Sony's Masterworks Broadway label has announced the next three titles it will rescue from the vaults of Columbia and RCA Victor, and the albums have one person in common: Richard Rodgers. Still one of the most-recorded composers of all time (Rodgers' "My Funny Valentine," co-written by Lorenz Hart, was the third most-covered song of 2010 according to ASCAP, no small feat considering the song was written in 1937!), Rodgers' collaborations with both Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II are represented in this next wave of releases, as well as one cast album of a musical Rodgers produced. As usual, all three titles will be available as discs-on-demand from Arkiv Music and digital downloads from the usual suspects.
First up on April 26 is the 1953 Studio Cast of On Your Toes, featuring Tony Award winner Jack Cassidy and cabaret icon Portia Nelson, remastered from the original mono tapes. The 1964 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Cast Recording of Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow follows on May 17; Rodgers produced for Music Theater of Lincoln Center, and soprano Patrice Munsel starred. Then, on June 14, the 1955 Studio Cast of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel receives the remastered treatment, also starring Munsel along with the Metropolitan Opera's Robert Merrill and the young Florence Henderson.
That's not all. Beginning today, April 5, Masterworks will release in the digital format a number of diverse cast recordings previously available on CD, all derived from the original master tapes. Christine, First Impressions, Juno and Oh! Captain! all arrive today. May 17 sees the release of Irving Berlin's Mr. President, The Happiest Girl in the World, the 1964 New York World’s Fair Cast Recording of To Broadway, With Love, and the 1957 Studio Recording of Brigadoon, starring Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones. On June 28, the label delivers The Girl in Pink Tights, Kean, Maggie Flynn (also starring the married couple of Cassidy and Jones) and Runaways.
Hit the jump to raise the curtain on complete track listings with discographical information of the three new-to-CD titles, plus the stories behind the shows!
The 1936 musical comedy On Your Toes arrived on the Great White Way before the advent of the Original Cast Recording, depriving modern listeners of the chance to hear a pre-Wizard of Oz Ray Bolger during his rise to fame. A number of its jazz-inflected songs became standards through other, contemporary recordings: "There's a Small Hotel," "Glad to Be Unhappy," and of course, the title song. On Your Toes was a landmark for its incorporation of dance into the production, and Rodgers composed the stunning ballet "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" for its climax. (Rock enthusiasts reading this surely know the ballet from late guitarist Mick Ronson's electrifying performances.) The now-legendary George Balanchine was the choreographer. Conducted by the esteemed Lehman Engel, Columbia's 1953 recording offered Jack Cassidy and Portia Nelson as the two young lovers at the heart of the story, and presented the first-ever full recording of "Slaughter." Columbia's On Your Toes arrived during a Rodgers and Hart renaissance, thanks to a successful 1952 revival of the team’s 1940 Pal Joey (itself spurred on by Columbia’s 1950 studio cast recording). On Your Toes was revived on Broadway in 1954, one year after the LP’s release, but it didn’t duplicate Joey’s success and the production closed after just 64 performances. The musical was seen again in 1983 for an impressive 505 performances. Masterworks' reissue arrives April 26.
The reissue of the 1964 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Recording of The Merry Widow features American soprano and Metropolitan Opera star Patrice Munsel singing the title role, while the supporting cast includes Bob Wright, Joan Weldon and Frank Poretta, plus Oscar nominee Mischa Auer (My Man Godfrey) and Tony nominee Sig Arno (Time Remembered). The operetta by Franz Lehar debuted in Vienna in 1905 (where else?) and made its Broadway debut two years later at the New Amsterdam Theatre, today home to Disney's Mary Poppins. The Merry Widow remained a staple of the operetta repertoire, receiving regular New York revivals through the 1940s. Produced by Richard Rodgers, whose musical theatre innovations ironically led to operettas falling out of favor, The Merry Widow was conducted by Franz Allers (My Fair Lady, Camelot) and will be available May 17.
The 1955 Studio Cast of Carousel on RCA Victor starred Metropolitan Opera soloists Patrice Munsel and Robert Merrill as Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, respectively, plus Florence Henderson, George S. Irving, Gloria Lane and Herbert Banke. Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 musical based on Ferenc Molnar's Liliom did receive an Original Broadway Cast Recording on the pioneering Decca label, but the RCA studio version was the most complete version yet at the time of its recording. Lehman Engel conducted, and Rodgers himself wrote of the album, "It is my hope that you will enjoy the splendid artists who have made this album as much as I enjoy them." Masterworks will reissue the full-length LP on June 14; the album was also originally issued in the Extended Play 45 format with edits and bizarrely sped-up tracks!
Both Carousel and On Your Toes have previously been reissued on CD by British public domain labels in varying quality; as always, Masterworks' releases are derived from the original master tapes. Track listings, discographical information and pre-order links for the three releases follow! All titles will be available from digital service providers as downloads and from Arkiv Music as CD-Rs.
Studio Cast Recording, On Your Toes (Columbia ML-4645, 1953 – reissued Masterworks/Arkiv, 2011)
- It’s Got to Be Love
- Two a Day for Keith
- There’s a Small Hotel
- The Heart is Quicker Than the Eye
- Quiet Night
- Questions and Answers
- On Your Toes
- Too Good for the Average Man
- Glad to Be Unhappy
- Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
Music Theatre of Lincoln Center Cast Recording, The Merry Widow (RCA Victor LSO-1094, 1964)
- When in France/A Respectable Wife
- Who Knows the Way to My Heart?
- Riding on a Carousel
- Finale (Act I)
- Finale (Act 2)
- Girls at Maxim’s
- I Love You So (The Merry Widow Waltz)
Studio Cast Recording, Carousel (RCA Victor LPM-1048, 1955 – reissued Masterworks/Arkiv, 2011)
- Prologue (The Carousel Waltz)
- You’re a Queer One, Julie Jordan
- Mister Snow
- If I Loved You
- June is Bustin’ Out All Over
- When the Children are Asleep
- Blow High, Blow Low
- A Real Nice Clambake
- Geraniums in the Winder
- What’s the Use of Wond’rin’?
- You’ll Never Walk Alone
- The Highest Judge of All