If any single album could be said to have given birth to the concept of the original Broadway cast recording as we know it, that album would be Decca Records’ 1943 preservation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! with its original stars Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts, and Celeste Holm. Decca’s Jack Kapp envisioned a release that would allow listeners across the nation to take Oklahoma! to their own homes, a true souvenir album that captured the energy and excitement of the smash production and featured its original cast members and orchestrations as opposed to pop stars singing pop arrangements. There had been other recordings with original cast members before – most notably including Musicraft’s 1938 presentation of The Cradle Will Rock – but none with the impact of Oklahoma! on Decca Records.
Now, 76 years later, the historic label – now a part of Universal’s Verve Label Group – is coming full circle and relaunching with a new Oklahoma! as well as the latest musical from recent Tony Award winner David Yazbek, the stage adaptation of Tootsie. Both albums are set for release late spring/early summer, with exact dates to be announced.
Oklahoma!, produced for records by Dean Sharenow and Daniel Kluger, preserves the controversial, critically-acclaimed production currently electrifying audiences night after night at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre. In keeping with the spirit of director Daniel Fish’s raw and visceral production, Kluger’s reimagined arrangements have pared down Richard Rodgers’ sweeping melodies to their essence, recasting the familiar songs with a down-home, country-and-western flavor as performed by an onstage bluegrass band and cast including Damon Daunno as Curly, Rebecca Naomi Jones as Laurey, and Mary Testa as Aunt Eller. This Oklahoma! promises to sound like no other cast recording of the venerable show.
It’s joined on Decca Broadway’s initial lineup by Tootsie, currently previewing at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre in anticipation of an April 23 opening. Featuring a book by Robert Horn and music and lyrics by David Yazbek (The Band’s Visit, The Full Monty), the musical based on the 1982 film comedy stars Santino Fontana (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Frozen) and Lilli Cooper in the roles immortalized on film by Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, respectively. The brash musical comedy directed by Scott Ellis features a bright and memorable score filled with Yazbek’s trademark irreverence, humor, and heart.
Both Oklahoma! and Tootsie will arrive on Decca Broadway in late spring/early summer. Watch this space for more information, and don’t forget to visit Decca Broadway on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.