Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"You've Got to Be Taught"

Oscar Hammerstein II's lyrics reflected his personality and belief system, making him one of the first to transform the genre of the Broadway musical from lighthearted boy-meets-girl frivolities to more substantial intellectual shows.

The lyricist-librettist-producer explored the subject of miscegenation in the seminal 1927 musical "Show Boat," which he wrote with composer Jerome Kern. In 1945's "Carousel," his second collaboration with composer Richard Rodgers, Hammerstein presented a romantic drama fantasy that dealt with death, heaven and forgiveness. And in the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein masterwork, "South Pacific," Hammerstein looked at racism especially in his song "You've Got to Be Taught."

"I thought the song 'You've Got to Be Taught' really educated a lot of people to make them think about the civil rights subject," said JoAnn Young, director of the new PBS special "Oscar Hammerstein II: Out of My Dreams," airing Sunday on KOCE. The special is hosted and narrated by "Glee's" Matthew Morrison, who appeared in the Lincoln Center revival of "South Pacific" four years ago.

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