Jeannie Carson shines in rare musical
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 04/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1958 was a busy year for composer/lyricist Richard Adler. As well as preparing the musical version of O'Henry's GIFT OF THE MAGI as a TV showcase for his wife Sally Ann Howes, Adler was also writing a musical version of Louisa May Alcott's landmark American classic LITTLE WOMEN as a vehicle for another British musical theatre dynamo, Jeannie Carson, who'd recently established herself in America with her own top-rating TV sitcom. Both musicals would go to air in the last quarter of 1958 to strong reviews.
Jeannie Carson is instantly suited to the role of tomboy Jo March, and gets two great numbers in which to display her unique, firebrand talents ("How Do You Write a Book?" and "The Four of Us"). Zina Bethune is Amy, and Florence Henderson plays Meg. The role of Marmee is filled by the elegant opera star Rise Stevens. Future daytime soap favourite Bill Hayes is also among the cast.
The score as a whole is very charming indeed, with an intimate chamber-style feel. As with GIFT OF THE MAGI, I don't know if Adler intended for this musical to enjoy an afterlife on the stage, but it wouldn't have needed much additional work.
Flare has filled the rest of the disc with additional recordings featuring the LITTLE WOMEN stars, including three pop covers from Jeannie Carson, Florence Henderson's songs from the cast albums of FANNY and OKLAHOMA!, and some operetta favourites with Rise Stevens. [FLARE SPEC-1042]"