Two shows with lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Mark Andrew Lawrence | Toronto | 09/29/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"UP IN CENTRAL PARK was a 1945 operetta about the creation of New York's famed park. The score was by Sigmund Romberg (who had 4 big hits in the 1920s: BLOSSOM TIME, THE STUDENT PRINCE, THE DEDERT SONG and THE NEW MOON) and CENTRAL PARK would be his last Broadway hit. Decca recorded the cast album...sort of. They preserved 8 songs using the show's chorus and orchestra and two of the show's stars: Wilbur Evans and Betty Bruce. To sing the other roles they used Eileen Farrell (for voice) and Celeste Holm (for the Broadway belt.) The big hit from the show was the romantic duet "Close as Pages in a Book" but the gem is the comic number "The Fireman's Bride" sung here by Ms. Holm. Eileen Farrell shines in her two solos, "Carousel in the Park" and the lovely, obscure "April Snow." Wilbur Evans uses his big voice to effect decribing Central park as "The Big Back Yard of the City." Decca transferred seven of these eight selections to LP in 1950 but that album has been long out-of-print. The Cd features a delightful reproduction of the original 78 RPM album cover. Sound is good, crisp and clear. A plot synopsis is included as well as background notes on the production.
ARMS AND THE GIRL is a forgotten flop from 1950 with music by Morton Gould. The show starred Nanette Fabray and featured Pearl Bailey who provided the showstopping "There Must Be Somethin' better than love." Decca's 10-inch Lp covered only nine of the show's twelve numbers and while nothing major is missing you still don't have a sense that you are getting the whole show here. All in all it's pleasant but not a show that will ever be revived. There is a detailed synopsis to explain how the songs fit into the plot. Sound is fine - just a bit tinny showing the age of the recording.
Collector alert: Decca Broadway did this Cd orignally as a web-exclusive, limited to 1,000 copies. Less than half sold through the website so the remaining stock is being offered here and once these are gone there will be no more. You would be advised to pick up an extra copy or two for future resale, as the original 10" LP of ARMS was at one time going for $150-175!"
2 great Broadway shows on 1 CD
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 12/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This disc features 2 Broadway musicals, from 1945 and 1950 respectively. Both shows feature lyrics by Dorothy Fields, the celebrated librettist probably best-known for her contributions to SWEET CHARITY.
UP IN CENTRAL PARK has a score by Sigmund Romberg (THE GIRL IN PINK TIGHTS) which is quite lovely. It ran for 504 performances. Celeste Holm and Eileen Farrell are the main standouts in the cast which also features Wilbur Evans (BY THE BEAUTIFUL SEA, the London cast of SOUTH PACIFIC). Celeste Holm was brought in especially for the Decca cast album (at the time she was wowing Broadway as Evelina in BLOOMER GIRL).
ARMS AND THE GIRL is a delightful musical version of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS by Lawrence Langner and Armina Marshall, and features a stunner of a score by Morton Gould. The cast features a young Nanette Fabray as well as Georges Guetary and Pearl Bailey (HOUSE OF FLOWERS). The musical ran for a disappointing 134 performances. The cast album is simply delightful and Nanette Fabray fans will not be disappointed. The score features "A Cow, a Plough and a Frau" as well as Fabray's delicious "That's My Fella".
This limited-edition disc from Decca Broadway is a must-own for fans of vintage cast albums."
A Very Pleasant Surprise -- It's the Voices!
J. T Waldmann | Carmel, IN, home to the fabulous new Regional Perf | 04/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The following statement is going to reveal how old I really am: I remember hearing these "operettas" -- along with many others -- on The Railroad Hour when I was a mere child. They were charming then (Gordon MacRae always sang the male lead, with a variety of leading ladies), and they are just as charming now. Pity the scores of both shows are so truncated; would that we had modern recordings of the complete scores. The chance of that happening is about the same as my winning the lottery.
Byron Kolln and Mark Andrew Lawrence have provided background on the shows, so I won't go into detail about the plot or the history of the recordings. I agree with everything Byron and Mark said about the performances, and I'm especially pleased to have a recording featuring the "young" Nanette Fabray. Not only is she a supurb Broadway belter, she also shows off a very fine soprano on her duet with Georges Guetary ("You Kissed Me").
However, the biggest surprise to me was the male leads: Wilbur Evans (Central Park) and Georges Guetary (Arms & the Girl). Powerful, BROADWAY voices. Evans belongs in that category of Broadway Baritones with Alfred Drake, John Raitt, and Howard Keel. Big voices, amazing delivery, and no straining on the high notes. Not many leading roles were written for tenors, but Guetary really comes through, even though his accent sounds more French than German to my ears.
Let me repeat the advice of the two previous reviewers: pick up a copy or two of this CD while there are still some around. Yes, it may become a good investment, but it's also some really good music. I'd give the CD a "5" if it weren't for the abridged scores and the vintage sound. Thanks Bryon & Mark for convincing me to buy mine."