a partnership dissolved -- 12/5/19

Today's encore selection -- from The Street Where I Live by Alan Jay Lerner. Alan Jay Lerner writes that his long-time partnership with Fritz Loewe—the partnership responsible for My Fair Lady, Camelot, Gigi, and Brigadoon among others—is beginning to fall apart. The context is the tumultuous period of preparation for the Broadway debut of Camelot:

"By the end of the week Fritz and I were seeing less and less of each other. Irritations and differences between us that had been long forgotten and were of little consequence at the time had now become the subject of questions by interviewers. Our replies traveled from mouth to mouth and by the time they reached us they were unrecognizable distortions. If we had stayed steadfastly and constantly together as we always had in the past we would have laughed, rowed, or shrugged, but in the end gone on about our business. We did not. I do not know why we did not. I may have thought I knew then but whatever I thought, I am certain I was wrong. I have a feeling the reason was far more insidious, something of which neither of us was aware and which affected each of us in different ways. I have a feeling it may have been too much success.

Composer Frederick Loewe (left) and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner are seen in this April 1956 photo.

"Success, as I mentioned earlier, can be a creative stimulant. It encourages reaching in and reaching out. But it can also take the concessions of collaboration and call them compromise. It can embitter as often as it elates and inflates and it can weaken as much as it toughens. It can magnify faults and unearth a few new ones and its only virtue is when it is forgotten. Perhaps I was too disdainful of the words of others and Fritz too vulnerable. Perhaps I misinterpreted our differences as lack of support and he misinterpreted mine as heroics. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I will never know. Too much was never said. In the end we were a little like the couple being discussed in one of Noel Coward's early plays. 'Do they fight?' said one. 'Oh, no,' said the other. 'They're much too unhappy to fight.'"


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author:

Alan Jay Lerner

title:

The Street Where I Live

publisher:

W.W. Norton & Company

date:

Copyright 1978 by Alan Jay Lerner

pages:

224
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