ON THE STREET WHERE I LIVE by Alan Jay Lerner
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ON THE STREET WHERE I LIVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A whole book about three musical comedies? Absolutely--if the three shows happen to be Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady, Gigi (the film), and Camelot. And especially if the commentator happens to be as warm and eloquently witty as Alan Jay Lerner is here. After sketching in his early career (rich, broken home; early successes, marital calamities, and famous friends), Lerner provides all the expected pleasures of an and-then-we-wrote memoir. How Mary Martin chilled his blood by listening to the new-born My Fair Lady score and saying ""those dear boys have lost their talent."" How ""The Rain in Spain"" was written in ten minutes; how he could never finish ""I Could Have Danced All Night"" to his satisfaction (""to this day the lyric gives me cardiac arrest""); how Rex Harrison overcame fear of singing; how Richard Burton held the besieged Camelot company together; how Maurice Chevalier inspired the writing of ""I'm Glad I'm Not Young Any More."" Casting, writing, re-writing, rehearsals, opening nights--anecdotes galore. But Lerner does better than that: he gives his book shape and glow by, without false modesty (no shortage of ego here), making the book less about himself than about his chief collaborators--film producer Arthur Freed, composer Frederick (Fritz) Loewe, and, above all, director Moss Hart. Freed is the comic; Loewe is the Viennese charmer, reluctantly leaving the European casinos to toss off a melody; and Hart is the hero--the ever-astonishing, irresistible, total man of the theater, whose death (soon after a heart attack suffered during Camelot rehearsals) shadows all the triumphs. Lerner gives Hart the book's last line (""Now if I can only remember everything Moss told me. . .""); he gives us an open-hearted, clear-headed keepsake of five years in theater history when ""melody and the English language had not yet been outlawed.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1978
Publisher: Norton