Ford Theater

471116 Carmen Jones

Originally aired November 16, 1947

Carmen Jones was a 1943 Broadway musical, later also performed a 1954 musical film; the play also ran for a season in 1991 at London’s Old Vic. It is an updating of the Georges Bizet opera Carmen in an African-American setting. (Bizet’s opera was, in turn, based on the 1846 novella by Prosper Mérimée.) The Broadway musical was produced by Billy Rose, using an all-black cast. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the book (dialogue) and lyrics, but stuck rather closely to Bizet’s original music, which was re-orchestrated for a Broadway orchestra by Robert Russell Bennett.

The original Broadway cast were nearly all new to the stage; Kennedy and Muir write that on the first day of rehearsal only one member of the cast had ever been on a stage before.

The 1954 film was adapted by Hammerstein and Harry Kleiner. It was directed by Otto Preminger and starred Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.

Parachute maker Carmen Jones makes a play for a soldier named Joe, who is in love with sweet Cindy Lou. After meeting boxer Husky Miller, she is asked along with her friends Frankie and Mert, to go to a boxing match with them. She declines. She eventually gets bored with Joe and leaves. Later, Carmen abandons Joe to pursue Husky Miller. She accepts his invitation to go to his boxing match. Joe then abandons Cindy to pursue Carmen; when she rejects him, he kills her.