Expresso Bongo

Expresso Bongo

Musical
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Expresso Bongo

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Description:
Expresso Bongo, a 1958 West End musical and a 1959 film, was a satire of the music industry. It was first produced on the stage at the Saville Theatre, London on 23 April 1958. Its book was written by Wolf Mankowitz and Julian More, with music by David Heneker and Monty Norman, also the co-lyricist with Julian More. The production starred Paul Scofield with Hy Hazell, Millicent Martin and James Kenney. Musical Director was Burt Rhodes. The subsequent 1959 film version was directed by Val Guest and starred Laurence Harvey, Cliff Richard, and Yolande Donlan.

1958 musical

Plot

Paul Scofield plays Johnny, a slimy, small-time music promoter and talent scout who notices teenage girls going crazy for the singing and bongo playing of talentless and seemingly idiotic Herbert Rudge (played by James Kenney). Johnny rechristens Rudge as "Bongo Herbert" and signs him to a contract that gives Johnny a 50% share of the profits. With Johnny's help, Bongo rockets to stardom. Bongo's success attracts a host of sleazy music industry types intent on exploiting him. Johnny quickly finds himself outclassed in the sleaze department as Bongo turns out to be the slipperiest slime of them all.

Music

The music for the 1958 musical was, with the exception of one song, entirely different from the music that was used in the 1959 film. Cliff Richard wasn't likely to sign on to a film project that depicted him as a talentless idiot, so the music and the plot were rewritten to...
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