Revivals: House of Flowers

Back in the days when Truman Capote wore bangs, he wrote a short story called House of Flowers about the ladies of a bordello on a Caribbean island. When he expanded it into a musical comedy in 1954, it fairly swarmed with talent—Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll sang, Geoffrey Holder danced, Balanchine worked on the choreography, Oliver Messel designed the sets, and Harold Arlen turned out a lilting, lyrical musical score. Nonetheless, House of Flowers faded fast.

Too much gilding for the lily was the diagnosis—too much manner for the matter. "I had wanted it to be a simple...

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