Tuesday, July 10, 2018

CHS presents, "Jerry of Jericho Road"

Long ago, when giants walked the land in an era visible now only when the mists of time lift slightly, there was the high school operetta. The 1920s and the 1930s were their heyday. Plots generally were silly and convoluted and the music, while perky, was not memorable. But composers turned them out by the dozens for marketing to music and drama teachers who were introducing their young charges to what we probably would call musical theater.

Estelle Merrymon Clark and Palmer John Clark --- one wrote the book, the other the music, presumably they were husband and wife --- were among the most prolific. Their song and dance creations were relatively simple to perform, casts were large so many students could participate and the only required instrumentalist was a good pianist.

So in the fall of 1929, Miss Ruth Lash, then music supervisor at Chariton High School, ordered up copies of the Clark & Clark operetta, "Jerry of Jericho Road," held tryouts and got busy with rehearsals.

The performance went off without a hitch on Friday evening, Dec. 6, 1929, on stage in the new high school auditorium --- a space that by now has been remodeled out of existence. And it received rave reviews in both The Chariton Leader and The Herald-Patriot.

Miss Lash apparently was pleased enough with the result to add a copy of the program to her collection of memorabilia and it came home to Chariton earlier this year when her cousin, Dale Watts, of Montezuma, donated items mostly related to Chariton's Rotary Club to the Lucas County Historical Society.

I looked the operetta up in The Charitonian yearbook for 1930 and discovered that a page had been devoted to it. So here you have that page, above, and the program, below. If you're interested in taking a closer look at either, right click on it and open in a new window.

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