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2:35 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

In Love with Loesser<BR>Concert celebrates prolific composer

The Prescott Fine Arts Association's concert season finale at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Prescott Fine Arts Theater, corner of Marina and Willis streets, is a celebration of the music of the famous composer and lyricist, Frank Loesser, directed by JoAn Ramsay.

Frank Loesser was born in New York in 1910. His father was a distinguished teacher of classical piano and his older brother, Arthur, a renowned concert pianist and music critic. Frank refused to study classical music, but taught himself the harmonica, then the piano.

While attending a Lions Club dinner, he wrote some silly couplets to accompany the doings. He was encouraged by the members to continue writing and sold his first song, "Armful of You," for $15 to a vaudevillian.

Later, Loesser was hired by the Leo Feist Music Publishing company. His first published lyric was "In Love With the Memory of You" in 1931. He sang and played piano in nightclubs and began writing lyrics to music by Irving Actman.

In 1936, they contributed five songs to a Broadway flop, "The Illustrators' Show." It ran only five performances, but this exposure was enough to land him a contract, first with Universal, then Paramount, where he wrote his first film song, "The Moon of Manakoona," for the Dorothy Lamour film, "Hurricane."

He would go on to write lyrics for songs in more than 60 films, including "Destry Rides Again," "Neptune's Daughter," "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Let's Dance." Loesser also worked with composers Jule Styne, Arthur Schwartz, Jimmy McHugh, and Hoagy Carmichael.

During World War II, he was assigned to Special Services, where he wrote the wartime hit, "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition."

Originally, Loesser wrote only the words to songs such as "Dolores," and "They're Either Too Young or Too Old," later writing both words and music to such songs as "I Wish I Didn't Love You So Much," and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" which won an Oscar in 1946.

As well as writing songs, Loesser also wrote Broadway hit musicals – from "Where's Charley," to "My Darling, My Darling" and "Once in Love with Amy," as well as "Lovelier Than Ever," "The New Ashmolean Marching Society and Students Conservatory Band," and "Guys and Dolls" that ran for 1,200 performances and won seven Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Musical.

Loesser also wrote the book for "The Most Happy Fella," which ran for two years on Broadway followed by a run in London.

"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" won seven Tony awards, including Best Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize.

His last movie musical was "Hans Christian Andersen" in 1952, which starred Danny Kaye and included the Oscar nominated song, "Thumbelina."

A Songwriters' Hall of Fame member, Loesser reportedly slept only four hours a night, which may account for his prodigious output. In the late 1940s he formed his own music publishing company. He died at age 59, on July 26, 1969.

The Sunday cast includes Joannie and John Allen, Frank Cimorelli, Jill and Scott Currey, Kendra and Barrett Halterman, Beth and Larry Levenson, Carolyn Drost, Jill Hale, Janet Maissen, Cheri Otten, Jane Trostler, Barbara Gilliss, John Franklin, Edwin Jordan, Jim Reynolds, Rick Wilson, John Bresnen, John C. Bryan, Casey Knight, Liz Riley, Tina Rose, Steve Sischka, Gail Trost, Mary Wakefield, Carol Fulkerson, Kimberly McKee and Mike VanBlaricom.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for ages 17 and under and are available at the Fine Arts box office or at the door. All proceeds benefit the PFAA Scholarship Fund. For more information, call 445-3286.