Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin | Book by Morrie Ryskind | Based on a story by B. G. DeSylva
The plot machinations of this 1940 hit musical could have been ripped from today's headlines. Set in New Orleans, the musical lampoons Huey Long and his stronghold on Louisiana politics. When Senator Loganberry arrives in the Big Easy to investigate the dubious doings at the Louisiana Purchasing Company, it isn't long before he's set up for plenty of scandal himself. In his review of the recent Carnegie Hall concert - the first time the musical had been seen or heard since its original Broadway run - New York Times critic Lawrence Van Gelder posited, 'Does the South still produce corrupt Democratic politicians and businessmen? Are there still Republican senators eager to expose them to further their own Presidential ambitions? Is sex still a weapon in these wars?' LOUISIANA PURCHASE answers these questions with a gleeful wink of the eye and a score full of Berlin magic!
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About The Show

News for Louisiana Purchase
History for Louisiana Purchase

Production Info


Create/Order Merch for Louisiana Purchase

To request the rights to make merchandise for this show email brian.sherman@rnh.com.

Fan Info:

News for Louisiana Purchase

Irving Berlin had two musicals playing in New York at the same time this spring when a revival of THE COCOANUTS at American Jewish Theatre extended its run... read more

The R&H Concert Library is proud to announce that a symphonic suite from THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA is now available. read more

This spring THE KING AND I will return to Broadway, beginning performances at the Neil Simon Theatre on March 20... read more

Trivia for Louisiana Purchase

In 1940 LOUISIANA PURCHASE opened at the Imperial Theatre, New York. The score included "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow."""

 Press for Louisiana Purchase

  • Quotes
"4 stars out of 4!...Highly sophisticated Berlin, full of big-band jazz and tight vocal harmonies." — USA Today, January 01, 1996
"…An unjustly forgotten gem…One of the funniest and sharpest political satires!" — Examiner.com, January 01, 1940
"…An unjustly forgotten gem…One of the funniest and sharpest political satires!" — Examiner.com, January 01, 2009
"Berlin's score is one of his best, with no fewer than seven showstoppers." — Hollywood Reporter
"Pure heaven." — Variety, January 01, 1996
"We're sold on LOUISIANA PURCHASE." — New York Daily News, January 01, 1996
"Berlin's score is one of his best, with no fewer than seven showstoppers." — Hollywood Reporter, January 01, 1996
"A sly political satire." — New York Magazine, January 01, 1996

Musical Numbers for Louisiana Purchase

Song #
Song Name
Character Name
Play
Other Versions



A Look Back

By Robert Kimball

In May 1940, as Hitler's armies smashed through Holland and Belgium and drove the British and French forces back to coastal parts of Nieuwpoort and Dunkerque, the great Gallic musical star Irene Bordoni, for many Americans the embodiment of France, stood on the stage of New York's Imperial Theatre in Irving Berlin's LOUISIANA PURCHASE. Her voice breaking, her eyes filled with tears, night after night Bordoni sang Berlin's poignant song of hope "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow" while friends and family -- their fate uncertain -- were trapped behind enemy lines.

Opening May 23, 1940 at the Imperial Theatre, LOUISIANA PURCHASE was a triumphant return to Broadway for the 52-year-old Berlin after more than six years in Hollywood writing such memorable songs as "Cheek to Cheek," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." "I was not avoiding Broadway," he later recalled. "I just had lots of ideas that did not pan out at the time." Among them was a show variously titled THE CRYSTAL BALL and MUSIC BOX REVUE OF 1939 for which "Sex Marches On" and a few other songs used in LOUISIANA PURCHASE were first written.

The original production cost $100,000 to mount and bring to Broadway. The producer was B. G. (Buddy) DeSylva. The book by Morrie Ryskind was based on an idea by DeSylva—a lightly satiric commentary on sex and political corruption in the South. The ballets were by George Balanchine. Pulling in $34,000 a week, the show quickly established a new house record and became Main Stern's top-grossing attraction. When it closed in June 1941, it had become the first book musical since OF THEE I SING (1931) to run for more than a year. There was a 1941 film version with Bob Hope, a post-Broadway tour, and occasional revivals. Among the most recent, enthusiastically endorsed by Berlin, who had considered updating the script to reflect the Watergate scandal, was at the Goodspeed Opera House (East Haddam, Connecticut) in 1975. "I was always happy with LOUISIANA PURCHASE," Berlin told me. "But it might have become better known if it had opened a few years later and received an original cast recording."

In June of 1996, Carnegie Hall presented LOUISIANA PURCHASE in six performances (June 19-23) at its Weill Recital Hall. It was the first time that the score had been presented in New York since the original production closed late in the spring of 1941. Rob Fisher, who is also music director of City Center's ENCORES! series, conducted the original orchestrations. The Carnegie cast, heard on this recording, was headed by Judy Blazer, Taina Elg, Debbie Gravitte, George S. Irving, and Michael McGrath in the roles created respectively by Vera Zorina, Irene Bordoni, Carol Bruce, Victor Moore and William Gaxton.

