by E.Y. Harburg
and Fred Said
by Burton Lane
by E.Y. Harburg
by Lee Sabinson & William Katze
by Bretaigne Windust
by Michael Kidd
Opened January 10, 1947 at the 46th Street Theatre, (New York
) and ran for 725 performances.
Two plots intertwine in this delightful old fashioned musical. One involves the emigration of an Irishman named Finian McLonergan and his daughter Sharon to America, where he believes he can grow rich by planting the crock of gold he stole from the leprechauns. He's pursued to Rainbow Valley, Missitucky by one of the wee people, Og , who's anxious to get the gold back before he and his brethren lose their powers and turn mortal. The other storyline focuses on the economic oppression of the Rainbow Valley sharecroppers, black and white, at the hands of a bigoted senator. Their leader is Woody Mahoney, a union organizer who falls in love with Sharon. In order to correct the senator's racist tendencies, he is turned into a black man after Sharon inadvertently makes a wish over the pot of gold. After living several days as a misfit in the eyes of his people, the senator is returned to normal. In typical Broadway fashion, all problems are resolved by the end of the second act. Despite its apparently trite plot, Finian's Rainbow was one of the few shows of its time to contain a politically influenced story line. It was later made into a movie starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark, which was also Francis Ford Coppola's directorial debut.
This was also the first show that I ever performed in, back in my sophomore year of high school, so my love for it is partially due to the personal connection it holds. Every year my town does a summer show open to anyone who wishes to participate from grades 8-12. After this, I made sure to continue performing until I graduated. For this show, I held the esteemed role of Hal the sharecropper. Of course, this meant I was basically living scenery, but I made friends and had a lot of fun. My big moment came in the Act 2 opening number, "When The Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich". Before the song got into full swing, the ensemble would put on a fashion show in celebration of the town's newfound wealth. Those who had the most impressive costumes were treated to a spotlight walk down center stage lined by the rest of the chorus in their various outfits. Having recently been to Las Vegas, I modeled my costume after those extravagant outfits worn by Liberace. At the theater I found a flowing, silver cape covered with glitter. With this marvelous find as my inspiration, I proceeded to decorate a tophat and suit jacket with silvery material until I was completely immersed in shiny glory. When I would wak down to the lip of the stage every night, blinding the audience with my majestic robe, I felt beautiful. Upon reaching the front, I would blow a haughty kiss to the crowd and walk back to take my place amongst the rest of the ensemble. I never again had such a moment in my theater career, but after this experience I was hooked.