Livent Inc. and RCA Victor have announced they will join forces under an umbrella agreement which will grant RCA Victor/BMG the rights to record the original cast albums of Livent's upcoming productions for the next 4 years.
The first joint venture will be "Songs from Ragtime, The Musical,"a concept recording of Livent's upcoming world premiere musical, Ragtime, based on E.L. Doctorow's classic novel. Ragtime will premiere on Sunday, Dec. 8, 1996 at Toronto's Ford Center for the Performing Arts following a series of preview performances beginning Nov. 19, 1996. The projected release date for the recording is Nov. 1996.
This selection of songs from Ragtime marks the first time an original concept recording will have been produced in Canada, prior to its world premiere. RCA Victor will also record Ragtime's original Broadway cast recording when the musical opens in New York in late 1997.
Songs from Ragtime, The Musical will contain musical highlights from the production and feature members of the cast of the recent 6 week Toronto workshop production of the musical as well as the principal actors already cast for the Toronto World Premiere including Brian Stokes Mitchell as Coalhouse Walker Jr., Peter Friedman as Tateh; Marin Mazzie as Mother, Audra McDonald as Sarah, and Canadian Steven Sutcliffe as Mother's Younger Brother.
Ragtime features lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty. "Songs from Ragtime, The Musical" will be recorded in Toronto on July 15,16,17 at Manta Sound Studios, and will be produced by Jay David Saks, BMG Classics/RCA Victor vice president and executive producer, who previously produced Ahrens and Flaherty's Once On This Island and My Favorite Year. Jay David Saks is the recipient of six Grammy Awards. Three are in the category of Best Musical Cast Show for producing the recordings of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, and the revival of Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls. His other three Grammy awards are for classical music recordings, two of which were with James Levine conducting the Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Symphony, and with Leonard Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony. "The Songs from Ragtime, The Musical" recording cast of 41 performers will be accompanied by a 41-piece orchestra. The score of Ragtime embraces a wide variety of musical styles, reflecting the ethnicities and communities which play a key role in the story. Represented are such varied musical genres a rags, stomps and stride music, romantic ballads, Copland-esque symphonic melodies and klezmer music. Composer Stephen Flaherty noted, Some of the songs Lynn and I have written are musical extensions of the story telling and narrative technique, including an anthem raging against inequity and crying out for hope entitled 'He Wanted to Say.'
RCA Victor, Broadway's leading label was the recipient of a special Drama Desk Award in 1993 for its inspired documentation of theatre music past and present. Additionally, RCA Victor has won more Grammys in the Best Musical Show category than any other label.
Songs from Ragtime, The Musical represents the seventh album of a Livent production. In addition to Sunset Boulevard with Diahann Carroll and Rex Smith, The Phantom of the Opera starring Colm Wilkinson and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond, other recordings include the world premiere cast recording of the landmark Broadway musical Show Boat, the 1994 Grammy Award-nominated original cast recording of the Tony Award-winning Kiss of the Spider Woman staring Chita Rivera (RCA Victor) , as well as the new Broadway Cast Recording of Kiss of the Spider Woman starring Vanessa Williams and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
In addition to Ragtime, other original musical properties in development are an adaptation of the 1957 film noir drama, The Sweet Smell of Success, with a score by Cy Coleman, and I Love A Parade, to be directed by Harold Prince with a book by Alfred Uhry, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Driving Miss Daisy, and a score by composer Jason Robert Brown.
Restorations in development include Pal Joey, the beloved Rogers and Hart musical comedy that was originally staged on Broadway in 1940 and then released as a motion picture in 1957, starring Frank Sinatra. Livent's restoration will feature a new book by Terrence McNally and additional songs from the Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart catalogue not originally written for the musical.
Livent will also mount a new production of Leonard Bernstein's musical Candide, to be directed by Harold Prince. This production is based on three earlier versions of the musical directed by Mr. Prince, including his recent critically acclaimed production at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Candide, which will star Jim Dale, Andrea Martin, Harolyn Blackwell and Jason Danieley, will begin previews on Broadway April 9, 1997 at the Gershwin theatre, where it will play a limited engagement before commencing a North American Tour.