The composer-lyricists were contemporaries who had much in common, despite their separate heritage (Porter was American, Coward the Brit, of course). The new album, called "Noël and Cole," is arranged and music-directed by David Loud, and is loosely based on an earlier version that Loud premiered in November 2011 as part of the Broadway Close Up series at Merkin Concert Hall in Manhattan. Loud has been rewriting and refining the work since that time.
The album will feature six Broadway and PS Classics veterans: Sara Jean Ford (Finian's Rainbow, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, A Little Night Music, The Phantom of the Opera and PS Classics' recent Sweet Little Devil), Elizabeth Stanley (of the Encores! Merrily We Roll Along concert, Million Dollar Quartet, Cry-Baby), Barbara Walsh (Falsettos, Big, Company), Philip Chaffin (PS Classics co-founder, whose first solo disc, "Where Do I Go From You?," launched the label), Euan Morton (Sondheim on Sondheim, Taboo) and Matthew Scott (Sondheim on Sondheim and PS Classics' upcoming Jerome Kern album, The Land Where the Good Songs Go).
Recording begins the week of Nov. 5. Album producer and PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker anticipates a Jan. 29, 2013, street date.
Loud — the respected Broadway music director, arranger and conductor — told Playbill.com, "I was interested in looking at the similarities and contrasts in the two men's work. They lived and wrote at roughly the same time, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and both appeared to revel in the sophisticated glow of high society while producing heartbreaking songs that have stood the test of time. I found that by alternating the songs of the two writers, a conversation between the two started to appear. So over the course of the recording, we hear — through song — the two men's ruminations on alcohol, sex, home life, the theatre, and, of course, love and loss."
Krasker told Playbill.com, "Both of David's projects, the Kern revue Land Where the Good Songs Go, which we just recorded, and now Noël and Cole, are the kind of thing we want to be doing more of here: wonderful, personal arrangements and interpretations of the classics." Broadway and Off-Broadway cast recording have earned PS Classics a lot of attention, but, Krasker reflected, "solo discs and songbooks have been part of our label's mission from the very start — and they're part of what, I think, really define us as a label."
Porter's Broadway musicals include Kiss Me, Kate; Let's Face It!; Anything Goes; Fifty Million Frenchmen; Silk Stockings; Du Barry Was a Lady; Leave It To Me!; Jubilee; Gay Divorce; The New Yorkers; Red, Hot and Blue; Paris and more.
Coward's revues, operettas, plays and musicals include Sail Away; Private Lives; Bitter Sweet; Tonight at 8:30; This Year of Grace; Present Laughter; The Girl Who Came to Supper; Hay Fever; Design for Living and more.
In related news, the PS Classics website released track listings and soundclips (on Nov. 5) for its two upcoming releases, the Jerome Kern revue The Land Where the Good Songs Go (read Playbill's earlier story about PS Classics' commitment to Kern here), and Anthony Rapp's one-man show Without You (read the earlier Playbill story here).
Krasker said that due to recent power outages, the label is pushing back the release dates for both albums by two weeks. Shipping will begin at the label's website on Nov. 26, the same day the label commences its annual holiday sale; both titles will be in stores Dec. 11. The label's website notes that 25 percent of the profits from both albums — as well as all albums sold during the holiday sale — will be donated to the Red Cross, to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and a six-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by such artists as Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Steven Pasquale, Liz Callaway and Christine Andreas; and restorations of long-lost musicals, including Sweet Bye and Bye, Strike Up the Band 1930 and Kitty's Kisses. Recent releases include the 2012 Encores! concert cast recording of Merrily We Roll Along, the new Broadway cast album of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and its acclaimed studio cast recording of George Gershwin's earliest surviving score, Sweet Little Devil. Upcoming releases include Rebecca Luker's solo disc of Jerome Kern songs, due in early 2013.