Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Arthur Schwartz, Dorothy Fields|
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1951 Original Broadway Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
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Incredible score just waiting for rediscovery
Tommy Peter | Baltimore, MD United States | 01/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amazingly under-rated when it premeiered in 1951 (Admittenly against such competition as Guys and Dolls and THe King and I that same season) and forgotten today, "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" has one of the finest scores of the 1950s, and possibly even of all time. The overture medley of Arthur Schwartz's music alone must be one of the most beautiful ever written for the theatre, and the lyrics by Dorothy Fields capture character and the period setting of the show (turn-of-the-20th century Brooklyn tenemants) while being hilarious and deeply moving in their own right. The other reviewers have mentioned the highlights ("Make the Man Love Me," "I'm Like A New Broom," "Love Is the Reason," "He Had Refinement"), and they are all correct. The catchy and delightful "Mine 'Til Monday" and "Look WHo's Dancing," and the lovely period song "If You Haven't Got a Sweetheart" and "I'll Buy You a Star" also stand out. I want to talk about how two songs, "That's How It Goes" and "Growing Pains," capture the humorous yet truly bittersweet and oddly haunting quality of the famous Betty Smith novel on which the show is based. "That's How IT Goes" is a "local color" song for the chorus of immigrants who live in the tenements that describes the various uses of clothes, most of them boring and seemingly unneccessary, yet part of the never-ending cycle of life. "You wear 'em, you soil 'em, you stoke 'em, you boil 'em, you dry 'em, you iron 'em, laugh in 'em, cry in 'em, live in 'em, die in 'em, that's how it goes... Why? The Lord knows, but that's how it goes...." And with that the song ends. It's just something you live with; life goes on in spite of everything. "Growing Pains" is sung by Johnny Nolan, the charming but weak alcholic n'er-do-well unable to provide for his family, to his daughter Francie as she is coming down with "a bad case of growing up." There are the charming "warnings" of what to expect (Mom dropping the hem of your skirt, etc.), but there is also the underlying sadness in the idea that Francie will soon lose her childhood innocence. "We all must get to know things we don't want to know," but in the end "you'll be awfully glad you had these growing pains." A potentially cloying moment is handled with restraint and knowing intelligence. It may even jerk a tear or two out of you. As for this cast, they certainly do the score justice. Shirley Booth is the standout as the loveable, childlike, even sexy, yet wise Aunt Cissy, bringing charm and depth to the character and possessing one of the strangest yet most adorable voices you're ever likely to hear. However, a flaw of the production in general, aside, apparently, from a weak book, seems to be that her star presence distorted the focus of the show, originally centered on Johnny and his wife Katie, which probably explains why the people playing those roles, Johnny Johnston and Marcia van Dyke, possess fine voices and a good sense of emotion but register more as excellent vocalists than as memorable characters in a show the way Booth does. I guess you just can't steal a show from Shirley Booth, even if your characters are the real focus of the story. A pity, but perhaps an unavoidable one. Still, they and the rest of the cast do wonderful justice to this incredible score, brimming with melody and emotion. Kudoes also to Goddard Liberson for doing a great job producing the recording; the sound is great and we even get six full minutes of ballet music, unusual for the early days of LP records when this was made. Obviously, Lieberson loved this score almost as much as you probably will. The time is ripe for a revival, or at the very least a concert staging by Encores! or some similar organization. Broadway, are you listening? Come on and rediscover one of your lost treasures!"
One of the best Broadway show scores of the 1950s
Tommy Peter | 06/27/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album contains what is probably one of the best Broadway scores of the 1950s. Written very much in the mold of a Rodgers and Hammerstein show, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN was not a success, due to the episodic nature of the Betty Smith book and the fact that the show's writers (which included Smith herself) could not fashion a workable libretto for the songs. But the score is another matter. From the atmospheric overture to the finale the score abounds in outstanding choruses, comedy numbers and ballads. Shirley Booth was the star of the show and she gets two outstanding comedy numbers in LOVE IS THE REASON and HE HAD REFINEMENT. The score also contains such beautiful numbers as MAKE THE MAN LOVE ME and I'LL BUY YOU A STAR plus the rousing ACT TWO opening number, THAT'S HOW IT GOES, a song depicting the usefulness of clothes. The orchestrations by Joe Glover and Robert Russell Bennett evoke a bygone turn-of-the-century Brooklyn that will you give reason to return to this album many times over.The CD is handsomely furnished with an informative booklet which gives a background of the show. For those who do not know this score, you are in for something really extraordinary. I highly recommend this album. And wait until you hear Shirely Booth sing!"
The wonderful Shirley Booth as Cissy
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 07/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN features a fabulous early musical appearance by Shirley Booth (BY THE BEAUTIFUL SEA, JUNO). Based on the stories by Betty Smith, Miss Booth played the comic role of Cissy, with Marcia van Dyke as Katie, the main dramatic role in the piece. It played for a reasonable 267 performances, though it had the potential to have been a mega-hit. However the show was unfortunate in that it opened in the same season as THE KING AND I, GUYS AND DOLLS and CALL ME MADAM. How could it hope to compare or compete?
The score by Arthur Schwartz and Dorothy Fields (who would go on to write the score for Shirley Booth's BY THE BEAUTIFUL SEA) includes several delights with standouts "Look Who's Dancing?", "I'm Like a New Broom", "I'll Buy You a Star" and "He Had Refinement", the latter a tour-de-force for Miss Booth. The musical also featured Johnny Johnston and Nathaniel Frey (DAMN YANKEES, GOLDILOCKS). Outstanding score, worthy of rediscovery."