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The Play "New Orleans"
an operetta by Oscar Hammerstein II and Sigmund Romberg
Summer, 1941 at the St. Louis Municipal Opera (MUNY)



(Courtesy of the Newill Family)

Above - James Newill and Muriel Angelus enjoying their bottles of milk, probably during the 1941 "Sunny River" production at the St. Louis Municipal Opera (MUNY). Of the photos on this webpage, this image is the only one with some identification. On the back is: "Photography by Ruth Cunliff Russell, 411 N. 10th Street, St. Louis, MO". Doing a Google search revealed that Ruth Cunliff Russell was the photographer for the St. Louis Municipal Opera (MUNY) between 1936 and 1957.

Further investigation indicates that Newill was in St. Louis at the Muny to perform in "New Orleans", a new operetta with the book by Oscar Hammerstein II and music by Sigmund Romberg. The premier of "New Orleans" was on June 5, 1941.

The Muny - or Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis, Missouri - is a municipally-owned outdoor theatre which began operation in 1917. The Muny was kind enough to check their records and found that: "James Newill appeared at The Muny in 'New Orleans', in 1941, in the role of John Claiborne."

A check of Wikipedia reveals this was the first play for 1941 (season 23) at Muny: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muny_Repertory#1941_.28Season_23.29

The BroadwayWorld website identifies "New Orleans" as the working title for the play "Sunny River": http://broadwayworld.com/shows/backstage.php?showid=2394

Newill did not go to New York after the debut/close of the play in St. Louis. "Sunny River" was short-lived on Broadway - it ran from December 4, 1941 - January 3, 1942 at the St. James Theatre in New York City: http://ibdb.com/production.php?id=1144

The Time magazine website has a summary of the Broadway version of "Sunny River", which featured Muriel Angelus and Helen Claire: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,772857,00.html

The Internet Broadway Database has many plays listed for Helen Claire and a few plays for Muriel Angelus. Both worked on the brief Broadway run of "Sunny River":
Helen Claire: http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=35338
Muriel Angelus: http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=29953




(Courtesy of the Newill Family)


Elliot J. Cohen loves the American Musical Theater and came to the rescue with details on the above image. He writes that the photo was dated June 6, 1941 and the caption on the back reads: "The cries of "Author!" in the audience of 10,000 at the opening Municipal Opera performance of the new musical romance, "New Orleans", brought to the stage its creators - Sigmund Romberg, composer, and Oscar Hammerstein II, librettist. Here they acknowledge the cheers of the audience and the applause of the cast and chorus. From the left: Muriel Angelus, James Newill, Dorothy Lee, Romberg, Hammerstein, Joan Roberts, Frederic Persson and Ruth Urban." Elliot adds: Joan Roberts went on two years later to play the leading role of Laurey in the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration, "Oklahoma!"



Above are crops/blowups of the two gentlemen in suits from the above photo. The man on the left taking the bow is Sigmund Romberg. And the man facing right is Oscar Hammerstein II.

Brief biography and photo of Sigmund Romberg: http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/bio/C69
Brief biography and photo of Oscar Hammerstein II: http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/C13



(Courtesy of the Newill Family)

James Newill and Muriel Angelus in the front center. Notice that her dress matches the photo below.



(Courtesy of the Newill Family)




(Courtesy of the Newill Family)

Above - James Newill and Muriel Angelus.





Above are several crops and blowups of Newill from the above images.



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