Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 03/20/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Despite originating two of the great female roles in the golden age of Broadway musical theatre, the story of Doretta Morrow is now sadly more or less a footnote of that never-to-be-repeated era. Morrow's career as a Broadway leading lady only lasted a few short years, but within that time she starred in some of the greatest musicals, played opposite the likes of Alfred Drake and Yul Brynner, and earned legions of admirers.
Morrow's first big break came in the original cast of "Where's Charley?" with Ray Bolger in 1948 (sadly it went unrecorded); Morrow played Kitty and sang the show's hit song "My Darling, My Darling". In 1951 she originated the role of doomed concubine Tuptim in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I", leaving the show's long run early so she could play the poet's daughter Marsinah in another exotic show, "Kismet". Following the London transfer of "Kismet", Morrow was in great demand both on stage and screen. She reunited with her "Kismet" co-star Alfred Drake in the original TV musical "The Adventures of Marco Polo" in 1956; toured in the national company of "Fanny", and starred as the Princess in a London stage re-working of Cole Porter's "Aladdin" musical. Morrow later quietly retired to the UK, where she died in 1968.
This disc spotlight's Morrow's two great Broadway performances in "The King and I" and "Kismet", plus rare tracks from her appearances on studio recordings. In particular I was thrilled by Morrow's 1953 "Carousel" pieces (recorded around the same time that "The King and I" opened), which also feature the original 'Billy Bigelow', John Raitt. Operetta gets a look-in, with Morrow's fetching "Mlle. Modiste", "Desert Song" and "Naughty Marietta". There are also selections from Morrow's failed attempt to break into Hollywood, starring opposite Mario Lanza in "Because You're Mine" in 1952.
Morrow's supple, warm lyric soprano is one of the most breathtaking voices you'll ever have the pleasure of listening to. Take for instance "Kismet'"'s demanding quartet "And This is My Beloved", where Morrow's voice takes on the quality of a cello as it glides through the piece. And noone will ever match the heartbreaking simplicity of Morrow's Tuptim as she sings "We Kiss in a Shadow". Thrill to Morrow as "Mlle. Modiste" with a capricious "Kiss Me Again", and smile as Morrow and Drake are reunited in the fascinating "Marco Polo" score. Recommended.
[Flare Records SPEC-1036]"