might not fully appreciate the play if they were unfamiliar with the novel. He praised Anderson's "taste and integrity" and described the last scene as "profoundly moving." Robert Garland, writing in the Journal American, similarly commented that "the beauty and simplicity of Paton's book infrequently comes through."
In contrast, Atkinson felt that the music positively added to the experience of the novel: "here the theatre has come bearing its most memorable gifts. Mr. Weill has given the theatre some fine scores, but... it is difficult to remember anything out of his portfolio as eloquent as this richly orchestrated singing music.... [It is] overflowing with the same compassion that Mr. Paton brought to his novel.... The music is deep, dramatic, and beautiful."
Lost in the Stars
The title song "Lost in the Stars" enjoyed a measure of popular success, and versions of it were recorded by
Anita O'Day, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennettand many others. The words, which in the musical are those of the minister Stephen Kumalo at the depth of his desperation, tell how God once "held all the stars in the palm of his hand" "and they ran through his fingers like grains of sand, and one little star fell alone." Kumalo says that God sought and found the little lost star and "stated and promised he'd take special care so it wouldn't get lost again." But at times he thinks that God has forgotten his promise and that "we're lost out here in the stars."
"Lost in the Stars" invites comparison with "
Porgy and Bess"; both were originally produced by Rouben Mamoulian, and both featured Todd Duncanin the leading role.
The musical was adapted for the screen in 1974 and released as part of the
American Film Theatreseries. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071773/ IMDB entry for the 1974 film] ]
* The Hills of Ixopo – Leader and Singers
* Thousands of Miles – Stephen Kumalo
* Train to Johannesburg – Leader and Singers
* The Search – Stephen Kumalo, Leader and Singers
* The Little Gray House – Stephen Kumalo and Singers
* Who'll Buy? – Linda
* Trouble Man – Irina
* Murder in Parkwold – Singers
* Fear! – Singers
* Lost in the Stars – Stephen Kumalo and Singers ;Act II
* The Wild Justice – Leader and Singers
* O Tixo, Tixo, Help Me! – Stephen Kumalo
* Stay Well – Irina
* Cry, the Beloved Country – Leader and Singers
* Big Mole – Alex
* A Bird of Passage – Villager and Singers
* Four O'Clock – Singers
Singing roles and original cast
* Leader (
tenoror high baritone) – Frank Roane
* Stephen Kumalo (baritone) –
* Linda (singer-dancer) – Sheila Guyse
* Irina (
mezzo-soprano) – Inez Matthews
* Alex (boy
soprano) – Herbert Coleman
* [http://www.theatrehistory.com/american/musical026.html Description of the musical]
* [http://theater2.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?_r=1&res=9A0DE7DF1538F933A05757C0A960948260&oref=slogin 1986 "NY Times" review]
* [http://www.kwf.org/pages/works/l7main.html Kurt Weill Foundation summary]
* [http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=5562 IBDB entry for "Lost in the Stars"]
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