Song Analysis

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Show Boat opened in 1927 at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It was composed by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein. At this time on Broadway Show Boat was seen as a controversial play because of the topics regarding gambling, alcoholism, racism and marriage. It was also one of the first musicals that had both white and black actors on stage at once. This musical was very intriguing and had many unique aspects to it. For these reasons and many more the song that is going to be analyze is “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”. “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is sung at three different times during Show Boat. This first time we here this song is in Act I, when Magnolia is telling Julie about this man that she just met and how she has never met anyone else like him and that she thinks she may be in love. This is the only scene where the song is performed in full, it is sung by Julie who accompanied by Queenie and Magnolia. The second time this song is performed is at the end of Act I when Magnolia and Ravenal are entering the church to get married and it is sung by the ensemble. The last time the song is performed is in Act II by Magnolia as her audition for a new job as a singer after Ravel leaves her. “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” delivered a significant contribution to the plot of Show Boat. When Julie is singing the song to Magnolia Queenie walks in and she states that she has only heard colour people singing this song and that it’s funny for Mrs. Julie to know it. After this comment is made Julie gets defensive saying of course she can sing the entire song and questioning what Queenie thinks is so funny about her knowing this song. Later in the play Julie is found to be half black and is forced to leave the Cotton Blossom. Julie knowing the words to a song that most people think only black people know is the first hint in the play that Julie is hiding something.

The last time “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is performed in Act II also contributes to a change in the plot....
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