Laughter on Tenth Avenue: Rodgers and Hart, Dwight Deere Wiman, and On Your Toes (1936)

Symonds, Dominic (2016) Laughter on Tenth Avenue: Rodgers and Hart, Dwight Deere Wiman, and On Your Toes (1936). In: Song, Stage and Screen XI, 27 - 30 June 2016, City College of New York.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper will consider the relationship between the writing team of Rodgers and Hart and the producer of several of their 1930s successes, Dwight Deere Wiman. Heir to the agricultural giant John Deere but far more interested in producing for the stage, Wiman studied drama at Yale while his brother went into the family business. After a brief stint acting in silent movies, he began to produce on Broadway, mounting the very well-received revue The Little Show (1929), and soon graduating to work with the now-seasoned writing team of Rodgers and Hart between 1936 and 1942. Rodgers and Hart have become household names, largely due to the series of successes they created with Deere Wiman’s support, including On Your Toes (1936), Babes in Arms (1937), I Married an Angel (1938), Higher and Higher (1940), and By Jupiter (1942). But Wiman himself has remained in the shadows of musical theatre. This paper will explore the success of Rodgers and Hart’s work with Wiman, and consider the role of the producer in establishing them as the major players they became on Broadway in the 1930s. In particular, I will look at their first production together, On Your Toes (1936, book by George Abbott), asking how influential Wiman’s support may have been artistically as well as financially. Specifically, I will explore three questions: first, what particular dynamics did the new figure of Wiman introduce to the creative development of this existing team? Second, to what extent can we view this series of shows as a collaboration between the writing team and their producer? And third, how much was the development of their work affected by influences from the recent work of all three in theatre, revue and film?

Keywords:Dwight Deere Wiman, Rodgers and Hart, On Your Toes (1936), Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Musical Theatre, Producing
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W310 Musicianship/Performance studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:22461
Deposited On:09 Mar 2016 15:18

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