This exhibition, which runs in response to "The Great American Revue: How Florenz Ziegfeld, George White and Their Rivals Remade Broadway," at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, through July 27, will display some of Urban's original watercolor drawings for the Ziegfeld Follies spanning the years 1915 through 1931, including his Zeppelin Over London Scene and Map for Hello Frisco Scene (Follies of 1915), the latter in celebration of the recently inaugurated transcontinental telephone service.
Also shown will be his Paris Scene of a bridge over the Seine (Follies of 1921), which was the setting for Fanny Brice's rendition of "My Man," which would become the greatest hit of her career. Urban's drawing of the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn for the scene "Dance Away the Night" (Follies of 1931) will additionally be on view. These, and many other watercolors, are augmented by black and white photographs of drawings not in the archive.
Set models on display include the Cotton Field Scene (Follies of 1927), where Ruth Etting and the Jazzbow Girls performed "Shaking the Blues Away;" the Changing of the Guards Scene, where the Follies Girls paraded in uniform before Urban's faithful rendering of Buckingham Palace (Follies of 1931); and for the George White Scandals of 1931, day and night views of the Empire State Building, then the world's tallest building, just completed in May of that year.
When Joseph Urban died in 1933 at the age of 61, he had produced more stage and screen designs, in a wider range of styles, than anyone else of his time. Of these, were all of the Ziegfeld Follies from 1915 until 1931 (except 1925), 29 Midnight Frolics, as well as a number of other Broadway shows including Rio Rita and Show Boat for Ziegfeld.
This exhibition is free and open to the public.
A digital exhibition is also available to view online.
For more information on the exhibition or archive, please contact:
Jennifer B. Lee
Curator, Performing Arts Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library