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Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
COSTUME DESIGNS FOR "ST LOUIS WOMAN" (THEATRE--ART.) AYERS, LEMUEL. Group of five original watercolor sketches for the costumes for St Louis Woman. Various sizes, from 9x12 to 18x12 inches; the artist has made numerous corrections and attached samples of fabrics, as well a copious notes on the reverse of the pieces; condition varies. should be seen. New York, 1945
A group of original costume designs by the noted designer Lemuel Ayers (1915-1955), for a musical that had great difficulty getting off the ground. Ayers studied at Princeton and the University of Iowa before being chosen by Leonard Sillman to design sets for 1939 revivals of "Journey's End" and "They Knew What They Wanted." Major recognition came with his costume designs for the Maurice Evans-Judith Anderson "Macbeth" (1941). After collaborating on several movies together, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer returned to the Broadway stage to do a musical based on a novel by Arna Bontemps called "God Sends Sunday." Bontemps and poet Countee Cullen had turned the novel into a play called "St. Louis Woman," which they thought would be a powerful vehicle for the talented Lena Horne. Ill-luck beset the production from the start: Countee Cullen died before rehearsals even began, Lena Horne refused to star in the show because the protagonist was a woman of easy virtue, the choreographer was replaced, and the book itself posed serious problems. The show finally opened at the Martin Beck Theater on March 30, 1946, and lasted for 113 performances.