Will Morrissey’s Folies Bergere Revue


Blake was hired by producer Will Morrissey to provide music for his Folies Bergere Revue that premiered in Greenwich Village’s Gansevoort Theater in April 1930.    Morrissey himself appeared in his revues, often in the audience, greeting the attendees while portraying an old-style Irish comedian.  This mixed-race revue opened with a monocle-wearing announcer, sporting a faux-English accent, who introduced Eubie and his “Uptown  Gang”: “whereupon Eubie treats the audience to a jazz soliloquy.  A dozen or more mulattoes and octoroons, light of foot and gown flit in, do a congregational contortion, and flit out, to the delectation of the audience.”  The New York Times critic was impressed with Eubie’s score, calling it “tuneful and catchy, and syncopated to a high degree.”

Program for Will Morrisey’s Revue

Eubie’s then-partner, singer/comedian Broadway Jones, was also featured in the show that—like many other theatrical revues of the day—was a hodgepodge of new and recycled material.  Jones reprised his role in the satire of Green Pastures, a popular Broadway offering of the day, that had originally been part of Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1930.  Blake and Jones also appeared towards the end of the second act to offer a sampling of their vaudeville act—just as Sissle and Blake did in Shuffle Along.

John Scholl—one of the original producers of Shuffle Along —was an investor in the revue, and may have suggested that Morrissey hire Blake to be part of it.  He also encouraged Blake to compose some songs for the show, suggesting to Blake that he work with his young son, Jack, who had just graduated from college.  Eubie recalled:  “[Scholl] says to me one day… ‘I got a son, bores me to death, Eubie.  He thinks he can write lyrics.  Now get him off my shoulder.  Go up and doodle something down.’  And he wrote the lyric and I set it.  And the song hit.  …  Universal hit.”

Sheet music for “Loving You the Way I Do” with the show’s alternate title, Hot Rhythm.

The song they crafted was titled “Loving You the Way I Do,” and—of course—Morrissey added his name as lyricist along with Scholl’s son, Jack.  The song was given a featured slot in the first act, appearing as #3 on the program.  Although the show was a flop, the song was a hit, leading to Jack Scholl getting an offer to go to Hollywood, although he initially worked writing comedy plots, not song lyrics.  Eubie ruefully noted, “Hollywood sent for him, [but] didn’t send for me, and he left me and he went out there.” Eubie’s anger that Scholl—a greenhorn—got a Hollywood job based on the song’s success while he lacked the same opportunity reflects the overall racism in the movie business.  While a few black specialty pictures were being made, black composers had few—if any–opportunities to work for the major studios.

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