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Broadway had not played host to so many black actors since the early 1920s; the important difference now was that these new shows were written, composed, and produced almost entirely by white artists.
Still, the number of black performers in plays and musicals on Broadway in 1946 was more than five times the number before World War II began.
In some ways, the increased professional opportunities for African Americans mirrored some slight social changes during the war. Although black army units were still segregated, there was a rise in social consciousness within white America.
A producer named Edward Gross optioned a play by two shining lights of the Harlem Renaissance, Arna Bontemps and Countee Cullen, and hired them to write the libretto, then asked Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer to compose the score. It was the first time in Broadway history that black and white writers would collaborate on the text of a musical.


Worst of all, in a show about bad luck and omens, Cullen died two weeks before rehearsal began.
Louis Woman” was mostly undone by its attempts to force a complex and unwieldy story into the conventions of the post-Rodgers and Hammerstein musical form.
The famed acrobatic dancing Nicholas Brothers were hired to headline, but only the pint-sized Harold had a real part. His brother Fayard had a contrived comic role, and they were given a dancing duel that had no narrative point. This time, his lyricist was the renowned African-American poet Langston Hughes, who added several black characters. The show, which featured lilting words and music by Harburg and Burton Lane, was set in the mythical Deep Southern state of Missitucky.


One of the subplots concerns a local racist senator (the papers at the time were filled with the real thing) who is turned into a black man, through a bit of misplaced Celtic magic. Facing criticism from black performers and political organizations, writers almost completely stopped creating black roles by the early 1950s. The civil rights movement that would so consume the country by the late 1950s was, with a few exceptions in the early 1960s, completely ignored by the Broadway musical.



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