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I rrss? J?
y Wt BY RALPH E. MOOXEY.
?a 'Tell me how to write a music
3 Harold Orlob. graduate of Ann
fl Arbor College of Music, who has
I 8M 3,Jst "arrived" ns tho composer of
-jM' "The Red Canary." was dlsconcert-
9 ed. He soon began trying to fill
Sjj, tho order, however.
. 'jM "Write a musical comedy or
4HI have It produced7" ho queried.
J "I guess it would bo best to say
9 write tt so it will be produced.
.'5B The formula Is easy. Have a ro-
'"m mantle lovo story, at least one
ViM novel Idea and some good music.
. j3 If you have those, even In crude
' '-?' Hi shape, It wfll be good enough to
fill produce '
." SB "Managers won't take them cx-
'". " I 1 cept at rare Intervals, though. The
" : theatrical business 13 like broker-
',- 9 n?e. A manager finds that there
''''"'SB Is a demand for Madamo Abarbfc-
JM 9 nell, say. Ho decides to sell Mn-
" -3B dame Abarbanell as long as the
' riH market holds good. Ho wants a
vi ' B vehicle for her. so he looks around
i " 'SB an5 within a stono's throw of his
I - A.2B office he finds a dozen writers.
' V.y'H "e hcglns to ask among them
'.'"''jBl or man who thinks he has the
it&i I " -mm Ught kind of a show for her. You
'?.-; Mmi ee- he isn't always looking for
I I 'jH U8 a ood musical comedy, for
r'B tnat may fal1- He ,8 looking for a
jpSS"3&5B Madame Abarbanell musical eome-
wrc'''&fll dy wn,cn Ls not llkely to fall. Ho
a 'ijtfHH buys a piece that ncrnns to Bult
Ht-''jHl ier 'rom an author whom ho
ffig$ap&B "I havo seen deals for manu-
KnfccPM Scripts completed at a bar or In a
Kra$p;H club room In New York. TI1I3
HmPtcH makes it Just as valuable to an au-
!n35fiJB thor to be on Broadway as It is for
HwffiHi a broker to be on Stock Exchange.
QhjH' "Give mo come practical hints
EBffijjHi tor librettists."
BEgRiH "I don't know a great deal about
IHnH them except by observation, al-
I&hHB though I did write a few In my
flH early days for my own shows. Flr.st,
HH would say that when a man
SHHH thinks he has a good idea for a II-
bretto he should consult a special
"Nope theatrical. Writing a show
for the stago Is a profession llko
the law, but It isn't taught In
schools as the law la. If It Is pos
sible for John Smith, embryo writ
er, to talk to Elll Wickleham, ex
pert stago manager or librettist,
he should do so, for tho export can
'take his case' as a lawyer and shape
It so the producers will like it- It
Wickleham likes the idea Smith
should collaborate with him.
"He may have to sell the Idea to
the expert. Ho may havo to do all
tho work on the libretto, then let
Wickleham touch it up and never
get credit for it. In other words,
the show may go on the stage as
Bill Wlcklehams. but the tyro has
got to stand for It.
"Ho must make any sacrifice to
get a name in tho business. Tho
show will bo known to tho public
as Wlckleham's. but the producer
and others will all know that John
- Smith furnished the main Idea.
"Suppose John Smith can't con
sult an expert?
ROAD TO SUCCESS.
"Then perseverance ls his only
watchword. He must stick at It.
Stick at it! Use any means possible
to get his stuff before the public.
Lodge, charity and church enter
tainments. Everything. William
LeBaron, collaborator in 'Tho Red
Canary," wrote his first stago suc
cess. "The Echo." for a college pro
duction. Cast bread on tho waters
and some day you may get dough In
return. Don't put Jokes like that
last In your librettos, though."
"Is it a good plan to submit by
"Let John Smith do that If It ls
not possible to go to New York or
Chicago and hang around. Don't
submit complete books, though.
Submit scenarios, Indicating what
each scene will show, what each
musical number will be. what kind
of a comedian is required, what
kind of a leading woman ls neces
sary, and pound In hard Just what
the novel idea and big situation ls.
"A play ls not written It ls built.
It must be thought over for a long
time and pieced together and a good
scenario Is half the battle. If you
could go through tho notes on au
thors' desks you would see refer
ences to a dozen plays which are
slated for completion !n the distant
future. Goorgo Broadhurst eays he
waits from two to five years before
writing out his ideas. Ho is medi
tating on them at odd moments
right along, though. 'Within tho
Law' was written on a bet In threo
weeks, but Bayard Yclller confesses
he had the Idea In mind for two
j ears or more.
"Some men have the Idea that
writing librettos Is a vocation In It
self, but, believe me, a large num
ber of the best librettists tire follow
ing It as a side line. William Le
Baron, who collaborated on Tho
Red Canary,' with Alexander John
stone, ls editor of two or three coal
mining magazine?. Johnstone, 1 on
the other hand, ls a professional
"Librettists havo all sorts of other
occupations. They are newspaper
men, lawyers and magazine writers,
all kinds of workers. Will B. John
atono, writer of the lyrics for 'The
THREE POSES OF HAROLD
Bed Canary' Is a cartoonist on a
New York newspaper. So, you see,
it Is not wise to give up a situation
to enter the business.
