The musical theater has long been a keen interest for Max Myover. While in high school he sang the tenor role in Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance and was active in other school dramatic productions. In college at Northwestern University during 1944 and 1945 he was musical director and arranger for the original student-written musical comedies Lady, You're Gone! and Roman Holiday. In 1946 he was Co-chairman of, and an arranger for, NU's first WAA-MU show after World War II - Here We Go Again! These shows were notable, for included in their casts were such future stage and screen stars as Charlotte Rae, Chloris Leachman and Paul Lynde.
In subsequent years Max has written and arranged the music for a number of original musicals produced by community organizations and industrial companies. For 15 straight years, Max was musical director, composer, and arranger for the annual Ferguson, Missouri, Lions Club Show that raised money for the Lions Club's charities. He was associate production director, composer, and arranger for the McDonnell Aircraft Company's employee written and produced Air Revue for three successive shows in 1953, 1955, and 1957. There were other St. Louis companies producing employee produced musical shows that Max was musical director/arranger also. These included such large corporations as International Shoe and General American Insurance.
The major musicals that Max has written include the following:
While he was an associate professor of music at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, Max was involved in the creation and production of the original musical drama: He's Gone Away. For this show Max was one of the co-authors of the book (script), and co-composer of several of it's songs, as well as musical director, orchestra conductor, and arranger.
He's Gone Away is a music drama in three acts. The book is by Herbert R. Eschelman, Phillip Kaye, and Max Myover, with music by William F. Kugel and Max Myover. It was produced by the Drama and Music Departments of Dakota Wesleyan University in May 1951, and directed by Herb Eschelmann and Phil Kaye. Several well-known American folk songs were specially arranged for this musical including the title song He's Gone Away, and All the Pretty Little Horses. All of the original songs and music were written in the "folk song" idiom to ensure a consistency of this musical genre throughout the score.
The following is from the program notes of the premiere production , May 8, 9, 10, and 12, 1951:
"The plot of the music drama involves the lives of pioneers in the vicinity of Mitchell, Dakota Territory, following the Civil War. It's theme depicts the problems, joys and sorrows of these settlers. Dramatically, the conflict is between the pioneers and the prairie filled with hardship and difficulty. Why should the early settlers remain with such dogged determination.
Musically, He's Gone Away tries to appreciate the pioneer feeling; their hopes and dreams. Music and drama have been woven together intimately with a love story to include as much pioneer experience as possible. "He's Gone Away" portrays the actual history of this region. Many scenes have grown out of the factual experiences of early settlers."
He's Gone Away - list of musical numbers:
Act One: The general store. Spring, 1875.
Act Two: The general store, Early morning that Fall.
Act Three: The general store. Early Spring, 1876.
The last three years of the 15 years that Max was a part of the Ferguson, MO, Lions Club Shows were 1966, 1967, and 1968. During those three years there were three major musicals for which Max wrote music as well as serving as the musical director. These musicals were: Dinner With Sherry, Live It Up!, and Who Was That Lady?
In the Spring of 1966, for their 24th annual charities fund raiser, the Ferguson, MO, Lions Club, by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., produced a musical version of the Kaufman and Hart play "The Man Who Came to Dinner." Entitled Dinner With Sherry, the show played for three nights to the delight of the audiences, and was a large fund raising success. All of the songs and production numbers were original with lyrics by Virginia Humphrey and music by Max Myover.
In the Winter of 1996, Dinner With Sherry was presented by Characters, Inc., a St. Louis County little theater group, and ran for four performances with great success.
Dinner With Sherry - list of musical numbers:
In 1967, for it's Silver Anniversary Show, the Ferguson Lions Club presented, through special arrangement Dramatists Play Service, Inc., a musical version of another Kaufman and Hart play- "You Can't Take It With You." The show was entitled- Live It Up! As in the previous year, all of the songs and production numbers were original with lyrics by Virginia Humphrey and music by Max Myover.
The musical, Live It Up!, was a big success and played for four performances to packed houses.
