Bloomer Girl was a successful (if now essentially forgotten) Broadway musical that was adapted for television in an abbreviated version for the program Producer's Showcase. Celeste Holm, who had starred on Broadway, was replaced by Barbara Cook, a wise choice. The musical takes place just before the Civil War, and Evalina (Cook) is the only unmarried daughter of hoop (for skirts) manufacturer Horatio Applegate (Paul Ford). Her Aunt Dolly (Carmen Mathews) not only runs the newspaper but is an early feminist. Along comes Southern gentleman Jefferson Calhoun (Keith Andes), who is going to work for Horatio and begins courting an initially unimpressed Evalina. Unfortunately, Calhoun also brings along a slave, Pompey (Roy Spearman), who is hoping to stay North as a free man, something Evalina wants but which his owner may object to.
In this shortened version of the Broadway show, several of the lesser numbers have been cut. However, there's some gold in what remains: "When the Boys Come Home;" "Evalina;" "Sundays in Cicero Falls;" and the romantic duet "Right as the Rain" -- along with "The Eagle and Me" -- are the most memorable tunes. The lilting music is by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by E. Y. Harburg. Bloomer Girl isn't necessarily one of the all-time great musicals, but it is a worthwhile and interesting show which in some aspects was ahead of its time.
Verdict: Tuneful, well-done, and sometimes moving. ***.