Begin the Beguine! PS Classics Inc. Will Restore and Record Porter's Jubilee and Donaldson & Kahn's Whoopee

News   Begin the Beguine! PS Classics Inc. Will Restore and Record Porter's Jubilee and Donaldson & Kahn's Whoopee PS Classics Inc., the not-for-profit company devoted to the restoration of musical theatre scores and recording lost classics, has announced Cole Porter's Jubilee and Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn's Whoopee as its next projects.

The company, which recently restored the score to Kay Swift's Fine and Dandy and released it on CD, unveiled a new website revealing more of its mission and upcoming plans.

The restoration plans for Whoopee (1928), by composer Walter Donaldson and lyricist Gus Kahn, and Cole Porter's Jubilee (1935) were revealed at www.PSClassics.org.

Tommy Krasker, co-founder of PS Classics Inc. told Playbill On-Line: "Whoopee is something that [conductor and PS Classics Inc. board member] Aaron Gandy brought to us at our last meeting, and we fell in love with it.  We contacted the composer's daughter, Ellen Donaldson, and she's already been extremely helpful moving our plans forward [by] making a wealth of original performance materials available to us.  With Jubilee, we have a line on our website that encourages suggestions for projects, and far and away, Jubilee has been the show most requested.  And there's no denying it's an amazing score.  So the public speaks, we listen."

The company's previously announced plans to record Rodgers and Hart's Spring Is Here are ongoing, according to Krasker, "but because that's a riotously complicated restoration, we're delighted to have two new projects that might come to fruition a bit sooner."

Krasker said that "part of the fun" of both Whoopee and Jubilee is that there are a couple hit songs that everyone knows: "Makin' Whoopee" and "Love Me or Leave Me" from the former, "Begin the Beguine" and "Just One of Those Things" from the latter. "But the little-known songs are equally remarkable," Krasker said. "Whoopee has a real theatricality to it that I honestly didn't associate with Donaldson -- I knew him more as a king of Tin Pan Alley. And of course, Jubilee, which Porter wrote with Moss Hart, is well-documented as being one of his most deeply personal -- and ambitious -- scores."

In terms of schedule, Krasker said, "It's hard to give a timetable. These sort of restorations take months, sometimes years, and it's also a reality that we're dependent upon outside funding, and the fundraising takes time. It's not like the profits from one CD fund the next. In three months, Fine and Dandy has sold just over 1200 units, which obviously doesn't begin to cover the next project."

PS Classics Inc. board member Sean Patrick Flahaven told Playbill On-Line: "We all know how passionate and vocal people are about cast albums. Admittedly, these vintage cast recordings have a smaller following than big Broadway shows, but the simple fact is -- and I don't want to sound crass -- if half the folks who feel passionately about cast albums actually bought Fine and Dandy, we'd be turning out two restorations a year."

As a 501(c)(3) organization, PS Classics seeks corporate, government and private money, including tax-deductible donations from passionate musical theatre fans.

Although online donations to date have been slim, Krasker is hopeful that with the attention and praise Fine and Dandy has reaped, things will pick up.

"So far we've gotten lots of mail, wonderful enthusiastic and supportive notes to our website, but only a handful of donations," Krasker said. "I'm not saying that people are obligated to contribute -- times are tough, and I think I'd be hard-pressed to make the case that people's disposable income is best spent on the preservation of vintage musicals.  But we get e-mails all the time from people wanting to know when our next CD is coming out, some of them almost impatient, and I want to say, hey, we're working on it!  If everyone who bought and enjoyed Fine and Dandy just pledged $20 towards the next project, we'd be back in the studio next month!"

Krasker added, "Our grant applications to corporations and foundations that support this sort of work are numerous and ongoing."

*

  The company's first CD, the premiere recording of the 1930 Kay Swift-Paul James musical Fine and Dandy was released in May, with a 28-piece orchestra and a cast headed by Carolee Carmello, Gavin Creel, Mario Cantone, and Mark Linn-Baker.

PS Classics Inc. is a not-for-profit organization devoted to restoring and recording forgotten musicals, as opposed to the commercial record label PS Classics LLC (which released albums of Nine, Fiddler on the Roof, Assassins, A Year With Frog and Toad and a number of discs by vocalists, as well as "The Maury Yeston Songbook").