Ted Chapin, former president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, one of the most influential organizations in the history of musical theatre, discusses the 75th anniversary of Annie Get Your Gun on The Zak Kuhn Show. Also, in this episode, Chapin discusses producing major Broadway shows and much more.
Although Rodgers & Hammerstein did not write Annie Get Your Gun, they hit on a goldmine collaboration with the legendary songwriter Irving Berlin.
“Irving Berlin would write a song and come in and play it for Dick [Rodgers] and Oscar [Hammerstein] and say, ‘This is going to be great. The chord progression is very similar to “White Christmas,” I’m sure it’s going to sell a lot.’ And he’d then play the song and Dick and Oscar would say, ‘Irving, that’s a great, great song. But here’s what we need. We need a song between Annie and Frank…’ and they would just sort of steer Irving Berlin to write the song that’s needed for this show. I think the songs and Annie Get Your Gun while they have a very distinctive personality of their own, which is Irving Berlin’s, the thinking behind the songs is very much Rodgers & Hammerstein kind of character, move the plot a little bit, tell us about the characters, that kind of stuff. So it was a great collaboration,” Chapin says.
Looking at modern-day musical theater, Chapin shares points out that if Rodgers & Hammerstein had been able to see the evolution of musical theater, they undoubtedly would have been fans of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton despite how different it is from one of their earliest compositional hits, Oklahoma!.
Spending years on Broadway and working on productions like South Pacific as well as the Broadway revivals of The King and I, Oklahoma! and Carousel, Chapin has so many stories and insider experience to share throughout the episode.
To listen to the rest of their conversation, check out The Zak Kuhn Show.