One person who remembers the 1940 production "as clearly as if it were yesterday" is original cast member Carol Bruce, who made her Broadway debut in the show and later went on to star in the famed 1946 revival of SHOW BOAT. "There are so many things I could say about Irving. He was already a legend when he heard me sing and offered me a part in the show, but he was so caring and supportive. What a thrill to be able to sing those songs."

In addition to "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow," the score includes the exquisite "Fools Fall in Love," the ebullient "Outside of That I Love You" and "You Can't Brush Me Off," the amusing "Sex Marches On" and "What Chance Have I With Love," and the bluesy, rhythmically delectable title number. It's easy to understand why Ira Gershwin said of his friend and colleague that "when Berlin was at the top of his form, as he was in LOUISIANA PURCHASE, there was no one greater."


A Look Back

By Robert Kimball

In May 1940, as Hitler's armies smashed through Holland and Belgium and drove the British and French forces back to coastal parts of Nieuwpoort and Dunkerque, the great Gallic musical star Irene Bordoni, for many Americans the embodiment of France, stood on the stage of New York's Imperial Theatre in Irving Berlin's LOUISIANA PURCHASE. Her voice breaking, her eyes filled with tears, night after night Bordoni sang Berlin's poignant song of hope "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow" while friends and family -- their fate uncertain -- were trapped behind enemy lines.

Opening May 23, 1940 at the Imperial Theatre, LOUISIANA PURCHASE was a triumphant return to Broadway for the 52-year-old Berlin after more than six years in Hollywood writing such memorable songs as "Cheek to Cheek,"Let's Face the Music and Dance," and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."I was not avoiding Broadway," he later recalled. "I just had lots of ideas that did not pan out at the time." Among them was a show variously titled THE CRYSTAL BALL and MUSIC BOX REVUE OF 1939 for which "Sex Marches On" and a few other songs used in LOUISIANA PURCHASE were first written.

The original production cost $100,000 to mount and bring to Broadway. The producer was B. G. (Buddy) DeSylva. The book by Morrie Ryskind was based on an idea by DeSylva—a lightly satiric commentary on sex and political corruption in the South. The ballets were by George Balanchine. Pulling in $34,000 a week, the show quickly established a new house record and became Main Stern's top-grossing attraction. When it closed in June 1941, it had become the first book musical since OF THEE I SING (1931) to run for more than a year. There was a 1941 film version with Bob Hope, a post-Broadway tour, and occasional revivals. Among the most recent, enthusiastically endorsed by Berlin, who had considered updating the script to reflect the Watergate scandal, was at the Goodspeed Opera House (East Haddam, Connecticut) in 1975. "I was always happy with LOUISIANA PURCHASE," Berlin told me. "But it might have become better known if it had opened a few years later and received an original cast recording."

In June of 1996, Carnegie Hall presented LOUISIANA PURCHASE in six performances (June 19-23) at its Weill Recital Hall. It was the first time that the score had been presented in New York since the original production closed late in the spring of 1941. Rob Fisher, who is also music director of City Center's ENCORES! series, conducted the original orchestrations. The Carnegie cast, heard on this recording, was headed by Judy Blazer, Taina Elg, Debbie Gravitte, George S. Irving, and Michael McGrath in the roles created respectively by Vera Zorina, Irene Bordoni, Carol Bruce, Victor Moore and William Gaxton.

One person who remembers the 1940 production "as clearly as if it were yesterday" is original cast member Carol Bruce, who made her Broadway debut in the show and later went on to star in the famed 1946 revival of SHOW BOAT. "There are so many things I could say about Irving. He was already a legend when he heard me sing and offered me a part in the show, but he was so caring and supportive. What a thrill to be able to sing those songs."

In addition to "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow," the score includes the exquisite "Fools Fall in Love," the ebullient "Outside of That I Love You" and "You Can't Brush Me Off," the amusing "Sex Marches On" and "What Chance Have I With Love," and the bluesy, rhythmically delectable title number. It's easy to understand why Ira Gershwin said of his friend and colleague that "when Berlin was at the top of his form, as he was in LOUISIANA PURCHASE, there was no one greater."


Awards for Louisiana Purchase

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Photos for Louisiana Purchase

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Writers Notes for Louisiana Purchase

daughter of Irving Berlin
Written By: Linda Emmet

LOUISIANA PURCHASE, which opened in May, 1940, was my first exposure to American Musical Theatre. I was, at the time, an impressionable eight-year-old and this particular musical would be etched into my memory.

My father, of course, went on to other projects and LOUISIANA PURCHASE, a presence over the summer of 1940, diminished and disappeared. It had, however whetted my appetite and I went on to see many more musicals after that.

In the 1970s I was able to buy a pirated recording of LOUISIANA PURCHASE and it sparked a renewed interest which would eventually become an obsession about the show. At times my effort became somewhat of a struggle since many people assumed that a forgotten little known work is not worth reviving.

On the contrary LOUISIANA PURCHASE has come out of mothballs as fresh as it was in the spring of 1940.


