By 1953, RCA Victor already boasted a considerable number of Broadway classics in its catalogue - from original cast recordings of Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon to studio cast renditions of South Pacific and Finian's Rainbow. But the label was eager to build up its musical theatre repertoire and compete with the likes of Columbia and Decca. To that end, the Show Time series was launched - a collection of 16 EPs, each dedicated to four songs from a beloved musical or operetta. The EPs were also released as eight 10-inch LPs, with two shows per record (one on each side). Despite featuring top-tier artists (many of whom starred in the shows on Broadway and elsewhere) and musical directors, most of these recordings have languished in obscurity throughout the CD and digital era. Now, the U.K.'s Stage Door Records label has come to the rescue with a complete reissue of the Show Time series on CD.
Stage Door Records has announced the third and final volume of The Show Time Series EP Collection. The release this Friday, September 24, features 20 tracks from five musicals including some of the biggest titles in the series and one of the most obscure. The shows heard in this volume are:
- Anything Goes (Cole Porter);
- Kiss Me, Kate (Cole Porter);
- Porgy and Bess (George and Ira Gershwin/DuBose Heyward);
- Girl Crazy (George and Ira Gershwin); and
- The Little Shows (various songwriters).
1934's Anything Goes, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse remains one of the most produced musicals of the era. It saw a popular 1962 Off-Broadway revival as well as hit Broadway revivals in 1987 and 2011 starring Patti LuPone and Sutton Foster, respectively. The 1987 revival yielded a West End production with Elaine Paige as Reno Sweeney, while the second inspired the current London production with Sutton Foster reprising her 2011 turn as Reno. Show Time features two-time Tony Award winner Helen Gallagher (Sweet Charity, No, No, Nanette) belting three of Reno's showstoppers ("I Get a Kick Out of You," "Blow, Gabriel Blow," and the title song) and joining Jack Cassidy on the buoyant "You're the Top."
Porter's 1948 Shakespeare-inspired backstage comedy Kiss Me, Kate became his only musical to run for over 1,000 performances on Broadway and was the first recipient of the Best Musical Tony Award. Like Anything Goes, the musical has enjoyed various revivals both on Broadway and in the West End, with the most recent Broadway return in 2019. For Show Time, RCA enlisted George Britton as Fred Graham and Helena Bliss as Lilli Vanessi; the two veteran performers shared the stage in 1946's Victor Herbert adaptation Gypsy Lady. Lisa Kirk reprised her original Broadway role as Lois Lane, once again singing "Always True to You in My Fashion."
George and Ira Gershwin's 1930 musical comedy Girl Crazy doesn't see too many revivals today, but it introduced a number of standards including the four heard here: "Embraceable You," "I Got Rhythm," "But Not for Me," and "Bidin' My Time." The original production shot Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman (the latter making her stage debut) to superstardom; it also led to three film very loose film adaptations and a revised version entitled Crazy for You which ran for 1,622 performances beginning in 1992 - far more than the original musical's 272 performances. The Show Time EP stars Lisa Kirk ("But Not for Me"), Helen Gallagher ("I Got Rhythm"), Edie Adams ("Embraceable You"), and a male quartet ("Bidin' My Time").
The Gershwins created arguably their greatest triumph in 1935 with the musical/folk opera Porgy and Bess, co-written with DuBose Heyward, co-author of the play Porgy and the original novel of the same name on which both the play and musical were based. Porgy and Bess broke new ground with its remarkable cast of African-Americans performing Gershwin's ambitious music blending pop, jazz, and opera. Though the original Broadway production ran just 124 performances, many more productions cropped up in the 1930s, 1940s (including a 1942 Broadway revival), and 1950s. Controversies dogged the show and its 1959 film adaptation for their depiction of the African-American community, but Porgy and Bess continued to be produced, and a 1976 Houston Grand Opera production (which restored the complete score after years of cuts) returned it to Broadway. It's since been back to New York and London in various revisions in both theatres and opera houses. Just four songs from the overflowingly abundant score are heard on the Show Time EP, all majestically performed by veterans of the 1953 Broadway revival: Cab Calloway's "It Ain't Necessarily So" (Calloway later sang for Sammy Davis, Jr. on the movie's soundtrack album when Davis was contractually unavailable); Helen Thigpen's "Summertime," Leslie Scott's "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'," and Thigpen and Scott's "Bess, You Is My Woman Now."
The final EP is drawn from The Little Shows, a series of small-scale, intimate revues that played on Broadway for three editions between 1929 and 1931. Sheila Bond sings Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz's "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" and Carol Bruce tackles Dietz and Ralph Rainger's "Moanin' Low" and Paul James and Kay Swift's "Can't We Be Friends" from the same show. "When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba," performed on the Show Time EP by Hiram Sherman, hailed from The Third Little Show in 1931.
The Show Time Series EP Collection Volume Three is limited to 500 units only and is made available via current U.K. public domain laws. This release features an illustrated booklet with detailed liner notes by George Dansker as well as a sessionography of recording dates. The release date is on Friday, September 24, but pre-orders placed directly through Stage Door are already shipping. See below for pre-order links and the full track listing for this essential addition to any musical theatre library.
The Little Shows (EPA 485)
- Can't We Be Friends - Carol Bruce
- Moanin' Low - Carol Bruce
- I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan - Sheila Bond
- When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba - Hiram Sherman
Girl Crazy (EPA 486)
- Embraceable You - Edith Adams
- But Not for Me - Lisa Kirk
- I Got Rhythm - Helen Gallagher
- Bidin' My Time - Male Quartet
Porgy and Bess (EPA 487)
- It Ain't Necessarily So - Cab Calloway
- Summertime - Helen Thigpen
- I Got Plenty o' Nuttin' - Leslie Scott
- Bess, You Is My Woman Now - Leslie Scott and Helen Thigpen
Kiss Me, Kate (EPA 488)
- So in Love - George Britton
- Always True to You in My Fashion - Lisa Kirk
- Wunderbar - George Britton and Helena Bliss
- I Hate Men - Helena Bliss
Anything Goes (EPA 489)
- Anything Goes - Helen Gallagher
- I Get a Kick Out of You - Helen Gallagher
- You're the Top - Helen Gallagher and Jack Cassidy
- Blow, Gabriel, Blow - Helen Gallagher