The Babylove Miracle Show is back in town. Kritzerland has announced the reissue of the 1971 original cast recording of composer Claibe Richardson and lyricist-librettist Kenward Elmslie’s The Grass Harp, the cult favorite musical that played seven performances at the Martin Beck Theatre (today, the home of Kinky Boots).
Based on the novella and subsequent play by Truman Capote, the musical told the tale of spinster sisters Dolly (Barbara Cook) and Verena (Ruth Ford). Verena becomes captivated by Dr. Morris Ritz (Max Showalter), and the pair decides to bottle and market Dolly’s famous “dropsy cure.” Dolly won’t give it up so easily, however. Soon, Dolly, her housekeeper Catherine (Carol Brice) and cousin Collin (Russ Thacker) leave Verena for a new home – in a treehouse. Karen Morrow played Babylove, a traveling evangelist who enters the musical about halfway through and quickly steals it as she belts the epic, 12+-minute “Babylove Miracle Show.” (“Mama” Cass Elliot had been attached to the show when it was still in development and known as Yellow Drum.)
Richardson and Elmslie supplied The Grass Harp with a truly stunning score capturing its larger-than-life characters, indebted to the style of Capote and orchestrated with a rich flavor and contemporary flair by Jonathan Tunick (following his groundbreaking work on Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s Promises, Promises, and Stephen Sondheim’s Company) and the venerable Robert Russell Bennett. Despite the beautiful and eclectic music ranging from ballad beauties to showstopping production numbers, the quirky Grass Harp proved too rarefied for commercial Broadway circa 1971. However, the cast album inspired numerous future productions and even a CBS Camera Three truncated television adaptation.
Producer Bruce Kimmel last reissued The Grass Harp, originally released on Ben Bagley’s Painted Smiles label, in 1999 on Varese Sarabande. This newly-remastered Kritzerland edition retains the three bonus tracks appended to that disc, performed by Elaine Stritch, George Rose, and Max Showalter. All three songs were written but cut from The Grass Harp, and originally released on Painted Smiles’ Kenward Elmslie Visited LP. New liner notes are also included. This reissue is limited to 500 units and is due by the third week of May, though pre-orders placed directly at Kritzerland usually arrive three to five weeks early. You can check out sound samples and place your orders below!
The Grass Harp: Original Cast Recording (Painted Smiles PS 1354, 1971 – reissued Kritzerland, 2018)
- Dropsy Cure Weather – Barbara Cook, Carol Brice & Russ Thacker
- Floozies – Russ Thacker
- Big Rich – Max Showalter
- If There’s Love Enough – Carol Brice
- Yellow Drum – Barbara Cook, Carol Brice & Russ Thacker
- Marry with Me – Carol Brice
- Chain of Love – Barbara Cook
- This One Day – Russ Thacker
- The Babylove Miracle Show – Karen Morrow, Barbara Cook, Russ Thacker, Carol Brice & Company
- Indian Blues – Carol Brice
- What Do I Do Now? – Ruth Ford
- Reach Out – Karen Morrow, Barbara Cook, Russ Thacker, Carol Brice & Company
- Finale (Yellow Drum) – Company
- The One and Only Person in the World – Max Showalter (Bonus Track)
- I Trust the Wrong People – Elaine Stritch (Bonus Track)
- Brazil – George Rose (Bonus Track)
Tracks 15-17 from Kenward Elmslie Visited, Painted Smiles LP PS 1339, 1982