Jordan River Revue records, 1921-1966, bulk 1922-1933
A Guide to the Records at the Indiana University Archives
Processed by Kate Ball
Electronic finding aid
encoded by Liling Tseng and Caitlin Hunter
Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Jordan River Revue.
Jordan River Revue records, 1921-1966, bulk 1922-1933
1.9 cubic feet (3 boxes)
Materials are in English.
The Jordan River Revue was originally
conceived as a benefit performance featuring Indiana University students to raise money
for a new auditorium. Though strongest in the 1920s and 1930s, the Revue continued until
1966. Notable performers through the years included students Hoagy Carmichael and
Charles "Bud" Dant. The collection consists of scrapbooks, correspondence, minutes,
scripts, song lyrics, musical scores, and programs.
This collection is open for research.
Advance notice is required.
The first Jordan River Revue was brought to fruition by Charles Hays, the superintendent
of grounds and buildings and an avid supporter of drama and theatre at Indiana
University. Charles Hays sought to raise money through the Memorial Fund to build a new
auditorium that would accommodate full-scale theatre productions. The Jordan River Revue
was conceived as a benefit performance, featuring exclusively student talent at all
levels of writing, directing, and performing.
In November of 1921, Mr. Hays sought the musical assistance of student, George “Dixie”
Heighway, who led a dance band with experience in theatrical productions. On 8 December
1921, they posted an advertisement for auditions in the Daily Student and created a
committee to write and direct all facets of the production. The original committee
consisted of Helen Coblentz, P.E. instructor and dance director; James S. Adams, writer;
William Rawles, Jr., publicity manager; Katherine Rice, lyricist and costumer; and
Walter Stiner, composer. The plot and script were developed as a collaborative effort
between student coaches, directors, artists and composers.
Over the course of December 1921 and January 1922, numerous auditions were held
resulting in 75 students being chosen as actors, dancers, singers, and musicians for the
first Revue. The final cast was announced to the public on 14 February 1922, leaving
approximately two weeks for rehearsal before the first performance on 2 March 1922.
The Jordan River Revue was an immediate success. It played to a full house at its
premiere on 2 March 1922 in Old Assembly Hall. Due to its popularity in Bloomington, a
tour to Indianapolis, Indiana, was arranged for 11 April 1922 at the Murat Theater.
Rehearsal minutes from the first Jordan River Revue reveal that, as late as 8 April, the
script was being rewritten and new musical numbers were being added. In addition, the
Jordan River Revue was also performed during commencement weekend that same year. The
performances of the 1922 Revue netted $600.00 for the Memorial Fund Drive. After
graduating, bandleader Dixie Heighway went on to manage future fundraising efforts as
Alumni Secretary and director of the IU Foundation.
A highlight of the 1922 Jordan River Revue was the jazz music of Hoagy Carmichael, then
a student at Indiana University. His “Carmichael and Company” jazz group played in the
Revue’s New York cabaret vignette. A notable associate of Carmichael, Charles “Bud”
Dant, appeared in later Jordan River Revues, first as an assistant musical director and
composer in 1929 and then as leading man in 1931. Bud Dant is also known for making the
first transcription and arrangement of Carmichael’s famous composition “Stardust” in
Though the first Revue was produced on a $65.00 budget with a largely volunteer cast and
crew and a plot designed around donated scenery, the overwhelming success of the
original 1922 production won the Jordan River Revue a substantial budget for subsequent
years. By 1931, the Jordan River Revue had a budget of $9,350.00 and toured throughout
Indiana. In scrapbooks of the newspaper clippings of the 1931 Revue, 22 towns around
Indiana featured articles about the Revue. Though the tour did not travel to all 22
localities, the Revue had gained such wide acclaim that citizens of these towns traveled
to see the show in Muncie, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis.
In October 1932, a permanent campus all-dramatics board was formed; this board combined
the resources for several campus variety shows, including the Jordan River Revue and the
Garrick Gaieties, to produce one professionally written production titled The University
Revue. Due to the strain of the Great Depression, the Revue halted production in 1933,
and the production did not tour from 1934-1937. The student-produced Jordan River Revue
resumed regular production in 1938, having regained its budget from the university.
Throughout this period, the high quality of student talent remained a hallmark of the
Revue. In 1940 and 1941 the script and score won the regional award for best college
musical play from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
The Revue continued through 1943, taking a 2 year hiatus during World War II. When the
war ended, Dr. Lee Norvelle, director of the University Theatre, revived the Jordan
River Revue for the 1945-46 school year. Incidentally, Norvelle was instrumental in
realizing Charles Hays’ original goal of building a new theatre, which was completed and
dedicated on 22 March 1941.
The popularity of the Jordan River Revue peaked in the 1920s and 1930s, but the Revue
remained a well-loved campus institution into the 1960s. By the late 1950s, the quality
of the Revue was less consistent and experimental scripts and plots proved less
successful. The 1957 Revue centered round a teenager using South African voodoo in a
botched attempt to fix up her coed sister’s love life. In 1958, the plot focused on a
young witch who longed to become mortal and featured a ‘flying’ witch on guy-wires.
