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George Abbott

所属教程:People in America 更新:02-02
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VOICE 1:

I'm Shirley Griffith.

VOICE 2:

And I'm Steve Ember with the Special English program. People inAmerica. Every week we tell about a person important in the historyof the United States. Today, we tell about the man known as "Mr.broadway," George Abbott.

(Theme)

VOICE 1:

Experts say probably no one in the history of the Americantheater influenced it more than George Abbott. He lived to beone-hundred-seven years old. He remained active until he died,January thirty-first, nineteen-ninety-five.

You can tell the history of the Broadway theater area in New YorkCity by telling the story of George Abbott's life. He wrote plays.He directed them. He produced plays. And he acted in them. He wasinvolved in more than one-hundred-twenty productions. Some of hismost popular shows were musicals. They include "Jumbo," "Pal Joey,""Call Me Madam," "Pajama Game," "Fiorello!" and "Damn Yankees. " Insome years, he had three hit shows at the same time.

VOICE 2:

"Damn Yankees" opened in New York in nineteen-fifty-five. GeorgeAbbott helped write the musical play. And he directed it. It woneight of the Tony Awards given each year for the best theaterproductions on Broadway. In nineteen-ninety-four, anotherperformance of "Damn Yankees" opened on Broadway. George Abbotthelped with the production. He was one-hundred-six years old.

"Damn Yankees" is about a baseball player on the Washingtonsenators baseball team. He sells his soul to the devil so thesenators will win the championship. A major person in the play is abeautiful woman who works for the devil. Her name is lola. One ofthe best known songs from that show is "whatever lola wants":

((Cut 1: Whatever Lola Wants))

VOICE 1:

George Francis Abbott was born in eighteen-eighty-seven, in NewYork state. His family moved to the western state of Wyoming when hewas eleven years old.

George worked as a cowboy during summers before the family movedback to New York state, near the city of Buffalo. He attended theUniversity of Rochester, where he played football and took part inthe acting club. He then studied play writing at Harvard University.In nineteen-twelve, he won one-hundred dollars for a play he wrotecalled "The Man in the Manhole."

George Abbott moved to New York City in nineteen-thirteen. But hehad a slow start in the theater. He did not get many acting jobs.Two years later, he became an assistant to a theater producer. Soonhe was deeply involved with re-writing plays and producing them. Hehad his first hit show in nineteen-twenty-six. It was called"Broadway."

VOICE 2:

George Abbott worked in Hollywood too. He was involved inproducing eleven movies between nineteen-twenty-eight andnineteen-fifty-eight. "All Quiet on the Western Front" was one ofthe most praised. He also produced films of the musical plays "DamnYankees," "Where's Charley." And "The Pajama Game".

A few weeks before his death, Mr. Abbott reportedly was workingon a new version of "The Pajama Game." The musical play is aboutworkers in a pajama factory. The clothing workers are planning tostrike for more pay. How much more ... seven-and-a-half cents:

((Cut 2: Seven and a Half Cents))

VOICE 1:

Beginning in nineteen-twenty, George Abbott had at least one playon broadway each year. Sometimes there were as many as five.

Mr. Abbott liked working with young, unknown actors. He once saida producer was better off if he did not have a star in his show. Hesaid working without a star saves money and damage to the nerves!that is why George Abbott gave acting jobs to actors who wereunknown at the time. Many became very famous. Helen Hayes, GeneKelley, Eddie Albert, Shirley maclaine, and Carol Burnett are just afew. He also helped unknown song writers, dancers and producers likeHarold Prince, Leonard Bbernstein, Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins.

George Abbott changed the American theater in many ways. He wasthe first to produce musical shows that were serious dramas, notjust light love stories. And he was the first producer to use balletdancers in a musical show. He worked with the ballet expert GeorgeBalanchine. That was in nineteen-thirty-six. The play was "On YourToes. " The music was "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue":

((CUT 3: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue)

VOICE 2:

George Abbott won just about every award a person can win in thetheater. He received a special Tony Award for his lifetime of work.He also received the Kennedy Center lifetime achievement award innineteen-eighty-two. And he won Tony awards for four of his musicalshows including "Ffiorello!"

"Fiorello!" also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama after it openedin nineteen-fifty-nine. It is about the life of Fiorello LaGuardia,the mayor of New York City during the nineteen-forties. Many criticssaid the song "Little Tin Box" was the best in the show. It makesfun of the way politicians try to explain their actions when theyare accused of spending public money for their own use. Here is"Little Tin Box" from "Fiorello!":

((CUT 4: Little Tin Box))

VOICE 1:

George Abbott earned millions of dollars in the theater. But hedid not spend his money freely. He always helped the poor, however.And he quietly provided money to produce shows that no one elsewould support.

Mr. Abbott was married three times. He had a daughter who alsoworked in the theater. She died in nineteen-eighty-four.

VOICE 2:

George Abbott was always involved in new projects, usuallyseveral at one time. But he always took care of his health. He saidit was important to eat three meals a day and get enough sleep eachnight.

He always wore a suit and tie. And he always said what wasnecessary, not a word more. For Mr. Abbott, the play was the mostimportant thing, and nothing was permitted to interfere. Actors andpeople who went to his plays loved him for it.

When George Abbott celebrated his one-hundredth birthday innineteen-eighty-seven, theater actors honored him with a big party.They also performed for him. They ended their show with a songGeorge Abbott especially liked. So we thought we would end with ittoo. It is called "Heart," from George Abbott's show, "Damn Yankees."

((Cut 4: Heart))

VOICE 1:

This Special English program was written by Nancy Steinbach andproduced by Lawan Davis. I'm Shirley Griffith.

VOICE 2:

And I'm Steve Ember. Listen again next week for another People inAmerica program on the Voice of America.

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