Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002463, Sun, 12 Oct 1997 13:17:28 -0700

Pninian Musical: All American (1962 musical)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 11 Oct 97 16:58:44
To: nabokv-l@UCSBVM.ucsb.edu
Subject: All American (1962 musical)

From: Jay Livingston <LIVINGSTON@saturn.montclair.edu>

I have just discovered in a friend's country house a CD of the musical
"All American," which had a two-month run on Broadway in 1962. Perhaps readers
of this listserv will be interested by the following excerpts from the liner
notes by Didier C. Deutsch--the obvious reference to Pnin, the odd echo of
Charlotte in the character of the Dean. Or perhaps this bit of peripheral
trivia is already well-known (I am, as I said, in a country house, miles from
the nearest Boyd volumes). If so, forgive me.

Jay Livingston

* * * * * *

Starring Ray Bolger. . . the new musical All American, seemed from the
start a sure bet for a long run. That it turned out otherwise surprised almost
everyone, though composer Strouse to this day continues to believe that the show
had potential. It found its genesis in a novel by Vladimir Nabokov in which a
Slavic professor comes to the United States and falls in love with all the wrong
things for which this country is known--its brashness, its vulgarity, its love
of money.

When he was approached with the idea of doing a musical based on his
novel, Nabokov said he was not interested. "Just by coincidence, another book
called Professor Fodorski, by Robert Lewis Taylor, came out with essentially the
same character," Strouse remembered recently, "though it certainly didn't have
the same literary weight."

Mel Brooks, who had made a name for himself as a writer for Sid Caesar's
Your Show of Shows on television warmed up to the story created by Lewis Taylor
and came up with a book that incorporated many of the original elements plus
some of his own making.

[Professor Fodorski comes to the U.S. as Professor of Engineering at Southern
Baptist Institute of Technology]

Upon his arrival at S.B.I.T, he is greeted by Dean Elizabeth
Hawkes-Bullock (Eileen Herlie). Unnerved on finding "Herr Dean" so gracious and
so female, Fodorski confesses that though a competent author of texts, he may
not be a very stimulating teacher, to which the dean replies that S.B.I.T. may
not be a very good school academically. What it needs, she says, are serious
teachers. She proceeds to assign him his classes. "As to sleeping
arrangements," she continues, "you'll be living with me." (She rents out rooms
in her spacious house to unmarried resident teachers.)