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The Honeymood Express

There is very little material available on Al Jolson's fourth Broadway show, The Honeymoon Express, but the above graphic from The Jolson Story captures the sense that this show catapulted young Al Jolson to the heights of stardom.

Perhaps one of the best ways to appreciate the impact of Al Jolson is to look at the billing for the show through the months of its run.

14 Feb 1913

18 Feb 1913

21 Feb 1913

02 Mar 1913

28 Apr 1913

04 May 1913

  


Running for 156 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre, The Honeymoon Express was Al Jolson's fourth Broadway vehicle. The show opened on February 6, 1913, and closed on Jun 14, 1913.

Loosly based on a play called The Turtle, Al Jolson reprised his role of Gus, in a plot concerning a divorce interrupted by a telegram stating that the husband had inherited four million francs from his Uncle Maurice, if he was married. But the book was only an excuse for Al Jolson to take to the stage, and take to it he did.

According to a quote from Goldman's Jolson - The Legend Comes To Life, Acton Davies wrote in the New York Evening Sun, "There wasn't half enough for him to do ... but just at the end, he had a Spanish song which aroused shrieks of laughter. The audience simply would not let go; even Gaby herself had to take a back seat on the piano stool -- which she did with charming grace, by the way -- while the audience made Mr. Jolson sing song after song. It's really a pleasure in these apathetic theatrical days to seen an artist get such an ovation. And every bit of it was deserved."

Among the cast on opening night was a young lady who would interesect with Al Jolson many times through the coming years, Fannie Brice.

Here is a photo of the company of The Honeymood Express, with Al Jolson front and center:
On April 28, 1913, Gaby Deslys left the show, and Al Jolson assumed the starring position, creating a "second edition" of The Honeymoon Express. One of the Jolson legends was born during this time. Al Jolson interpolated "You Made Me Love You" into the program following his elevation to the top billing. He would perform the song in many ways, sometimes straight, sometimes in one of a variety of dialects. He assumed a "bit" made famous by Blossom Seeley, who had appeared with Jolson in A Night with the Pierrots the previous year at The Winter Garden. In that show, Seeley dropped to one knee while singing "Toddlin' the Todalo," and Jolson appropriated the gesture for "You Made Me Love You." He fabricated a story about using the position to relieve pain on an ingrown toenail, proffering it to journalists who repeated it so often perhaps even he believed it. But the one-knee position quickly became a Jolson trademark, no matter what the source.

The Honeymood Express The end of the first act of The Honeymoon Express appears to have used a film, which was produced on January 21, 1913, and premiered at the opening of the show at the Hyperion Theatre, in New Haven, Connecticut, on February 3, 1913. This quarter-reel short featured Al Jolson, Gaby Deslys, Harry Pilcer and Ada Lewis. The description we have, thanks to Herb Goldman, is as follows:

The final scene of Act I of The Honeymoon Express consisted of a frantic race between an automobile driven by Gus (Jolson), with Baudry (Pilcer), Yvonne (Deslys), and Mme. De Bressie (Lewis) as passengers, and a train traveling to Rouen on which Henry Dubonet (Ernest Glendinning) is supposedly a passenger. The film, which depicted the chase, ended with the car and train about to pull into Rouen at the same time. On the stage, the screen was raised, the lights came on, and the orchestra stuck its final notes as both the car and train were shown beside each other at the Rouen station. The was the finale of Act I.

During the first part of the run of the show, Al Jolson's listed songs included "That Gal of Mine," "Give Me the Hudson Shore," and "My Yellow Jacket Girl." During the second edition, Jolson's repertoire grew to include "Where The Red, Red Roses Grow," "You Made Me Love You," "Good Bye Boys," "I Love Her (Oh! Oh! Oh!), and "Down Where The Tennessee Flows." Later, he also added "He'd Have To Get Under - Get Out and Get Under," "I'm On My Way To Mandalay," "Who Paid The Rent For Mrs. Rip Van Winkle," and "While They Were Dancing Around."

Al Jolson singing My Yellow Jacket Girl Al Jolson singing You Made me Love You No recording of Good Bye Boys exists
Billy Murray singing He'd Have To Get Under Al Jolson singing Who Paid The Rent For Mrs. Rip Van Winkle

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This listing and material Copyright © 1995-2014 Marc I. Leavey, M.D. Baltimore, Maryland
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