'Musical comedies nowadays need
strong plots. When Ziegfeld pro
duces a flimsy plot revue ho doesn't
search out new writers, but gets men
who havo a reputation in the trade.
Therefor, If a new writer presents
flimsy books suited to a Ziegfeld
show he doesn't stand much chance
of having them accepted.
"Glvo the audience lots of ro
mance. Pretty, novel love scenes
are sure-flre all the time. Worked
up well, they help a book along Im
mensely. Where It takes a trained
writer to construct a good farce, a
beginner may frame love scenes out
of his own experience. His ideas on
the subject are fresh, too.
"For working hints I can only
give what I have observed First
havo a new theme one that you
can't remember havlng'seen in the
theater. (You should go often to
the theater, by the way). For a
new Idea In 'Tho Bed Carnary.' tho
authors used the recent discoveries
about colors Influencing tho emo
tions, such as red Inspiring love and
so on. Thoy can get comedy by hav
ing a color blind comedian.
This made It necessary to drive
homo the fact that the comedian
was color blind In the show. The
first musical number aftor the open
ing chorus was made a son describ
ing his color blindness and In this
way the idea was "planted ' Writers
must look all through their plays
for the Ideas thai must be planted
and then drive them In quick.
"Do not have our characters ex
plain anything, If possible. Let them
talk to ono another and 'act' the
points you want to make. Show
everything by stago action.
"Do it and don't tell about It
that's what I mean
"A novel situation is a great thing.
That scene In the window of tho
hotel In 'Little Miss Brown.' for ex
ample, or that In Tho Pink Lady.'
that the comedian had to kiss a cer
tain woman to obtain something he
wanted. One idea like that may sell
a book, If you can make the man
ager see its value.
Orlob thought a moment and
then took a hand In the questioning.
COMPOSER'S LOT IS
HARDER THAN LIBRETTIST'S.
"When aro you going to let me
talk about composing''" ho asked.
"I don't really know a great deal
about writing -books and librettos."
"Go ahead," he was Instructed.
"I will pllo up more difficulties.
If tho unknown librettist of today
!b In a hard fix, the composer ls In
a worse. The managers want good
music, light opera grade, the worst
way, and yet they won't let Ameri
cans write it. Victor Herbert is the
only American composer who Is al
lowed to turn out really serious
light opera music. The rest of u
haven't got the reputation and tho
managers won't let us make a repu
tation. "I began at twenty as a musical
director for a road show. For more
than eight years following I wrote
music which was published und?r
another man's name. He got tho
money and the credit and I got a
reputation In the show business.
'The Red Canary' la tho first show
in which I wa.i allowed to attempt
light opera music.
"The whole lejwnn I have learned
Is this: You have to make good
some way. by giving the other fel
lows what they wan? After you
havo made good you arc In the po
sition of tho man who left the '..ill
at tho hotel office for 6 a. m. and
then told them to go to blazes ho
didn't have to get up.
"When you get to the point where
you can stand up for your own
rights and tell them the kind of
stuff you aro going to write them,
you aro really and truly happy. Of
course, you havo always to submit
to the Judgment of the stage man
ager, who. while he may call for
many changes, usually knows what
"1 had on, song In Tho ReJ
Canary' which I thought was a won
der. The Stage manager said no.
I stood out against him. It was left
in tho show, but after I hud seen
how the audience received It In tho
early performances I was Just as
anxious as he to change It,
"I wrote a song one morning on a
train to replace It. We took the
chorus up to the theater as soon as
we came to our next stop and taught
them the music. That afternoon the
stage manager 'staged' the song and
that night It went on In the show.
It still remains as ono of the best
n U mbers.
"Boforo a show can he a success
It must be all good. An audience
doei not stand for dull stuff, even
when the rest of the show Is fine.
So the show builders work and cut
and scrape until everything ls good
and the audience doesn't have a dull
"Failures? They are easy to
make. As luck would have It. I
have not had very many because It
Is only recently that I have written
complete scores- The Flirting Prin
cess and 'The Red Canary' are the 1
only two shows which have appeared
under my own name, and they havs
both made good. I expect I will
have my share, however. If the man
agers are good enough to let me go
WEAK HOOK IS i
ALWAYS HOPELESS. (
Tho moat common cause of fail
ure In a musical enow Is a trite,
commonplace book. Music can be
very cheap and palpably stolen and
will still go, but a weak book is very t
often hopeless. A cast can ruin a
play. Some failures have been made
just because a famous prima donna "
did not fit her role. 1 :
"Others have been made because
'wo or three actors were not of (
tune with the show. Some are the
result of over-confidence on the
part of the manager. He get to be
lieving lhat the public will 6tand for
anything so long as there is a good
comedian, a pretty chorus and souis
fair music. Ho forgets this U
In the meantime several bun- st
dred ambitious writers have seen B
the show, noted how rotten it was Bl
pind have submitted dozens of manu- . j,
si rlpts which are an improvement
upon the same Idea, or which have ,
good original Ideas, but which the i
manager, made leary' by his cxpe- J;
rlence. will not use.
' Then your best advice Is to get v'
busy and do anything to make ,
good ?" ) 1
.Orlob Indulged In another smlls.
"Don't forget what I said awhile
ago about sticking to it, either."