Comparative Cast CD Reviews II

by John Kenrick

(Copyright 1998-2003)

This section compares various recorded versions of popular scores. Just because I own almost every version doesn't mean you have to.


As a shameless Rodgers & Hammerstein fan, I think Carousel is one of their best. With so many versions available, it is especially frustrating to report that no single recording has everything in place.

Final Carousel verdict: Between them, the 1994 Broadway Revival Cast and Command Studio LP give you the best of everything – but the MCA studio cast is also outstanding. If Rodgers and Hammerstein are your thing, you can never have too many good recordings of Carousel.

Fiddler on the Roof

The tale of Tevye and his family has delighted audiences the world over for more than four decades, so it is no surprise that Bock and Harnick's glorious score has been recorded in all sots of versions. But buy cautiously – playing with Fiddler's, a fan can get burned.

The final Fiddler verdict: The Original Broadway Cast is the easy winner.


Stephen Sondheim's cult classic has enjoyed several star-studded recordings. Some are clearly superior, but "faced with these Lorelei's, what man can moralize?"

The final Follies verdict: The Papermill Cast is the strongest and most complete recording, but the Original Broadway and 1985 Studio versions are too good to miss. And the Sondheim Tribute cast is electrifying . . . Nope. Sorry. There simply is no such thing as too many Follies. If this score is a favorite, get every version you can.

Guys and Dolls

Even this seemingly foolproof Frank Loesser score has suffered from its share of fools, so not all recordings of Guys and Dolls are created equal. Some are divine, and some could make "a person develop a cold."

Final Guys and Dolls verdict: The 1994 Broadway revival cast is the clear favorite, but the Original 1950 cast has some performances too delicious to miss – if you really like the show, get both.


Few shows have received as many worthwhile recordings as Gypsy, but that doesn't mean there aren't some clunkers to stay away from:

The final Gypsy verdict: Get the Original Broadway Cast to savor Merman's legendary performance, then immerse yourself in the 2008 Revival recording for everything else.

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