Bette Davis in a musical...yes, you heard right
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 10/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Bette Davis in a musical? In 1952, when her film career started on yet another downward spiral and she was unceremoniously labelled as "box office poison", the legendary Ms Davis decided to do the unthinkable, and made her Broadway musical debut in TWO'S COMPANY, a fluffy little revue that would have certainly folded a lot quicker if a mega-watt star like Davis was not in the starring role.
TWO'S COMPANY ran on the box office power of Davis, and the moment she became ill and started missing performances, the closing notices were posted (the show limped along for 90 performances). Nevertheless, this curious jewel of a show was recorded, and now gets it's CD premiere thanks to British boutique label Sepia.
Apparently, Davis was so embarrased by her performance, that she attempted to buy every single copy of the original LP in order to destroy them. One can just imagine Davis (in full Margo Channing mode) swaggering into a record store and slamming a pile of TWO'S COMPANY albums onto the sales counter ("don't bother to wrap `em!").
While Davis was never a singer, she croaks out her songs quite well, and what she lacks in musicality she compensates with comedy and sheer brio.
Performing the more demanding material is Ellen Hanley, known to musical fans for her role as Thea in "Fiorello!"; as well as Adrianna in the 1963 Off-Broadway revival of "The Boys from Syracuse", and replacing Polly Bergen in "First Impressions" (the Jane Austen/'Pride & Prejudice' musical of 1959).
Sepia's remaster of the TWO'S COMPANY album (taken from original 78's) is quite crisp and clean, with some slight hiss and sonic wobble in certain areas (like towards the end of "Haunted Hot Spot"), although we are lucky to have this title on disc in the first place.
Known for their copious bonus tracks, Sepia do not disappoint, and the TWO'S COMPANY disc is filled out with extensive supplementaries (Nancy Walker singing "I Can't Get Started" and Jack Smith with "I'm Gonna Ring the Bell Tonight"); and a whole "Vernon Duke plays Vernon Duke" section.
Now that TWO'S COMPANY has been released on compact disc, we can finally hear what all the fuss was about."
A Long Awaited "Gem"
Michael Tomas | Bucks County, USA | 07/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My LP of this show was totally worn out, so I'm absolutely delighted to have this on such a great sounding CD. Davis is right up there with other musical luminaries such as Hepburn in COCO and Bacall in WOMAN OF THE YEAR and APPLAUSE. All three were non-singers who acted, and their recordings are really just a joy to have to offset soprani like Cook, Chenowith, and Lukker.
This really is a must have recording for any true musical comedy lover who wants the unusual and historical. Davis's "Turn Me Loose on Broadway" is wonderful from her "Mistah conductah, iff You Pleeees" to her slightly off tempo "hey" in the dance break. Davis did try to sing several times through her career. Frank Loesser's "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" has been on a few collections, and there was that failed musical version of THE CORN IS GREEN entitled MISS MOFFAT that closed in Philadelphia. Betty Davis wasn't a good singer, but she tried!
The supporting cast is excellent, and I think it's just a joy to hear an old-school musical by one of the forgotten greats, Vernon Duke. That's why I'm really pleased to have the Duke bonus tracks on the CD as well. It's a great value with Davis, Duke, and Lawrence Welk and his orchestra as well. The album was coveted for years, and it's just wonderful to have it in better sound than it ever was."