A Star Is Born - Soundtrack
Judy Garland's greatest screen performance gets its most complete
and sonically satisfying
recording here, with a dozen previously unreleased underscoring tracks
and three new vocals. Since Warner Brothers never
bothered to save the original tapes, the source recordings for this CD
have widely varied levels of sound quality, which even state of the art
remastering can only do so much to correct -- but the results are always
well worth hearing. Veteran producer Didier Deutsch (in league with Darcy
M. Proper) has has outdone himself, making this an archival delight.
Collectors who already have the popular 1988 CD will consider this a
Ace of Clubs - Original London Cast
Noel Coward fans will relish his 1950 look at life in a SoHo night club. Graham Payne, Pat Kirkwood
and Sylvia Cecil head a fine cast, and the catchy score includes "I
Like America" and "Sail Away." Bayview throws in four
rarely heard tracks of Coward performing. Most of the material is
effectively remastered. Two unremarkable orchestral
tracks sound scratchy and the booklet is skimpy, but
at this price there is no cause to complain.
Ankles Aweigh - Original Cast
In 1955, a team of show biz veterans got together and tried to write the
kind of "bring on the girls" musical comedy that had dominated
Broadway before Oklahoma came along. The result was this silly but often
enjoyable bit of froth. The original cast album has been on many a
showtune buff's list of guilty pleasures -- you know, those flop scores
you're almost ashamed to admit you listen to just for the fun of it.
Betty and Jane Kean (the latter best remembered for her years as the
second Trixie on TV's The Honeymooners) sing with brio, and the
songs include such surprise winners as "Nothing Can Replace a
Man." This remastering is a whopping improvement on the old LP's
sound quality. No one's idea of a lost masterpiece, but you just might
find yourself among Ankles Aweigh's secret fan club.
Bounce - Original Cast
When a new musical is showcased by the best possible talent, its faults
have no one to hide behind. Stephen Sondheim has invested years of
effort into this tale of two ambitious brothers, but one eventually has
to ask, "Why?" Not merely why Sondheim bothered, but why he thought
audiences would care. There is a lyric book in case you miss a word,
which you won't. An amazing cast gives their all, led by Howard McGillin, Michelle Pawk and Jane Powell.
Buffs will find this well-produced CD hard to resist, for all its
weaknesses. It's not that fans expected too much -- as a score, Bounce
offers damn near nothing.
Caroline or Change - Original Cast
Traditionalists may disapprove, but this ambitious score will fascinate
adventurous theatre fans. Composer Jeanne Tessori and playwright Tony
Kushner have turned out a contemporary folk opera, rich in character and
melody. The downside is that their scenes never focus into discernable
songs, so the result sounds like endless recitative -- with no arias to
satisfy the ear. Tonya Pinkins, Anika Noni Rose, Harrison Chad and
Veanne Cox head a dazzling cast, all of whom show off this difficult
material to powerful advantage.
Fade Out, Fade In - Original Cast
With pre-opening woes, harsh reviews and now-legendary leading lady
woes, this wacky musical comedy never got an even break -- until now.
Decca Broadway has served up a flawless remastering of one of the
least-known Jule Styne scores. Lots of laughs courtesy of Comden &
Green's lyrics, and stars Carol Burnett and Jack Cassidy never sounded
better. When Burnett lets loose with "The Usher From the
Mezzanine," its the glorious sound of Broadway at its shameless
best. What a pleasure to finally have this forgotten gem on CD.
The Little Prince - Original
Lerner & Loewe complained that director Stanley Donen mauled their
final screen score. That may be so, but there is much to enjoy in this
handsomely remastered recording. Richard Kiley, Donna McKechnie, and Bob
Fosse head a stellar cast, giving their all. The songs may not be all
the composers had hoped for, but their trademark lyrical wit and melodic
sweep are very much in evidence. The Little Prince is not much of a
film, but this recording proves the score has much for showtune lovers
Sherry - Studio Cast
Musical theatre buffs will not be able to resist this star-studded
recreation of the 1967 adaptation of The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Nathan Lane is delicious as the petulant Whiteside, Bernadette Peters
is perfect as his long-suffering secretary, and Carol Burnett sings
the hell out of the show-stopping title tune. Actor's Studio head
James Lipton must be delighted to hear his book & lyrics in such
dazzling hands -- and you'll enjoy his cameo as a benighted small town
doctor. Three cheers to producer Robert Sher for pulling
together this dream recording.
