A cast album of the March 2000 concert revival of Hugh Martin's Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'! by the shoestring budget company called Musicals Tonight!, is in stores on the Original Cast label.
Unlike the out-of-print original cast album of the 1948 Broadway musical that starred Nancy Walker, the new piano and-voice recording has all of the show's songs, plus cut material and work revised by 85-year-old Martin in 2000.
Composer-lyricist Martin, frail but still writing at 85, contributed new lyrics to the New York City concert presentation March 7-19 at the 14th Street Y. He encouraged the interpolation of songs cut from the original production.
Musicals Tonight! is one of several Manhattan companies that revive classic musicals in concert form. Thomas Mills directed Look, Ma. Musical and vocal arrangements and score reconstruction were by C. Colby Sachs, who produced the disc with Bruce Yeko, Tom Mills and Mark Hartman (who plays piano on disc).
The tuner about the goings-on in a traveling ballet company was originally staged by George Abbott and choreographed by Jerome Robbins (the character of Eddie is based on him). Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee wrote the book. Martin's score includes "I'm a Guy Who's Gotta Dance," "The First Girl in the Second Row" and "I'm Tired of Texas." The musical, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, memorably revived the song "I'm a Guy Who's Gotta Dance" in its opening number. Musicals Tonight! artistic director Mel Miller told Playbill On- Line he simply wrote to Hugh Martin and asked if he could revive the show. The answer was yes, and moreso.
The original Decca cast recording of Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'! preserved only eight songs from the score, but the Musicals Tonight! revival represented the entire show, and then some: Martin wrote new lyrics to "The New Look" (not on the original 1948 cast album), plus offered two songs written for the Broadway production but either not used or not recorded: "Horrible, Horrible Love" and "Wonderful, Wonderful Love." Two other tunes not on the original album — "Jazz" and "The Two of Us" — were heard in concert and are on the new disc.
Martin's favorite unpublished song, "All My Life," from the unproduced musical, Maggie & Jiggs, will also be interpolated into the score.
The musical farce includes a plotline about a "danseuse wannabe" who is an ex-vaudevillian and a brewery heiress underwriting a cross-country ballet tour.
The concert cast included Jennifer Allen, Alli Bivins, Ryan Duncan, Sally Mae Dunn, John Flynn, Amy Goldberger, Marc Kessler, Rob Lorey, Jennifer Miller, Elise Molinelli, Gair Morris, Edward Prostak, Noah Racey, Richard Ruiz. Goldberger, Kessler and Morris are not on the disc. Voices on the recording include Julian Brightman, Stephen Carter-Hicks, Rita Rehn and Kelli Rabke.
Musicals Tonight! producer Mel Miller and Martin provide liner notes.
Songs in the new recording include "I'm a Guy Who's Gotta Dance," "I'm the First Girl in the Second Row," "I'm Not So Bright," "I'm Tired of Texas," "Tiny Room," "Little Boy Blues," "Wonderful, Wonderful Love"/"Horrible, Horrible Love," "Jazz," "The New Look," "All My Life," "If You'll Be Mine," "Shauny O'Shea" and "The Two of Us."
The nonprofit Musicals Tonight! operates under an Actors' Equity approved showcase contract. Artistic director Miller told Playbill On-Line he is a one-man band with a passion for musical theatre and plays, although little background in producing. Armed with a degree in chemical engineering, Miller was a marketing consultant for years before plunging into the risky world of Off-Off-Broadway producing. He is the sole funder of each production, which, per Equity, has a budget limit of $15,000.
The mission of his troupe (for which he makes all the decisions, with the help of a lawyer, an accountant and a few friends he trusts) is to revive "neglected musicals," which, some have suggested to him, is euphemistic for "flops."
"'Neglected' is the eye of the beholder," said Miller, laughing. He admits his tastes may not be mainstream. Since starting in 1998 (presenting at the Lamb's, American Place Theatre and now the 14th Street Y), he's revived titles that are exactly chart-burners: Let It Ride (1961), So Long, 174th Street (1976), By the Beautiful Sea (1954), Dearest Enemy (1925) and King of Hearts (1978), among others.
But his followers — a mostly gay and elderly crowd, he said — devour the scores. "I'm not getting the Rent crowd, I'm not getting the Stomp crowd or the De La Guarda," he admitted.
Manhattan's other concert musical revival series are Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert, at City Center, and York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti.
— By Kenneth Jones