The musical Fanny, which opened on Broadway November 4, 1954, was based on Marcel Pagnon's three plays Marius, Fanny, and César, recounting a romantic triangle set in Marseilles in the interwar period, with Fanny in love with Marius, who goes off to sea after impregnating her. She then marries Panisse, an older man, who dies, paving the way for Marius to return after the intercession of his father, César. The show reunited some of the principals from South Pacific, and nearly reunited even more of them. Joshua Logan again directed and co-wrote the book, while South Pacific cast members William Tabbert (as Marius) and Ezio Pinza (as César) also returned. First-time producer David Merrick initially wanted Mary Martin to play Fanny, and Rodgers & Hammerstein to write the songs, too, but that didn't work out, and Harold Rome came in as songwriter, with Florence Henderson (who had appeared in Rome's Wish You Were Here) taking over the title role. Oddly enough, those substitutions don't seem to have made that much difference in the overall sound of the score, as heard on the original Broadway cast recording. Rome, departing from his usual style, has come up with a set of lush, sentimental songs very much in the Rodgers & Hammerstein operetta mold, and Henderson's voice often suggests Martin's, though she is more of a soprano. Fanny doesn't have the wartime darkness and social conscience of South Pacific, of course, being more of a light romance, and that tends to emphasize the sentimentality. There are some major talents at work here, but they are working on a relatively minor piece.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann