Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|W.S. Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan, Groucho Marx|
The Mikado (1959 Television Cast Recording)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
D.D. | Jacksonville, FL United States | 12/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This version of "The Mikado" is one of the best ever recorded, with popular stars in most major roles, including Groucho Marx as Ko-Ko. It is also one of the most popularly accessible, with its length reduced to less than 60 minutes and virtually (if not actually) all of the dialogue from the adaptation included. Expertly truncated by Gilbert & Sullivan icon Martyn Green, this studio recording of the 1960 Bell Telephone Hour special includes everything necessary to be well-introduced to the full operetta, though I would have preferred to see Katisha's solo omitted to allow complete versions of the numbers included; there are some jarring edits within some of the songs. However, the libretto had to not only be reduced to a single hour but also to three fairly equal parts, so that may have been one of Green's motivations in cutting it as he did. (The oddest shortening is of the Act 1 Finale, which omits Katisha altogether. This may be the reason for including Katisha's solo later in the play, but it also may have been a favorite of Green's and a necessary spotlight for the formidable Helen Traubel.)
The sound is exceptional, as this is not a transcription from the live performance but a studio recording that preserves all the spontaneity of the TV show while offering first-rate engineering. The only quibble I've had with the recording is the heavy mic-ing of Groucho's daughter Melinda on "Three Little Maids," which emphasizes her untrained voice at the expense of the other two singers.
Aside from Groucho's highly enjoyable Ko-Ko (with a surprisingly moving "Titwillow"), Dennis King's Mikado is of particular note, and very original in its depiction of the emperor as a happy technocrat rather than the haughty and foreboding presence typical of most productions.
This release itself is marred only by the notes, which contain some of Will Friedwald's not-unusual sloppy research, such as claiming Green stopped performing after his elevator accident--in fact, he carried on bravely with a prosthetic leg--and implying that this was Barbara Meister's only significant credit; among other accomplishments, she was brought by Richard Rodgers to be one of the original Maria Von Trapps on Broadway and in the national touring company of "The Sound of Music.""
Why isn't this available in DVD????
J. Parfrey | Denver, CO | 10/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I saw a kinescope of this some years ago, so I know that a video production of this exists. Real G&S fans will buy this for Groucho Marx, not to have an authoritative version. So only hearing Groucho without SEEING him is really half an experience. I confess to seeing the album and one-click ordering it figuring it was a DVD only to find out I was getting just a CD. How disappointing. But I'll keep looking for that kinescope to surface."
A "MIKADO" FOR THE MASSES . . . AND WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?
J. T Waldmann | Carmel, IN, home to the fabulous new Regional Perf | 01/27/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I must admit that I had doubts about Groucho Marx performing the role of The Lord High Executioner in Gilbert & Sullivan's most popular work, but after several listenings, I find his brand of hi-jinx (". . . equal parts Rufus J. Firefly, Quincy Adams Wagstaff, Otis B. Driftwood, and Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding"), quite appropriate for this "simple tale of love and intrigue." Perhaps he drags the tempo a bit in "I've Got a Little List," but everywhere else, he's a delight, especially playing opposite Helen Traubel's Katisha (Margaret Dumont, anyone?). Just give a listen to their "There Is Beauty (in the Bellow of the Blast)."
Martyn Green, one of the better Ko-Ko's of modern times, not only was one of the producers of this 1960 Bell Telephone Hour Production (NBC-TV), but he also took on the formidable task of adapting a two-hour stage production into a 50-minute television special. And he's done quite a fine job of it. Most of the familiar song have been retained, albeit somewhat truncated at times, and he has supplied some rather witty dialogue to keep the plot moving at a lively pace. Donald Voorhees even adapted the instrumentation of his Bell Telephone Orchestra to fit Sir Arthur Sullivan's original orchestrations.
Even though Groucho got top billing, the rest of the cast is as good, and in some cases, even better in their respective roles. Leading off is Robert Rounseville ("Candide," anyone?) as Nanki-Poo, Barbara Meister as Yum-Yum, Stanley Holloway as Pooh-Bah (Lord High Everything Else), Dennis King as The Mikado, the aforementioned Helen Traubel, Melinda Marx (Groucho's daughter) and Sharon Randall as the Peep-Bo Sisters, and the incredible Norman Luboff choir as the Citizens of Japan. "Taped expressly for Columbia Records and produced by their president, Goddard Lieberson," (with pre-digital demonstration-quality sonics, I might add) this is an album to savor, to listen to repeatedly. Every word is intelligible; the style is "right on."
Kudos to DRG for bringing THE MIKADO and other "never before on CD" recordings back from the dead. Highly Recommended.
(Quoted passages from the liner notes by Martyn Green and Will Friedwald)"