Foster, Clark, O'Hara, Mazzie and More Sing Styne's Hollywood Songs in Honor of His Centenary

News   Foster, Clark, O'Hara, Mazzie and More Sing Styne's Hollywood Songs in Honor of His Centenary PS Classics Inc., the nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of the American songbook, goes into the studio Jan. 23 to complete recording for "Jule Styne in Hollywood," an album to be released in May 2006.

Artists expected in the session include Broadway stars Leslie Uggams, Victoria Clark, Jason Danieley, Debbie Gravitte, Sutton Foster, Kelli O'Hara and Marin Mazzie. Other artists appearing on the recording include Audra McDonald, Brent Barrett, Philip Chaffin, Norm Lewis and Rebecca Luker. Aaron Gandy conducts the orchestra.

The album is being produced with the support and cooperation of Broadway and Hollywood composer Styne's widow, Margaret Styne, and Joseph Weiss, general manager of Jule Styne Enterprises.

Tommy Krasker, who serves on the board of PS Classics Inc., told Playbill.com, "We had a board meeting to discuss doing something for the Jule Styne Centenary, which officially began on New Year's Eve, and we kept coming back to the fact that one of the most glorious aspects of Styne's work was the writing he did in Hollywood from around 1939 to 1949. The hits were amazing — 'It's Been a Long Long Time,' 'Time After Time,' 'I'll Walk Alone' — many of them written with lyricist Sammy Cahn. He ultimately received 10 Academy Award nominations for Best Song. We knew those songs, but we wondered about the songs we didn't know, so we got in touch with Margaret and Joseph, who allowed us to look at the lesser-known songs. And they proved equally winning. We'll be doing a real grab-bag of Jule Styne Hollywood songs — written with a variety of lyricists, mixing the known and the unknown — using not only original film charts, but also some other period arrangements, including some amazing dance band charts."

In addition to penning songs for movies, Jule Styne is the Tony Award-winning stage composer who worked with many lyricists — Bob Merrill, Sammy Cahn, Yip Harburg, Leo Robin, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim — over a long career. Friends said he was filled with ideas and plans for shows up to his death in 1994. He won the Tony Award in the category of Composer and Lyricist for the 1968 score to Hallelujah, Baby! (with Comden and Green), but his better-known work includes Funny Girl, Gypsy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Peter Pan (for which he, Comden and Green wrote several numbers) and Bells Are Ringing. Many consider Gypsy (with lyricist Stephen Sondheim) to be his masterpiece.

The prolific London-born Styne (whose family moved to Chicago when he was a kid) also penned scores for Darling of the Day, Hazel Flagg, Do Re Mi, Fade Out — Fade In, High Button Shoes, Sugar, Subways Are for Sleeping, Two on the Aisle, Prettybelle, The Red Shoes (his last show, in 1993) and more. Also on the PS Classics Inc. label are the world premiere recording of Kay Swift's 1930 Broadway musical, Fine and Dandy; two volumes of its acclaimed series "Sondheim Sings," drawn from demos held in the composer-lyricist's private archives; and the recently released "Hugh Sings Martin," the latest edition in the Library of Congress' Songwriter Series.

Projects of PS Classics, a 501(c)(3) organization, are supported by corporate, government and private money, including tax-deductible donations from passionate musical theatre fans. Its website is www.psclassics.org.