Saturday, January 24, 2015

the chorus line

Sara Seegar (center from left), Mary Wicks, Peggy Mondo and Barbara Pepper are among the character actors who actually get to sing in DaCosta's "The Music Man"

During the era when film musicals flourished, dubbing was routine.

No big deal.  It was part of "movie magic."  However, the stars weren't the only performers to lip-sync to other voices.  The on-screen chorus, the camera-ready performers singing behind the leads, had voices provided by another off-screen chorus. Not so with Warner Bros.' "The Music Man."

Director Morton DaCosta, so often underrated (unfairly so) by contemporary critics, filled his film with some wonderful character actors* - Wiliam Fawcett and Mary Wicks, among them - and used their actual voices in the musical numbers, most notably the catchy "Wells Fargo Wagon" ensemble.  Here's how Meredith Willson's song was divided up. Feel free to sing along.  I just wish I had access to the names of all the actors who sing. Apologies to those slighted.

Little brunette girl:
O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' down the street,
Little blonde girl:
Oh please let it be for me!

Elderly Lady #1:
O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' down the street,
Her Daughter:
I wish, I wish I knew what it could be!

Elderly Lady #2:
I got a box of maple sugar on my birthday.

William Fawcett:
In March I got a gray mackinaw.

Mother with daughters:
And once I got some grapefruit from Tampa.

Father with son:
Montgom'ry Ward sent me a bathtub and a cross-cut saw.

O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' now
Is it a prepaid surprise or C.O.D.

Sara Seegar:
It could be curtains!

Mary Wicks:
Or dishes!

Peggy Mondo:
Or a double boiler!

Rand Barker:
Or it could be

Yes, it could be
Yes, you're right it surely could be

Rand Barker:
Somethin' special

Somethin' very, very special now

Rand Barker:
Just for me!

O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' down the street.
Oh, don't let him pass my door!
O-ho the Wells Fargo
Wagon is a-comin' down the street
I wish I knew what he was comin' for.

The Father:
I got some salmon from Seattle last September.

Adnia Rice:
And I expect a new rockin' chair.

Young man:
I hope I get my raisins from Fresno.

The Buffalo Bills:
The D.A.R. have sent a cannon for the courthouse square.

Ronny Howard:
O-ho the Wellth Fargo Wagon ith a-comin' now,
I don't know how I can ever wait to thee.
It could be thumpin' for thumone who is
No relation but it could be thump'n thpethyul
Just for me!

O-ho, you Wells Fargo Wagon keep a-comin'
O-ho, you Wells Fargo
Wagon, keep a-comin'.
O-ho you Wells Fargo Wagon, Don't you dare make a stop
Until you stop for me! 

* In addition to Wicks and Fawcett, "M.M.'s" cast of character actors includes Paul Ford, Hermoine Gingold,  Buddy Hackett, Charles Lane, Harry Hickox, Percy Helton, Barbara Pepper, Max Showalter, Hank Worden, Adnia Rice, Sara Seegar, Jesslyn Fax,  Maudie Prickett and the inimitabe Pert Kelton (a victim of the McCarthy blacklist era).

Character actor William Fawcett sings!


Sheila said...

Great musical. Great song. It's even greater that all those actors did their own singing.

Marley T. said...

one of my favorite musicals. Saw it years ago in Fresno and the "raisins from Fresno" line got a huge laugh from the audience

Michael said...

Thanks for championing the unsung - pun intended! I love that DaCosta let everyone, even the supporting players and extras, do their own singing.

wwolfe said...

Kudos for typing Ronnie Howard's part with the appropriate lisps.