Theatre: Showboat

aka: Show Boat
1927 musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, based on a 1926 book. It has been filmed in 1929, 1936, and 1951. The 1936 version was directed by James Whale, who is best known for directing Universal Horror films such as Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein.

The story starts with the Cotton Blossom, a showboat with well-known actors arriving in a town in the late 1800s. Magnolia Hawks, the daughter of the showboat's owners, falls for a wandering gambler named Gaylord Ravenal. When the lead actors of the boat are forced to leave due to racial issues at the time (Julie being biracial), Magnolia and Gaylord take over as the leads, and become an instant hit.

The musical is possibly most known for Paul Robeson's rendition of "Ol' Man River" in the 1936 version.

This work provides examples of

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Magnolia is said to have black hair in the book, but every stage and film portrayal has her as a blonde.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama
  • Costume Porn: The film versions are loaded with Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • Entitled to Have You: This is what leads to Julie being kicked off the ship—an entitled guy is mad that Julie doesn't want his gifts, so he goes to the sheriff to expose her mixed-race status.
  • Exact Words: Steve avoids a criminal charge of miscegenation with Julie by claiming to have "more than a drop of Negro blood in me".
  • Hidden Depths: Joe. A lazy, teasing character, bordering on an old stereotype. But he does get the song that is often most remembered, and is the one to fetch a doctor for Magnolia when she's in labour.
  • Large Ham: Everyone on the stage, but especially the villain character.
  • Lazy Bum: Joe, quite cheerfully, much to the annoyance of his hard-working wife.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: "Old Man River," is, undoubtedly, the most known song from the production and generally the most remembered part.
  • Nice Guy: Frank. Of the three performing couples, he's the only one to stay with his partner, in spite of not being romantically linked. He also goes out of his way to help Magnolia get a job.
  • Not So Above It All: Parthy at times
  • Pass Fail: Julie is biracial.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some furs show up in the film versions, such as Magnolia wearing a white ermine cape at the end of the 1936 version.
  • Scenery Porn: It's a very nice boat.
  • Show Within a Show: Anything that shows up on the stage.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Kim, born to finer things in life, is a genuinely nice person from childhood and beyond.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Turns out Gaylord killed a guy. The sheriff says that the jury figured the guy had it coming.
  • White Male Lead: Subverted, although the lead is white and female. Of the white male characters, only two can be seen as being really good people {Frank and Cap'n Andy), while the rest do not come off as very nice people.