cover image Inventing Champagne: The Worlds of Lerner and Loewe

Inventing Champagne: The Worlds of Lerner and Loewe

Gene Lees. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (350pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05136-5

In his latest musical biography, Lees ( Oscar Peterson ) adds analyses and gossip to his chronicle of two of American musical theater's most distinguished collaborators. The spotlight is primarily on lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (1919-1986) who made more news, usually scandalous, than did composer Frederick ``Fritz'' Loewe (1901-1985). The team that created My Fair Lady , Gigi and Camelot shares space in the text with the shows' stars: Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, etc., as well as director Moss Hart. The prolix author also includes data on Lerner's Oscar-winning work on An American in Paris and his failures after his breakup with Loewe: On a Clear Day and Paint Your Wagon . There is information as well on the lyricist's amphetamine addiction, eight wives and extramarital affairs. Lees names the mysterious lover whom Doris Shapiro, Lerner's assistant, in her book, We Danced All Night , referred to as ``Mrs. Douglas'': Jean Kennedy Smith. The book is engrossing as a kind of tale told out of school. (Nov.)