In 1959, Oregon’s Centennial year, humorist Stan Freberg was asked by the Blitz Weinhard brewing company for some ideas on how to celebrate Oregon’s 100th birthday.
Stan Freberg: "I suggested that it might be a nice idea if they threw a big birthday party with ice cream and cake and paper hats and noise makers. Well I might as well have saved my breath because as it turned out, the only noise maker they were interested in was me. They thought the matter through and decided to give Oregon a birthday gift that all Oregonians could enjoy, something much more durable than ice cream and cake. They wanted a musical comedy, complete with a story, songs and music. It started to be quite a short musical comedy, say five minutes in length. But it grew longer and longer and longer until it had three acts and lasted 21 minutes."
Freberg is talking about “Oregon, Oregon: A Centennial Fable in Three Acts”.
It was broadcast on the radio 50 years ago, but never made it to the stage.
Now, for Oregon’s 150th birthday, the Portland band Pink Martini and Oregon National Guard 234th Army Band will stage the musical with a new fourth act.
Thomas Lauderdale is the leader of Pink Martini. He was introduced to some of the songs in the musical a few years ago by a colleague.
Listen to Geoff Norcross talk with Lauderdale about the project.
That’s Thomas Lauderdale of the band Pink Martini. His updated “Oregon! Oregon!” – now a Sesquicentennial Fable in Four Acts – premieres Saturday evening at the Oregon State Fair in Salem.
Here’s a little bit of Stan Freberg’s original musical from 1959, where a witch is making good on a threat to stuff Oregon back in a bottle after a hundred years of statehood.
A California fruit inspector actually saves Oregon in the end.