1993 Show Boat – Broadway Musicals
Legends of American Music Series
- Honors well-known musical Show Boat – chosen to represent the decade of shows produced in the 1920s
- Issued as part of the Broadway Musicals set for the 100th anniversary of Broadway
- Part of the Legends of American Music Series
Legends of American Music
29¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
July 14, 1993
First Day City:
New York, New York
515,000,000 (Total for all four Broadway Musicals stamps)
Printed for American Bank Note Company by Multi-Color Corporation of Scottsburg, Indiana
Booklet, 5 panes of 4 horizonal stamps each, arranged vertically. Gravure printing cylinders of 220 subjects (11 across, 20 around).
10.9 (L perforator)
Why the stamp was issued:
To celebrate the landmark American musical Show Boat
and commemorate the 100th
anniversary of Broadway.
About the stamp design:
Like the other Broadway Musicals stamps, the design was created using a large collection of photographs as reference. New York City artist Wilson McLean created pencil sketches for the approval of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee before creating final oil paintings to be pictured on the stamps. Interestingly, McLean received special permission from the Postal Service to make his finished paintings larger than the five-times-stamp-size maximum normally imposed on stamp artists.
Special design details:
The Show Boat
stamp pictures the lovers Magnolia and Ravenal standing on the deck of the Cotton Blossom
. Part of the steamboat’s name can be seen in the background. In the foreground is Cap’n Andy playing his fiddle.
First Day City:
This stamp, along with the rest of the Broadway Musicals set, was issued in New York, New York, the home of Broadway and a fitting place for the stamps’ First Day of Issue. The day coincided with the second annual “Broadway on Broadway” event in New York City.
Perfectionism of an artist:
McLean later said the Show Boat
design was his “least favorite” of the four. He said this was because “The trickiness about this one was packing so much information – enough to tell the story to some extent – into the design, which was going to be the size of a stamp…. Showing Cap’n Andy playing his violin, and separating that image from the lovers, and giving some sense of the show boat itself, made it busier than I would have liked…. Show Boat
just didn’t please me as well as the others did. I felt that it kind of escaped me at a certain point.”
About the Broadway Musicals set:
The four-stamp set was issued to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of Broadway. The set pictured scenes from musicals that made their mark on American music: Show Boat
, Porgy and Bess
, and My Fair Lady
. The Oklahoma!
stamp was the same design used earlier in 1993 to commemorate the musical’s 50th
anniversary (although there were some design differences as the two stamps weren’t printed by the same company).
Project manager for the Legends of American Music series, Terrence McCaffrey chose a musical from each decade (Show Boat
from the 1920s, Porgy and Bess
from the 1930s, Oklahoma!
from the 1940s, and My Fair Lady
from the 1950s. Overall, the set was created based on the desire of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee to honor composers of American musical theater.
McCaffrey also said of the Broadway Musicals designs that he wanted to make sure the stamp designs wouldn’t remind the viewer of the famous actors and actresses most well-known for playing specific roles in these musicals. He said “We needed to have generic faces as opposed to the more recognizable faces from the actual musicals.”
About the Legends of American Music Series:
The Legends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993, and ran until September 21, 1999. More than 90 artists are represented from all styles of music: rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include band leaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, conductors, lyricists, and more. The Legends of American Music Series was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.
History the stamp represents:
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 1880s, 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.