Despite the Revue’s technical display, the Indiana Daily Student commented that “the
lack of plot and dialog hindered the show and the resort to profanity did not bring
response. It lacked subtlety.” (15 March 1958) The 1959 production returned to more
traditional subject matter and was “a deluxe Jordan River Revue, which IU has sorely
missed the last two years.” (IDS, 14 March 1959) The 1960 Revue looked to tradition even
further by featuring a revival of the popular 1949 Jordan River Revue, The Bandmaster,
rather than a new script and score.
The quality of the productions may have waned, in part, due to lack of funding.
Administrative records show that in 1929, the score was commissioned from Amos Otstot
for $175.00. By 1961, the compensation for both the script and score was a $100 prize
from the Speech and Theatre Department. The winner of this competition, Lee Devin,
produced a script satirizing student life at IU in a “corny and gaudy farce.” The
“script’s highest aim was a laugh,” but it was still a success with students. (IDS, 10
March 1962) The last program in the collection dates from this 1962 production and
clippings from the Indiana Daily Student also indicate that the Revue was not performed
A 5 January 1966 IDS headline stated that “Poor scripts seal fate… Jordan River Revue’s
rebirth chances bleak.” With lack of participation in the script and score writing
contest, quality scripts were hard to find. Theatre professor William E. Kinzer (who
co-directed the Jordan River Revue in the 1950’s) also commented that other
student-produced shows and musical groups filled the place of the Jordan River Revue and
that the student talent, once so vital in the Revue, had been channeled elsewhere. No
further mention of a revival of the Jordan River Revue is found after 1966.
Organized into eight series: Administrative files; Correspondence; Financial records;
Scene dialogues and lyrics; Sheet music; Programs and flyers; Scrapbooks and clippings;
and Show files.
Scope and Content Note
This collection is comprised of eight series: Administrative files; Correspondence;
Financial reports; Scene dialogues and lyrics; Sheet music; Programs and flyers;
Scrapbooks and clippings; and Show files.
The Administrative files series is broken into sub-series by subject and then arranged
chronologically. It contains a variety of documents on the Jordan River Revue, including
minutes and history on the first Jordan River Revue of 1922; a roster of dramatic,
musical, and dance directors, writers and business managers from 1922-1948; a contract
with composer Amos Otstot for the score and musical accompaniment of the 1929 Revue; and
tour information from the early 1930’s such as rooming arrangements and schedules.
The Correspondence series consists primarily of correspondence relating to the care and
chaperoning of the female students who participated in the Jordan River Revues. In 1932,
Agnes Wells, the Dean of Women, wrote to the parents of each girl accepted to the cast
to gain parental consent, assuring them that all rehearsals and trips would be
chaperoned and that only girls in good academic standing were allowed to participate.
The correspondence file contains copies of each of her letters and the responses from
parents. Another highlight is a 1926 letter from an upset taxpayer denouncing the
vulgarity and “wild recklessness” of the Jordan River Revue. The series also contains a
note from 1952, unsigned but presumably from Charles Hays, presenting the original
script of the first Jordan River Revue to George “Dixie” Heighway. The Correspondence
series is arranged chronologically.
The Financial records series consists of budgetary material from the early years of the
Jordan River Revue, 1925-1933. These records are arranged in chronological order. The
series contains reports on the production costs of the Revue in 1925, 1928, 1929, 1931,
1932, and 1933, as well as some undated notes on traveling expenses.
Scene dialogues and lyrics is the next series in the collection. It features the
original script for the first Jordan River Revue in 1922 and two drafts of the 1929
script of scene dialogues, a bound copy of the 1938 script, and original song lyrics for
the 1922 Revue by Katherine Rice, as well as some undated hand-written lyrics. The
material in this series is also arranged chronologically
Related to the Scene dialogues and lyrics series is the Sheet music series, containing
the original scores and orchestrations of music for the Jordan River Revues. This series
is arranged in chronological order, with one miscellaneous folder at the end that
contains several items of published sheet music and hand-written pieces that are
Programs and flyers is a substantial series consisting of the programs and publicity
flyers for the Revues, spanning from 1922 to 1962, with a few gaps throughout these
years. The programs and flyers are ordered chronologically.
The final series is comprised of Scrapbooks and clippings documenting the Jordan River
Revue. There are fragments of a 1929 scrapbook of newspaper clippings and a 1931
newspaper clipping about the Jordan River Revue. These items are filed in chronological
order. The series also contains a collection of photocopied clippings from the Indiana
Daily Student relating to the Jordan River Revue. They are arranged chronologically by
There are also three complete scrapbooks from 1929-1931, which are housed with the
archives photo collection. In addition to photographs, the complete scrapbooks for
1929-1931 contain a copy of the script of that year’s Revue and clippings from papers in
all the towns through which the Revue traveled. The 1930 scrapbook contains the musical
score and the 1931 file features memorabilia from the tour, such as postcards from the
hotels and theatres where the Revue’s played. Please ask staff for more details on the
scrapbooks housed in the photo archives.
In 2009, the Archives received a transfer of additional Jordan River Revue show files
from the Department of Theatre and Drama. These show files were added to the end of the
collection and consist of photographs, sheet music, programs, newspaper clippings,
correspondence, scripts, and recordings from Revue performances spanning 1930-1960.