Live it Up!- list of musical numbers:
In 1968, the Ferguson Lions Club, for their charity fund raiser, again produced a musical version of a famous stage play and motion picture. That year they chose, by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., Norman Krasna's comedy: "Who Was That Lady I Saw You With?". The musical version was entitled simply Who Was That Lady? and ran for four performances to packed houses. Another very big success, it was of great benefit to the Lions Club charities.
This time Max shared the writing of the musical score with Betty Innes, and the lyrics were written by Sharron Naumann and Fred Innes. Other writers who contributed to the score were Bob Roland and Lu DeOgny. However, Max created all of the arrangements of the songs which resulted in a musically consistent score.
Who Was That Lady?- list of musical numbers:
(a) Lyrics by Sharron Naumann, music by Max Myover.
(b) Music and lyrics by Lu DeOgny and Max Myover.
In 1975, the Florrissant Valley Community College asked Max to write the music for an original musical production by the college to contribute to the bicentennial celebration of the America's Declaration of Independence. This was to be a major effort by the entire drama department for production in the winter of 1975/1976. And it may have well been the only original musical written expressly for the 200th birthday of the U. S. of A.
The basic plan of the musical was to present certain historical facts about America in such a way as to be both thought provoking and entertaining, as well as good theatre. A talented writer, David Marshall, who was on the theatre staff at the college, was chosen to write the book and lyrics for the show. And he and Max agreed on a working title that stuck - U. Sam & Co.
The musical was to be in two acts and would deal with many historical issues, celebrations, and a few controversies that have contributed to the origins, growth and development of the United States and its people. As Victor Volland, then a staff writer and critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, put in his review of the premiere performance,
"... The slant taken by... Marsall and Myover was that American history is essentially a series of revolutions perpetrated by one have-not minority after another against the majority haves. M & M have painted it not only red, white and blue but also black, brown, yellow and maybe off-white to cover all the nationalities that have sought to bubble upward in what became known as the melting pot - not to mention that other subjugated "minority," women."
In collaboration, David and Max planned and tentatively worked out each of the musical numbers, and its placement in the show, before either the lyrics or music were written. As a result, they achieved a cohesiveness of ideas, a creative freshness, and solid agreement on styles of presentation for each number.
U. Sam & Co. had its world premiere on November 19, 1975, and was received with critical acclaim as well as standing ovations from the audiences. During its premiere, it played for 5 performances at the Florissant Valley Community College Theatre. There were three "encore" performances on January 30, 31, and February 1 at Florissant Valley, and it had two performances at Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas, in early February of 1976.
The cast of U. Sam & Co. was an ensemble of 16 very talented and accomplished performers who acted, sang, and danced through "history" together- and in many different parts and roles. In the company were Gail Allen, Joan Bouise, Jay Cook, Cindy Duggan, Pat Forrestal, Robert Foster, Jo Ann Holt, John January, Jane Kelsey, James Koeller, Tim Nadeau, William Osby, Wendy Stevenson, Donna Suits, Betty Willoughby, with John Brawley as U. Sam.
Terry Williams directed the musical, and choreographed the musical numbers; Gary Schaefer conducted the nine-piece orchestra in the pit. The set, a polished "Broadway-esque" circus-style extended circular stage raked toward the audience, was designed by Alan Lerstrom. Lighting was by Fred Winkleman, and multi-media effects were by Dick Teneau. Karen Knoll's star spangled costumes, some 250 in all, were one of the highlights of the show.
The Florissant Valley Community College entered U. Sam & Co. in the 1976 American College Theatre Festival (presented by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Alliance For Arts Education, produced by the American Theatre Association, and sponsored by The Standard Oil Division of Amoco Oil Company). And U. Sam & Co. won the first place award in the central division competition. Later, in the final competition for national awards during February 4 - 8, 1976, at Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas, it came in a close second to another college's production of the well-known musical, Godspell.
U. Sam & Co. - a listing of the musical numbers.