Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Irving Berlin's Miss Liberty gets Sheffield 'premiere'

Concert rehearsal Image copyright University of Sheffield
Image caption The concerts will feature more than 60 singers and musicians

A rare Broadway musical penned by legendary composer Irving Berlin is to get its UK "premiere".

Miss Liberty was first performed in New York in 1949 and was written by Irving Berlin, who also wrote Annie Get Your Gun and White Christmas.

The University of Sheffield claims it is the first performance of the show in Britain.

Its special performance will feature four numbers cut from the original which were rediscovered by researchers.

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Dr Dominic McHugh found the lost songs in Berlin's archive papers in the Library of Congress.

The musical is a fictionalised account of the Statue of Liberty's arrival in New York in 1885, he said.

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Media captionCopyright words and music by Irving Berlin (courtesy of R&H Theatricals/Europe)

"The show is all about two newspaper companies, great rivals, who raised the funds to have the statue constructed on its plinth," he said.

"Because although the French sent the statue to America they didn't provide the funding to put it on it plinth."

  • Irving Berlin was born Israel Isidore Baline in Russia in 1888.
  • After moving to the United States he began writing songs and had his first international hit with Alexander's Ragtime Band in 1911.
  • Other successful songs include Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better), Blue Skies, Cheek to Cheek and Isn't This a Lovely Day?
  • He is probably best remembered for White Christmas sung by Bing Crosby in the 1954 film of the same name.
  • He died in 1989 at the age of 101.

The two performances will feature more than 60 singers and musicians drawn from the university's Department of Music.

Co-producer Matthew Malone said the concerts would be a chance to recreate the "traditional Broadway sound", which had been lost over the years as theatre orchestras grew smaller.

"Because of the influence of technology there's extensive use of things like synthesizers and click tracks in the West End," he said.

"What we're aiming to do is perform the shows as they were, with anything from 26 to 40 musicians to achieve that period 1940s and 1950s sound."

The shows will take place in the city's Firth Hall on the 9 and 10 December.

Berlin's estate gave permission to use the songs.

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