Performance Tools for Louisiana Purchase

Playbill VIP:

MAKE YOUR OWN PLAYBILL! Playbill VIP allows you to create your very own Playbill Program. We have provided Playbill with all of the credits, song listings, musical numbers and more so that most of the work is already done for you. Just add your productions details, photos of the cast and share it with all of your friends. Learn more: www.playbillvip.com


Rental Materials for Louisiana Purchase

STANDARD

  • LOUISIANA PURCHASE - Orchestration Package (21 Books/25 Players)
    • 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
    • 1 – REED I (Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone)
    • 1 – REED II (Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
    • 1 – REED III (Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone)
    • 1 – REED IV (Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Oboe, English Horn)
    • 1 – REED V (Flute, Alto Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone)
    • 1 – TRUMPET I
    • 1 – TRUMPET II
    • 1 – TRUMPET III
    • 1 – TROMBONE I
    • 1 – TROMBONE II
    • 2 – DRUMS/PERCUSSION (see "Materials Notes", under "Production Information")
    • 1 – GUITAR
    • 1 – VIOLIN A (Divisi)
    • 1 – VIOLIN B (Divisi)
    • 1 – VIOLIN C (Divisi)
    • 1 – VIOLA (Divisi)
    • 1 – CELLO (Divisi)
    • 1 – BASS
    • 1 – Piano
  • Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
    • 20 – Libretto-Vocal Books
    • 1 – Logo CD
    • 2 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
    • Digital Logo

ADDITIONAL

  • Libretto/Vocal Books 10 pack
    • 10 – Libretto-Vocal Books
  • LOUISIANA PURCHASE - PRE-PRODUCTION PACKAGE
    • 1 – Libretto-Vocal Books
    • 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE

Cast Requirements for Louisiana Purchase

PRINCIPALS
3 Women
2 Men

FEATURED
3 Women
8 Men

ENSEMBLE
Singing Chorus

CHARACTERS
A Secretary
Sam Liebowitz, a lawyer
Colonel Davis D. Davis, Sr.
Colonel Davis D. Davis, Jr. ('Junior')
Dean Joseph T. Manning
Captain Whitfield
Jim Taylor
Beatrice, an employee at Madame Bordelaise's café
Lee Davis, the second son of Col. Davis
Emmy-Lou, the niece of Jim Taylor
Marina Van Linden
Madame Yvonne Bordelaise - proprietress of a cafe
Senator Oliver P. Loganberry
Alphonse - a waiter at Madame Bordelaise's cafe
A Singing Quartet (2 Women, 2 Men)

Set Requirements for Louisiana Purchase

LOUISIANA PURCHASE takes place in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, 1940.

SPECIFIC LOCATIONS
Sam Liebowitz's Office
The Library of The Jefferson Davis Club
A New Orleans Street Corner
Madame Bordelaise's Café
A Small Park Across the Street from Madame Bordelaise's Café
A Private Room Upstairs in Madame Bordelaise's Café
The Beaux Arts Ball
Senator Loganberry's Hotel Bedroom
Baton Rouge
Outside the Capitol in Baton Rouge

Materials Notes

Trap Set, 2 Timpani, Orchestra Bells (Glockenspiel), Xylophone, Vibraphone, Suspended (Crash) Cymbal
Trap Set, 2 Timpani, Orchestra Bells (Glockenspiel), Xylophone, Vibraphone, Suspended (Crash) Cymbal

Featured News

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Irving Berlin had two musicals playing in New York at the same time this spring when a revival of THE COCOANUTS at American Jewish Theatre extended its run...

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Symphonic Piazza
The R&H Concert Library is proud to announce that a symphonic suite from THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA is now available. Read More
Musical Notes

This spring THE KING AND I will return to Broadway, beginning performances at the Neil Simon Theatre on March 20...

Read More

Media Rights

Promotional

1. The Promotional Video shall be recorded and shown for the sole purposes of advertising your licensed production of the Play. For such a video, R&H allows theatres to film up to 10 minutes of total footage taken at either a performance or rehearsal (i.e.: 10 minutes of scripted moments.)

2. The Promotional Video may not include more than (i) 1 minute from any song or (ii) 3 minutes, in the aggregate, of footage of copyrighted material from the Play.

3. The Promotional Video may not include any sponsorship or underwriting without the prior consent of all R&H.

4. The Promotional Video must be submitted to R&H by sending the source video and video link to editor@rnh.com.

5. The Promotional Video must include the following: "Rights courtesy of Rodgers & Hammerstein, www.rnh.com"

6. Upon approval by R&H of the Promotional Video, you agree not to make any alterations in the approved copyrighted material used therein and you agree to obtain the prior written approval of R&H for any other use of the Promotional Video not specifically granted herein.

7. Upon termination of the Term, you shall cease to have any rights to use the Promotional Video including, without limitation, in connection with a future production of the Play, and shall immediately remove its content from any and all websites on the Internet.

8. You may not use a commercially available recording.

9. Any additional promotional rights must be approved by R&H by contactingTheatre@rnh.com.

 

*Promotional video rights can only be granted once a performance license for Louisiana Purchase has been secured. Please contact customer service if you have any questions. If you have not yet applied for Louisiana Purchase, you can do so here. LOG IN to learn more.
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