"I am in a real minority. Not only am I one of the few people to have seen Rex, I saw it twice - during its pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The performances I saw were a week apart and a lot of changes were made in between. So it was a slightly different show that eventually opened on Broadway. And while it is certainly not Richard Rodgers' finest moment, I am still glad to have this record of a...shall we say...interesting theatrical experience.The idea of doing a musical about Henry VIII was always a strange one. But it almost worked. The casting of Nicol Williamson was a giant step in the right direction - a commanding stage presence with a surprisingly good singing voice. Penny Fuller in the dual role of Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth was another good choice - a leading lady in the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein mould. But the script was way too serious and the lyrics, though occasionally good, lacked the wit and polish and insight that Hammerstein could have given them. As for the music...well, some songs seemed like Rodgers was composing on auto-pilot. But others - Away From You and As Once I Loved You in particular - can proudly stand with the best love songs from Oklahoma or South Pacific. Others such as Elizabeth and No Song More Pleasing demonstrate that Rodgers had not lost his ear for deceptively memorable melodies. And it is, after all, Rodgers' music that will attract the interest in this CD of what was, to be honest, a Broadway flop. Your enjoyment of the CD will depend upon your interest and your generosity. It is highly unlikely there will ever be a revival of Rex. So fans of Richard Rodgers and Broadway should be glad that this souvenir exists."
Chronicle of a King
Cowboy Buddha | 10/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This show (on Broadway in 1976) is chock full of great moments, a "swan song" as it were for Richard Rodgers who has written some beautiful (but alas) seldom heard melodies. Some of the highlights include "No Song More Pleasing," "As Once I Loved You," "Away From You" and "So Much You Loved Me." The show dramatizes events in the life of Henry the Eighth,including his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, who could not give him a son and Ann Boleyn who is beheaded after giving birth to a daughter and sustaining several miscarriages. The king's desperate need to continue the family line is the thrust of the show. Penny Fuller plays Ann Boleyn in the first act and her daughter, Elizabeth, in the second. As she has shown in previous recordings (such as Applause), she is vibrant, moving and powerful. Glenn Close plays Mary, Catherine's daughter."
A better score than its reputation might suggest
Alan | New York, NY | 11/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In his penultimate show, the supposedly dried-up Richard Rodgers produced some very good music, especially in the ballads. "No Song More Pleasing," "As Once I Loved You," "Elizabeth," and "So Much You Loved Me" all have much to recommend them, and "Away From You" ranks with Rodgers's greatest ballads. And "The Field of Cloth and Gold" is, as Ethan Mordden says in his book on Rodgers and Hammerstein, hair-raising when the English and French courts sing in two different keys, giving the lie to the words they sing describing their mutual harmony.Despite these fine songs, no one is likely to say that this is one of Rodgers's greatest scores as a whole. The creators seem not to have realized until too late in the writing process that a man who beheads his wives is not exactly a sympathetic leading character. A dramatic approach that might have acknowledged this and made a positive out of a negative was not found, judging from the evidence on this recording. Among other problems, the numbers in which Henry justifies his actions never quite take flight, as if Rodgers couldn't quite buy it himself.Still, even the lesser numbers have a fair degree of the Rodgers craft. Some of Sheldon Harnick's lyrics are below his usual standard, though.The cast does well, with Nicol Williamson revealing a singing voice that, while not beautiful, has character, strength and reliability. It's too bad that he never did a another musical.This CD is certainly not a must-have for everyone. But if you're a Rodgers fan, there is more than enough good music here to make it worth having."
It includes a stunning Broadway ballad!
Julio Lopez | Santiago, Chile | 07/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The subject of the musical is very appealing and well known. The characters are dramatically powerful and the historical events seem to have been well told in the stage production. So, it's difficult to explain the failure of this musical in the theatre. As far as the CD is concerned, I found it interesting all the way through. If you buy it, be sure you'll be getting one of the most beautiful love songs ever written for a Broadway show: "Away from You", a ballad that the great Sarah Brightman has recently included in one of her Broadway albums. Here, you have the original version which, actually, is well worth the price of the whole record. Just for that song, this CD deserves 4 stars."
Paul A. Gerard | Australia | 06/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think it was probably the subject of the play that killed this one. In England of course they are quite fond of books films plays etc. about the Big Man. Sympathy for him is rare among women, catholics and Americans, however - in spite of the fact that he loved women himself and was always a devout catholic - in his personal convictions, at least, a loyal son of the church. Americans should theoretically be more sympathetic too - Henry's compulsive womanising was very reminiscent of President Kennedy (or should that be the other way around), while other aspects of his foreign and domestic policy are a kind of amalgam of Reagan and Bush Jnr.
All this has next to nothing to do with this CD - it is required listening for anyone with even a passing interest in musical theatre.
Richard Rodgers is one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century. While this is not his masterpiece by any means, several songs from this show at least demonstrate that his genius never left him.
And Henry VIII is a very interesting person, even if you are a woman, a catholic, or an American (or even all three). You don't have to like someone like Henry to find him fascinating."