Stan Freberg Musical Sells Out

Oregon’s Willamette Week Online (WWeek.com) reports that Portland’s September 5th live performance of Stan Freberg‘s 1959 musical “Oregon! Oregon!” has sold out, as well as the Sunday, August 30th show in Jacksonville, OR.

Image courtesy Oregon150.org

Image courtesy Oregon150.org

According to WWeek.com, you can tune into a broadcast of Live Wire! Radio‘s 8.22 live recording (which “previewed three numbers from the show”) today (Saturday, 8.29) at 7 PM (PST) on Oregon Public Radio… which is only useful to those living within the broadcast area, unfortunately. OPB.org does appear to offer a streaming live broadcast, but (and this is very frustrating to this Freberg fan) clicking the “on demand” link on the site to listen live yields a “502 Bad Gateway” page (whatever that is).

I am contacting Live Wire Radio to see if perhaps they might be offering this same broadcast in the future by way of their podcast.

Now, for a little history lesson on this lesser-known Freberg gem, courtesy of Shellac.org and the musical’s official page on Oregon150.org:

In 1958 – to celebrate the Oregon’s centennial (100th birthday) – the Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Company commissioned the Grammy Award-winning radio personality Stan Freberg to write a 21-minute-long musical comedy about the beaver state. What resulted was a hilarious tale of two explorers in 1859 named Harry and David, their encounter with a witch, and the subsequent birth of a state which must go back into the bottle after 100 years … that is, if the citizens of 1959 can’t break the spell.

It was premiered on radio during the Oregon Centennial in 1959, and was distributed to radio stations as a twelve inch vinyl LP album. Side One featured two versions of an introduction by Freberg, (billed as “Stan Freberg, Matinee Idol”), with the second version including a few words from William W. Wessinger, the president of Blitz Weinhard Co. This was followed by the show itself, which runs for 21 minutes. Side Two includes separate individual versions of each of the featured songs, including several variations on the title piece, “Oregon! Oregon!”

The plot, (attributed to “M. Goose”) loosely follows the tale of Rumplstitskin, who is personified in this tale as a Witch, who “bottles” states. When the state of Oregon is un-corked, the Witch tells the two explorers, (named “Harry & David” in an obvious commercial nod to the Medford, Oregon mail order gift fruit outfit), that it must go back in the bottle after a hundred years.

When the Centennial rolls around, the witch offers a reprieve if someone can come up with her real name. A California Fruit Inspector happens to over hear her, and saves the day. The Witch, (aka “Miss Columbia River Salmon 1822”), stomps her feet so hard, she falls through the dock at the Centennial party and plunges into Coos Bay.

Click here to listen to the original 1959 recording of the “Oregon! Oregon!” theme, courtesy of Oregon150.org.

Here’s a paraphrased transcription of Stan’s 1959 introduction to the musical:

“I suggested that it might be a nice idea if they threw a big birthday party with ice cream and cake and paper hats and noise makers. Well I might as well have saved my breath because as it turned out, the only noise maker they were interested in was me. They thought the matter through and decided to give Oregon a birthday gift that all Oregonians could enjoy, something much more durable than ice cream and cake. They wanted a musical comedy, complete with a story, songs and music. It started to be quite a short musical comedy, say five minutes in length. But it grew longer and longer and longer until it had three acts and lasted 21 minutes.”

For complete details on the original musical recording and to listen to the album in its entirety, please visit Shellac Radio — shellac.org.

Other suggested reading/listening:

OPB.org: Oregon! Oregon! Musical Updated for 2009
NPR.org: Oregon’s 150 Calls For A New Act
The Most Official Unofficial Stan Freberg Website
The Unofficial Stan Freberg HERE Archives

In a bit of related news, Mark Evanier stated 8.18 on NewsfromME.com that he spent the day “in a recording studio directing the first three shows of the second season of The Garfield Show“:

We had a fine cast today. We have our regulars — Frank Welker (as the cat), Gregg Berger, Wally Wingert and Jason Marsden. We have our semi-regulars — Audrey Wasilewski, Julie Payne, Laura Summer and David L. Lander. And today, we had as guest stars, Stan Freberg, Laraine Newman and Jack Riley.

Whenever anyone asks me the secret of directing cartoon voices, I tell ’em it’s easy. Hire a cast like that, tell ’em which microphones to use and get out of their way. It’s hard work but enormous fun. Having grown up listening to Stan Freberg records (and having purloined much of my sense of humor from the man), I still find it a little unbelievable to be working with him.

And a Freberg-related news item I mentioned here may have gotten buried in my 7.22 VAs on DVD feature article:

Beany and Cecil (Matty’s Sunday Funnies): The Special Edition Volume 2 releases September 8th and includes 11 cartoons and bonus content, including “Time for Beany” (which features Stan Freberg and Daws Butler) and a feature entitled “Bob Clampett and Friends.” It features the voices of Jim MacGeorge, Irv Shoemaker, Lord Buckley, Scatman Crothers, and Paul Frees.

And Mark Evanier offered additional details on the above title in an 8.19 blog post:

A few years ago, a superb DVD came out that mainly covered the animated Beany & Cecil but it was crammed full of special features about Bob’s life, including materials from his vast files. The man saved everything and his son Robert Junior, in assembling the DVD, dipped into those archives and offered up some gems. I can’t think of another animation-related DVD I’ve ever bought that gave you more for your money. Alas…maddeningly…it was not a big success. It did not spawn a whole mess of other volumes and it went out of print and became hard to find.

So now we have two happy announcements. One is that Volume Two has been assembled anyway and it’ll be out next month. The other joyous news is that the Clampett Studio, run by his family, has stumbled across a few boxes of Volume One in the warehouse. So if you didn’t get one, you can get one now when you order this new collection. It has my highest recommendation and I can’t imagine that the new volume won’t, as well.

Go here. Click. Enjoy. You will.

It’s also worth noting that Stan celebrated his 83rd birthday on August 7th. Happy belated birthday, Stan!

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