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I'd Rather Be Right

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'd Rather Be Right
First edition 1937
MusicRichard Rodgers
LyricsLorenz Hart
BookMoss Hart and George S. Kaufman
Productions1937 Broadway
2011 Revival

I'd Rather Be Right is a 1937 musical with a book by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and music by Richard Rodgers. The story is a Depression-era political satire set in New York City, about Washington politics and political figures, such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The plot centers on Peggy Jones (Joy Hodges) and her boyfriend Phil (Austin Marshall), who needs a raise in order for them to get married. The President steps in and solves their dilemma.


I'd Rather Be Right premiered on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on November 2, 1937, produced by Sam H. Harris, and transferred to the Music Box Theatre, and ran for 290 performances. It starred George M. Cohan as Franklin D. Roosevelt. In such pieces as "Off the Record", Cohan, as FDR, danced—not possible in real life for the President.


H. G. Wells wrote enthusiastically about the musical, and Cohan's performance as Roosevelt, in an article "The Fall in America 1937", published in Collier's on January 28, 1938, and reprinted in his World Brain (1938).

Cultural references

The musical is prominently featured in the 1942 Cohan biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy, in which it serves as a narrative bookend. James Cagney, playing Cohan, after meeting FDR in the Oval Office, performs a joyous tap dance as he walks back down the stairs of the White House. In the film, we also see Cagney as Cohan performing "Off the Record" during the show's run. (Because the film was made during World War II, the film also anachronistically added some morale-boosting lyrics at the end of the song)

Musical numbers

Original 1937 Playbill cover, with George M. Cohan as Franklin D. Roosevelt
Original 1937 Playbill cover, with George M. Cohan as Franklin D. Roosevelt

Act I

  • "A Homogeneous Cabinet"—Cabinet Members
  • "Have You Met Miss Jones?"—Peggy Jones and Phil Barker
  • "Take and Take and Take"—The Judge's Girl and Ensemble
  • "Spring in Vienna"—Tony
  • "A Little Bit of Constitutional Fun"—The Judge's Girl and Ensemble
  • "Sweet Sixty-Five"—Peggy Jones and Phil Barker
  • "We're Going to Balance the Budget"—The President of the United States and Company

Act II

  • "American Couple"—Ensemble
  • "Labor Is the Thing"—James B. Maxwell and Ensemble
  • "I'd Rather Be Right"—Peggy Jones, Phil Barker, The Judge's Girl, The President of the United States and Ensemble
  • "Off the Record"—The President of the United States
  • "A Baby Bond"—The Secretary of the Treasury


External links

  • I'd Rather Be Right at the Internet Broadway Database
  • "The President on Broadway: FDR, George M. Cohan, and I’d Rather Be Right" (March 8, 2016) by William A. Harris, FDR Library Deputy Director — Forward with Roosevelt, the blog of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
  • Time Magazine review, November 15, 1937
  • Essay on I'd Rather be Right in Studies in Musical Theatre, January 2007
  • I'd Rather Be Right, Libretto ISBN 1-4179-9228-X
This page was last edited on 6 July 2020, at 01:57
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