Shine - Off-Broadway Cast
Original Cast Records
By some silly accident, I missed the original staging of this charming
new musical. Luckily, this cast recording has preserved the bright,
melodic score by composer Roger Anderson and lyricist Lee Goldsmith.
(Samuel French carries Richard Seff's enjoyable libretto). This
Alger tale of a poor 1890s shoe-shining teen finding his way to success
has tons of period atmosphere, making it a natural for high schools and
regional theatres -- an entertaining all-American answer to
Oliver. The authors have the good sense to offer Alger's optimistic
"American dream" message undiluted, a risky but effective approach.
This CD features winning performances by Broadway favorites
like Harvey Evans and Carole Shelley, as well as some talented
newcomers like Jeremiah Miller & James Celentano. The electronic
orchestrations heard here are effective, but I
would love to hear these fine songs backed by traditional
instruments. Amateur groups looking for a new show to offer
audiences should give Shine serious consideration.
Song of Norway - Original Bway Cast
Fellow operetta buffs will enjoy this release. Kitty Carlisle joined
member of the original Broadway cast for this recording. Although there
have been earlier editions on CD, this new remastering has vastly
superior sound. With World War II raging, Broadway audiences embraced
this shamelessly sentimental operetta, which used Norwegian composer
Edvard Grieg's melodies and a thoroughly heterosexualized fictional
version of his life story. Lush favorites like "Strange Music (of
the Spheres)" and lesser known numbers like the showcase aria
"Now" make for grand, old-style entertainment.
Sundown - Studio Cast
Original Cast Records
It has been too long since we had a new musical set in the glory days of
America's Wild West. Answering this challenge, composer Peter Link (King
of Hearts) has teamed with lyricist Larry Rosler to create a musical
inspired by the legendary confrontation between Doc Holliday and Wyatt
Earp. A cast of experienced stage performers delivers a string of
country-flavored melodies with Úlan. Underrated leading man Steve
Blanchard is Doc, Patrick Ryan Sullivan is a stormy Wyatt, and the
sumptuous Judy McLane provides love interest as Kate. The score
certainly sounds promising on this well-produced recording -- a project
worth further investigation.
Texas, Lil Darlin' - Original Cast
You Can't Run Away From It - Soundtrack
Two almost forgotten musicals with lyrics by the one and only Johnny
Mercer make it to CD in this exceptional remastering. Broadway gave Texas,
Lil' Darlin' a so-so reception in 1949, but its charming score kept
folks foot-tappin' for the better part of a year. Lots of down home
atmosphere and easy humor make for a fun listen -- despite a lack of
familiar stage names in the cast. You Can't Run Away From It
boasts no less than June Allyson and (in a rare singing role) Jack
Lemmon in the 1956 musical version of the classic 1934 comedy It
Happened One Night. The new film could not live up to its source,
but the all too brief Mercer-Gene De Paul score is tuneful and amusing.
Lemmon's pleasant tenor will surprise some listeners -- pity he didn't
do more musicals.
West Side Story - Soundtrack
This soundtrack was first released on CD in 1992 -- not only has
remastering technology improved, but we get the luscious overture,
intermission and finale cuts heard during the film's original theatrical
release. Grand listening pleasure -- and the notes (hooray!) give full
overdue credit to the singers who dubbed the leads. If you've forgotten
how glorious West Side Story is on film, this recording will
reopen your ears and your heart to a screen classic.
You Oughta Be On Broadway
Remember the old Music Minus One series? That's the basic idea here, with
a stellar twist. You get orchestral tracks for a dozen Rodgers and
Hammerstein songs for ladies, designed for you to sing your heart out at
home, plus a matching set of tracks with professinal singers showing you
the way. The twist is that MMO used anonymous studio vocalists, while
this disc offers some Broadway veterans -- including Liz Callaway, Anne
Runolfsson, Sally Mayes and Penny Fuller. Due to the chronometric nature
of the accompaniment, these gifted gals are somewhat restricted.
Not designed as a listening experience, but aspiring singers may have
fun working their way through this repertory.
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