Fifty Million Frenchmen
COLE PORTER

“A Musical Comedy Tour of Paris in Concert”

Orchestra New England, Evans Haile; Howard McGillin, Kim Criswell, Kay McClelland, Susan Powell, Karen Ziæmba, Jason Graae, James Harder, Scott Waara, JQ and the Bandits, Peggy Cass, Jean LeClerc

When Fifty Million Frenchmen, “a musical comedy tour of Paris” opened in New York City on Thanksgiving Eve, 1929, it instantly became one of Broadway’s biggest hits. Robert Garland in The Telegram found it “rich, rowdy, and resourceful” while Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times pronounced it “brisk, crack-brained, smartly accoutred and modishly salacious.” To critic Gilbert W. Gabriel, it was “just the best thing of its sort in seven or so years.”

Fifty Million Frenchmen achieved a run of 254 performances on Broadway and was filmed twice, first in 1931 as a nonmusical feature and again in 1934 as a musical two-reeler starring Bob Hope. Yet possibly because of the size of the original production (in addition to its twenty-three speaking roles, there were seventy-five in the chorus-plus several specialty acts), the show was never acquired by a theatrical rental library to be made available to stock and amateur companies. Through the years, most of the original Fifty Million Frenchmen materials were thought lost until the orchestrations surfaced in 1987 at the Tams-Witmark Music Library in New York City.

This discovery prompted a renewed interest in the show that culminated in a concert at the French Institute/Alliance Francaise in the spring of 1991. The concert included not only the songs performed on Broadway, but also many that were dropped in rehearsal and out of town. A script was pieced together from several drafts of Fields’ libretto, preserving the original plot and dialogue while presenting Porter’s score in its most complete New York showcase. This new adaptation, featured on this recording, downplays the original’s lavish production values and emphasizes instead its remarkable score, which, as one critic noted in 1929, is indeed “a Cole Porter field day.”

Howard McGillin

Fifty Million Frenchmen

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Track Listing

Overture
Cole Porter
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You Do Something to Me
Cole Porter
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The American Express
Cole Porter
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You've Got That Thing
Cole Porter
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Find Me a Primitive Man
Cole Porter
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I Worship You
Cole Porter
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Do You Want to See Paris?
Cole Porter
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Where Would You Get Your Coat?
Cole Porter
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At Longchamps Today
Cole Porter
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The Boyfriend Back Home
Cole Porter
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I'm in Love
Cole Porter
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Please Don't Make Me Be Good
Cole Porter
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You Don't Know Paree
Cole Porter
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Entr'acte
Cole Porter
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Somebody's Going to Throw a Big Party
Cole Porter
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It Isn't Done
Cole Porter
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The Queen of Terre Haute
Cole Porter
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Let's Step Out
Cole Porter
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The Tale of The Oyster
Cole Porter
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I'm Unlucky at Gambling
Cole Porter
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Why Shouldn't I Have You?
Cole Porter
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Paree, What Did You Do To Me?
Cole Porter
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