Sunday, January 17, 2010

(1) Flower Drum Song, Asian-American Musical

After World War II, Americans began to show an interest in the "mysterious East" and Rodgers and Hammerstein, with all their positivity, had explored this interest in South Pacific and The King and I. Both musicals were hits in the late 50s and early 60s in Singapore. But they had never been staged in the local theatres, or had they?

Flower Drum Song is another musical with an Asian theme that was popular in Singapore in the 60s. It is a 1961 Academy Award-nominated film adaptation of the 1958 Broadway musical play Flower Drum Song, written by the composer Richard Rodgers and the lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. The film and stage play were based on the 1957 novel by the Chinese American author C.Y. Lee.

This movie featured a mostly Asian-American cast with members that included dancers, though two of the singing voices were not by Asians. Starring in this movie were Nancy Kwan (images), James Shigeta, Benson Fong, James Hong, Reiko Sato and the original Broadway cast members Jack Soo, Miyoshi Umeki (Movie: Sayonara) and Juanita Hall.

It drew large crowds at the Singapore cinemas when it was shown in the 60s, while sexy and vivacious Nancy Kwan became a household name. The songs from the movie, on the other hand, were not so popular in Singapore but, I Enjoy Being a Girl performed by Nancy Kwan and voice dubbed in by B.J. Baker and A Hundred Million Miracles performed by Miyoshi Umeki and cast members, had a good following locally.
Information on musicals: Wikipedia.
Original article: Andy Lim Collection.


Teoh said...

The film version of "Flower Drum Song" also came with a soundtrack LP.

I am interested in getting the LP because of Miyoshi Umeki, the Japanese singer whose voice really mesmerized me. I saw the LP twice but did buy it because of the bad condition of the LP.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes BC. Try to get a copy as these vinyls will lose circulation fast. And if there's an extra one, just get it for me too.

Miyoshi Umeki was a big name in the 60s. I remember you posted one of her LPs on your blog.
Thank you for the feedback.