Files are arranged chronologically.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
IUCAT, the IU Libraries' online
catalog. Materials about related topics, persons or places can be found by searching the
catalog using these terms.
4th duplication of sheet music for 1929 Jordan River Revue discarded.
3 scrapbooks of the Jordan River Revue, 1929, 1930, 1931 can be found in the Archives
Photo collection. In addition to many original production photos, they also include
scripts, sheet music, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from the performances and
tours of the Revue. Please ask staff for details.
More information on Hoagy Carmichael and Bud Dant, as well photos of Dixie Heighway with
Carmichael can be found in the Hoagy Carmichael Collection of the Archives of
Traditional Music, available via the Digital Library Program at
More information on Dr. Lee Norvelle’s involvement with the Jordan River Revue can be
found in the “Lee Roy Norvelle papers, 1929-1967,” Collection C56, at the Indiana
Additional information on the history and development of the IU Auditorium can also be
found at the Indiana University Archives in Collection C201, Indiana University
Auditorium Manager's records, 1941-1946.
Copyright interests for this collection have been transferred to the Trustees of
Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University
[Item], Jordan River Revue records, Collection C242, Office of University Archives
and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processed by Kate Ball.
Completed in 2004.
Show files series added to collection in 2009.
Administrative files, 1921-1932,
Minutes of Auditions and Rehearsals for 1922 Jordan River Review,
Roster of Writers and Directors, 1922-1948
Contract with Amos Otstot for Score, 1929
Rooming Arrangements on Tours, 1931,
Girls in the Chorus of the Jordan River Review, 1931-1932,
Tour Schedule, 1932
Financial records, 1925-1933,
Financial Records, 1925-1933,
Scene dialogues and lyrics, 1922-1938,
Original Scene Dialogue, 1922
Unbound Scene Dialogue, 1929
Bound Scene Dialogue, 1929
Revised Manuscript of Scene Dialogue, 1938
Song Lyrics, 1922
Sheet music, 1922-1947,
Original Compositions, music by Walter Stiner / lyrics by Katherine
Original Compositions, lyrics and music by Amos Otstot &
Charles “Bud” Dant, 1929
Orchestration by Amos Otstot & Charles “Bud” Dant,
(former library copy)
Extra Parts of Orchestrations, 1929
Program and flyers, 1922-1962,
Scrapbooks and clippings, 1928-1966
Scrapbook pages for Jordan River Revue, 1929
(The dates within quotations reflect the title of each IDS Clippings File,
the dates in parentheses reflect the actual date range for the articles in
IDS Clippings File,
“Jordan River Revue, 1929” (1928-1929)
“Jordan River Revue, 1930, 1953” (1930)
“Jordan River Revue, 1931” (1930-1931)
“Jordan River Revue, 1932” (1931-1932)
“Jordan River Revue, 1936” (1936)
“Jordan River Revue, 1939” (1939-1940)
“Jordan River Revue, 1940” (1940)
“Jordan River Revue, 1941” (1940-1941)
“Jordan River Revue, 1942” (1942-1943)
“Jordan River Revue, 1943” (1943)
“Jordan River Revue, 1945” (1945,
“Jordan River Revue, 1948-1952” (1948-1952)
“Jordan River Revue, The Bandmaster” (1949,
“Jordan River Revue, 1952-1954” (1952-1954)
“Nautical but Nice, Jordan River Revue, 1955” (1955)
“Jordan River Revue, 1955-1958” (1955-1958)
“Jordan River Revue, 1956-1957” (1956-1958)
“Jordan River Revue, 1959” (1959)
“Jordan River Revue, 1960” (1960)
“Jordan River Revue, 1960-1962” (1962)
“Jordan River Revue, general” (1966)
The following three items are housed in the Photo collection, separately
from the rest of the collection, please ask staff for further details.
Photos, 1939, 1947, 1949, 1951, undated
Devil May Care Script, 1942
Unidentified Script, 1942
Have a Heart, 1942
Have a Heart Scripts, 1942
Correspondence and Miscellaneous, 1942
Two for the Show Scripts, 1946
Two for the Show, 1946, undated
It's Friday, 1947
Program/Script, 1948, undated
The Bandmaster, 1948, 1949, undated
The Bandmaster, 1949
The Merry Widow, 1949
Miscellaneous, 1946, 1948, 1949, undated
Garrett Cope Revue, 1950
The Merry Widow, 1950
Spring is Here Scripts, 1951, undated
Spring is Here, 1951
Alma Mater Script, 1952
Alma Mater, 1952
Welcome to France, 1954
Nautical but Nice, 1955
Carnival Crazy, 1956
Springtime and Stephanie Script, undated
Springtime and Stephanie, 1957
The Bandmaster, 1960
Unidentified Script, undated
Beat as One recording, undated
Love is a Marionette recording, undated
Wherever You Go recording, undated
J. R. Blues recording, undated
Ladies Club Tea recording, undated
Here I Go Again Slow recording, undated
Here I Go Again Fast recording, undated
J. Roger Blues recording, undated