The sixth set of releases from the "Columbia Broadway Masterworks" series includes the original cast recordings of My Fair Lady, Barnum, Li'l Abner, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris and a studio cast recording of Oklahoma!.
A joint effort on behalf of Sony Classical and Legacy Recordings, the series has released 28 expanded edition CDs to date, and the upcoming batch of recordings will be available in stores on May 28. Each title has been digitally remastered, and all packaging contains new liner notes and rare archival photographs. Additionally, bonus tracks — when available — and interviews with the shows' creators have been included.
My Fair Lady, which features a score by Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music), boasts a cast that includes Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Stanley Holloway. In addition to the classic tunes "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "I Could Have Danced All Night," "On the Street Where You Live" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," the CD also includes a post-recording conversation with Goddard Lieberson, Harrison, Andrews, Lerner and Franz Allers as well as a conversation with Lieberson, Lerner and Loewe. Dick Scanlan, the co-lyricist-book writer for this season's Thoroughly Modern Millie, has written new liner notes.
Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart's Barnum, which nabbed a Tony Award for its star, Jim Dale, opened at the St. James Theatre on April 30, 1980, with a cast that also included Glenn Close, Marianne Tatum, Terri White, Leonard John Crofoot and William C. Witter. Featuring a book by Mark Bramble, the musical ran for 854 performances and also spawned a London company led by Michael Crawford. The release on CD of the Broadway cast features such Cy Coleman tunes as "Thank God I'm Old," "The Colors of My Life," "Come Follow the Band" and "Join the Circus." There are four bonus tracks as well: Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart singing "Come Follow the Band" and "Join the Circus" and Coleman alone performing "At Least I Tried" and "So Little Time," which were both cut from the show.
Based on the characters created by Al Capp, Li'l Abner opened on Broadway in 1956 with a book by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank and a score by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Gene de Paul (music). Its cast included Edith Adams, Peter Palmer, Howard St. John, Charlotte Rae and Stubby Kaye and ran for 693 performances at the St. James Theatre. The new release includes four bonus tracks: The Li'l Abner Orchestra plays the show's overture (a mono mix), The Li'l Abner chorus sings "There's Room Enough For Us," which was added to the show after the New York premiere; and both "The Way To a Man's Heart" (Percy Faith and Orchestra) and "It's a Nuisance Having You Around" (Rosemary Clooney), which were both cut prior to the Broadway debut.
Celebrating the music of Jacques Brel, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris opened at Off-Broadway's Village Gate in 1968 with a four-person company: Elly Stone, Mort Shuman, Shawn Elliott and Alice Whitfield. The musical revue introduced Brel's passionate songs to a generation of theatregoers, and in the disc's liner notes Richard Jay Alexander explains, "Even though Jacques Brel was an Off-Broadway hit, it is part of Broadway legend, and that pleases everyone who was originally involved." Among the disc's 23 tracks are such classic Brel tunes as "Alone," "Bachelor's Dance," "Old Folks," "Marieke," "You're Not Alone," "If We Only Have Love" and the previously unreleased "The Middle Class," which is rendered by Shuman and Elliott. The release of the studio cast recording of Oklahoma! marks the first time this recording has been available on CD. The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which is currently enjoying a hit revival at the Gershwin Theatre, feature such classic tunes as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "People Will Say We're in Love," "I Cain't Say No" and the title tune. The studio recording casts John Raitt as Curly (Raitt completed a national tour of the show), Florence Henderson as Laurey, Phyllis Newman as Ado Annie and Ara Berberian as Jud Fry. Originally produced for records by Thomas Z. Shepard, this Oklahoma! was recorded in New York City in March 1964.
Since its inception in March 1998, the Columbia Broadway Masterworks series, which received a 1999 Drama Desk Special Recognition Award — has released expanded editions of these musical theatre titles: Cabaret; Kiss Me, Kate; On the Town; My Fair Lady; Camelot; The Sound of Music; Oh, Kay!; Girl Crazy; South Pacific; Annie; West Side Story; Gypsy; Cinderella; No, No, Nanette; Flower Drum Song; Mame; Sweet Charity; Show Boat; A Chorus Line; Company; A Little Night Music; Best of Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!; Finian's Rainbow; Kismet; Pajama Game; Bye, Bye, Birdie; Bells Are Ringing and Fiddler on the Roof.