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[[left image - black and white photograph of cast of show "Very Good Eddie"]]

[[right image - black and white photograph of director Bill Gile]]

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by Louis Botto
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"If you're going to revive an old musical," advises Bill Gile, director of the currently successful restoration of Jerome Kern's 1915 musical, Very Good Eddie, "please don't make fun of it." Mr. Gile, who has brilliantly piloted five vintage musicals (Eddie, Sunny, Good News, Girl Crazy, Bloomer Girl, Where's Charley?) at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut, has a solid concept for the proper care of these antiques. (His Very Good Eddie was transported intact from Goodspeed to the Booth Theatre on Broadway, with no spoilage en route.)

"Before I started directing Eddie," the supercharged young director told us, "I asked my cast to believe in the show as originally done, and not to ask contemporary questions about sense and motivation. When I directed Sunny a few years ago, the cast wanted motivation for every tune or twitch they had to perform. That's ridiculous. You can't expect people in a 1915, 1920 or 1930 musical to act the way people do today ―― thank God."

Bill's work on these relics goes far beyond directing them. He reads all the original reviews, tracks down the original sheet music in attics, antique shops and libraries, talks to the original cast and authors (if one of them is still alive) and attempts to keep the show as close to the original as possible.

His problems with Eddie? "The show was an hour too long," he told us. "In those days, these shows were cast with burlesque comics who interpolated their own songs and comedy sketches into the libretto. In Eddie, there were added songs not by Kern, and vaudeville sketches that had nothing to do with the book. There was a whole parody on the well-made play which I had to cut because it had nothing to do with the plot. Worse than that, the ending was incredibly abrupt! It was as if someone announced that it was midnight and the curtain had to come down. The mismatched couples didn't get unraveled; they were stuck with each other for eternity――or for 1970's revivals of the show."

Other Gile changes: "The original score was not very voluminous, as far as Kern's contributions were concerned. I used ten numbers from the original, restored the show-stopping "I've Got to Dance," which was cut from the original score, and added eight Kern songs from other shows, dating from 1913 to 1923. In all instances, the added songs fitted the characters and

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[[images: signatures of Tom Margittai and Paul Kovi]]

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