OK...SO SHE COULDN'T SING
Richard D. Nirenberg | Reno, Nevada United States | 03/11/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In late 1960, a friend and I attended one of the first performances of WILDCAT, a new musical at the Alvin Theater --now the Neil Simon Theater. We wanted to see the Broadway starring debut of Lucille Ball, at that time TV's outstanding comedienne. And we wanted the answer to the question of the ages: could she sing? The answer: No. But she could stay somewhere near the melody and she was kinda funny, so that left the musical stuff up to the rest of the cast and the musicians in the pit. The first Broadway score by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh had some neat plot-moving songs and one smash hit for Lucy, "Hey, Look Me Over". RCA brought out the LP and, later, the inevitable CD. One of the best parts of the recording is --believe it-- the overture. Orchestrated and arranged by Robert Ginzler and Sid Ramin (who had delivered one of the smash theater arrangements of all time with the charts for Styne and Sondheim's GYPSY)and conducted by John Morris, who, the following year, was to give ALL AMERICAN a zip and pizzazz far superior to its book, WILDCAT's CD reincarnation should please theater fans who want to hear the choreography in the orchestrations (the whole shebang is directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd)and the characters' personalities in the songs (Keith Andes and Paula Stewart stand out). Excellent mens' chorus, right up there in quality with "Guys and Dolls" and "Paint Your Wagon". The original LP and the transition to CD are very good, helped immensly by the taping location in what was then RCA's Broadway-show recording studio, Webster Hall, a second-floor, former ballroom in lower Manhattan. Controllable reverb and a neat sharpness balanced on the treble side add to the excitement of the brassy score. Enjoy!"
Mark Andrew Lawrence | Toronto | 02/10/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"WILDCAT is back. Not the show, but the original Broadway cast recording.
This is one of those "fabulous flops" that have enough good elements to make you almost wish - I said almost - for a second chance. I am sure the show is still staged sometimes by community theatre groups who could have a lot of fun with it. But it was built on Lucile Ball's star power and without her it is less interesting.
Ball tends to "shout" the comedy songs (although her singing is not as bad as Lucy Ricardo's - that was just exaggerated for gag purposes) and she does seem stymied by ballads like "That's what I want for Jamie." It's not a bad singing voice, just an untrained voice.
There are strong songs in the Cy Coleman-Carolyn Leigh score, beyond the obvious hit: "Hey Look Me Over."
"One Day we Dance" and "You've come home" are superior ballads that deserve to be better known. But two chorus numbers "Tall Hope" and "Corduroy Road" hint at Coleman's musical gifts that are only beginning to develop.
RCA Victor recorded the cast album in Webster hall two days after the show opened. The sound, as is typical of RCA cast albums of that period has a harshness that digital restoration cannot eliminate. The record was in stores in January 1961 and remained in print until 1970 when it was discontinued. RCA's CD edition was released in 1991, and it also had a healthy 10-year run in the active catalogue. Now DRG is giving it another shot, mainly for those who missed it the first time, and for the growing base of fans of Lucille Ball (and Lucy.)
All-singing, all-dancing Lucy classic
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 04/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Physical exhaustion and severe illness forced Lucille Ball to prematurely end her acclaimed Broadway musical debut in WILDCAT, however the sparkling cast album remains for us to savour.
Tailored around the talents of it's ebullient, red-headed star, WILDCAT opened on Broadway, during a crippling blizzard, on December 16th 1960 at the Alvin Theatre following a very promising tryout in Philadelphia where critics praised Ball's exciting musical performance as Wildcat Jackson. Unfortunately for Ball, still suffering from a nasty leg injury she'd sustained during the filming of THE FACTS OF LIFE, and not quite prepared for the rigours of doing eight performances a week on Broadway, illness and exhaustion soon set in. Lucy--and the show--bravely limped along for 171 performances.
Lucy glows on the cast album however, where she joyfully crows what would become the show's hit song "Hey, Look Me Over!". Other delights to be had include "Tippy Tippy Toes", "Corduroy Road", "Tall Hope", and "What Takes My Fancy". The wonderful supporting cast boasted Keith Andres as Wildcat's love interest, and Paula Stewart as her lame sister Janie.
Thankyou DRG, for bringing back the bouncy WILDCAT! [DRG-19119]"