Issue Date: July 14, 1993
City: New York, NY
Printed By: American Banknote Corporation
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 11 horizontally
Based on Edna Ferber’s novel of the same name, Show Boat paved the way for a form of musical that was distinct from the traditional fast-moving comedies and flamboyant operettas. Not only was it unique in that it was the first musical based on a serious literary work, but it was also the first musical to tackle such serious themes as racism and poverty.
Composer Jerome Kern and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II adapted Ferber’s epic into a sweeping and dramatic musical that boasted such songs as “Make Believe”, “You Are Love,” and the stirring “Ol’ Man River.” The two went on to create musical history. Hailed as an “American masterpiece” by the critics, Show Boat was both an artistic and box office triumph.
Set during the 1880’s, Show Boat traces the story of Magnolia Hawks, a performer on the showboat Cotton Blossom, and Gaylord Ravenal, a riverboat gambler. They fall in love, marry, move to Chicago where Gaylord loses all their money, and finally separate. Magnolia goes on to become a star on Broadway. Years later she returns to the Cotton Blossom, where she is reunited with a changed Gaylord.