Masterworks Broadway has recently announced its next three reissue projects between now and November, all due on CD-R and DD.
The first was released this past Friday, October 14: the original cast album to 1957’s Simply Heavenly. The book and lyrics were written by noted poet and novelist Langston Hughes with the music by jazz bandleader David Martin. It starred Melvin Stewart and Claudia McNeil (who would later star in A Raisin In The Sun). The show, based upon Hughes’ novel Simple Takes A Wife and Other Simple Stories, premiered Off-Broadway before transferring to the Playhouse Theatre where it ran for 62 performances. It has never been revived on Broadway. The cast album has been on CD previously in a U.K. public domain release by Sepia in 2008 whereas this is the first authorized digital release.
On November 4, the reissue of the original cast album to A Christmas Carol will be released. Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella has been adapted countless times across just about every medium imaginable. This version premiered in 1994 and ran yearly through 2003 at the Paramount Theater in Madison Square Garden. Directed by Mike Ockrent with choreography from future The Producers director Susan Stroman, Carol featured music by Academy and Tony Award winner Alan Menken with lyrics by Tony winner Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Once on This Island). The original Scrooge (as heard on the cast album) was portrayed by Broadway veteran Walter Charles. Other performers to inhabit the Scrooge role during the show’s run included Tim Curry, Tony Randall, Roddy McDowall (in his final role), Frank Langella, Tony Roberts, Jim Dale, and Roger Daltrey. Kelsey Grammer starred in the 2004 television version, which also received a soundtrack album.
A week later, on November 11, Masterworks Broadway is reissuing the original cast recording of 1963’s Spoon River Anthology. The show was a not a full musical but rather a play with music based upon the poems of Edgar Lee Masters. Charles Aidman conceived, starred, directed and wrote the lyrics for the show. The music was by Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn, who also performed as a singer in the show. Spoon River opened in September 1963 at the Booth Theater and eventually transferred to the Belasco Theater where it closed in January 1964 after 111 total performances. This reissue will mark the album’s first appearance in the digital era.
As with past Broadway Masterworks releases of the last several years, these are MOD CD-Rs. The albums will also be available as digital downloads and on streaming services. If you’d like to explore these shows a little more, we’ve got Masterworks Broadway’s full press release some more details and the full tracklistings below. Pre-order links for the two November releases are not yet available.
NEW YORK – Masterworks Broadway announces its Autumn 2016 releases including three classic albums from the archives – Simply Heavenly – 1957 Original Broadway Cast Recording (October 14), A Christmas Carol – 1995 Original Cast Recording (November 4) and Spoon River Anthology – 1963 Original Broadway Cast Recording (November 11). Upon release, each title will be accompanied by new album pages and photos on MasterworksBroadway.com.
Starring Claudia McNeil and Melvin Stewart, Simply Heavenly was written by Harlem renaissance poet Langston Hughes based on his novel “Simple Takes a Wife and Other Simple Stories.” With music by David Martin, Simply Heavenly was originally produced for the Off-Broadway 85th Street Playhouse. The show transferred to Broadway’s Playhouse Theatre on August 20th 1957 when fire violations forced the closure of the original venue. Hughes continually looked to the musical stage for success following the groundbreaking 1947 original production of Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice’s Street Scene for which he wrote lyrics. Set in Harlem of the ’50s, Simply Heavenly follows Jess Simple as he tries to raise enough money for a divorce so he can marry his new love and eloquently captures the color, humor and poetry of that time and place. McNeil had made her Broadway debut as a replacement cast member in the groundbreaking original Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. She would later originate the role of Lena Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun both on Broadway and in the feature film. Simply Heavenly – 1957 Original Broadway Cast Recording will be officially released for the first time on CD-R in the U.S. October 14, with streaming and downloads available the same day.
Based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic novella, A Christmas Carol was presented annually at New York City’s Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from 1994 through 2003. Over its nine years, A Christmas Carol featured a slew of notable actors as “Scrooge” including F. Murray Abraham, Tim Curry, Tony Randall, Roddy McDowall (in his final role), Frank Langella, Tony Roberts, Jim Dale, and Roger Daltrey. A Christmas Carol featured a creative team of Broadway’s heavy hitters: Alan Menken, Music; Lynn Ahrens, Book and Lyrics; Mike Ockrent, Book and Direction and Susan Stroman, Choreography. A Christmas Carol – 1995 Original Cast Recording will be released on November 4, with streaming and downloads available the same day.
Charles Aidman adapted and starred in Spoon River Anthology, a play with music based on Edgar Lee Masters’ renowned collection of short free-form poems. With music by Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn and Hal Lynch, Spoon River Anthology weaves the epitaphs of the residents of fictional small town Spoon River into a chilling history of turn-of-the century America. Also starring Betty Garrett, Joyce Van Patten and Robert Elston, the show opened at the Booth Theatre on September 29, 1963 and ran for 111 performances. The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Spoon River Anthology makes its CD-R debut November 11, with streaming and downloads available the same day.
Original Broadway Cast Recording, Simply Heavenly (Columbia OL 5240, 1957 – reissued Masterworks Broadway, 2016) (Amazon U.S.)
- Prelude and Simply Heavenly
- Let Me Take You for a Ride
- Broken Strings
- Flying Saucer Monologue
- Did You Ever Hear the Blues?
- I’m Gonna Be John Henry
- When I’m in a Quiet Mood
- Look for the Morning Star
- Gatekeeper of My Castle
- Let’s Ball Awhile
- Beat It Out, Mon
- The Men in My Life
- Good Old Girl
- Mississippi Monologue and Finale
Original Cast Recording, A Christmas Carol (Columbia 67048, 1995 – reissued Masterworks Broadway, 2016)
- The Years Are Passing By
- Jolly, Rich and Fat
- Nothing to Do with Me
- Link by Link
- The Lights of Long Ago
- Mr. Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball
- A Place Called Home
- Money Montage
- Abundance and Charity
- Christmas Together
- Dancing on Your Grave
- Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today
- Christmas Day
- God Bless Us, Everyone
Original Broadway Cast Recording, Spoon River Anthology (Columbia OS 2410, 1963 – reissued Masterworks Broadway, 2016)
- “He’s Gone Away” / The Hill
- Tom Beatty
- “Spoon River”
- Benjamin Painter / Mrs. Benjamin Painter
- Margaret Fuller Slack
- Knowlt Hoheimer / Lydia Puckett
- Fiddler Jones
- Ollie McGee / Fletcher McGee
- Lucius Atherton
- “Times Are Getting Hard” / Eugene Carman
- “The Water Is Wide” / William and Emily
- George Gray
- Harry Williams
- “Paper of Pins”
- Roscoe Purkapile / Mrs. Purkapile
- Shack Dye / “Freedom” / Hannah Armstrong / Faith Matheny
- Mrs. Charles Bliss
- Pauline Barrett / The Village Atheist / Mabel Osborne / Franklin Jones
- “In the Night” / Dippold the Optician / “In the Night” (reprise)
- Alexander Throckmorton
- Amanda Barker / Willard Fluke / Lois Spears
- Abel Melveney
- Hod Putt
- Indignation Jones / Minerva Jones / Doctor Meyers / Mrs. Meyers / Willie Metcalf / “I Am, I Am” / Barney Hainsfeather
- Lucinda Matlock / “Spoon River”
- Petit the Poet
- Anne Rutledge / “Spoon River” / Last Poem