Rodgers & Hart's Spring Is Here Gets Orchestral Reading March 20 in Hope of Recording

News   Rodgers & Hart's Spring Is Here Gets Orchestral Reading March 20 in Hope of Recording PS Classics, the record label devoted to the heritage of American musicals, will test newly-found orchestrations to Rodgers & Hart's 1929 musical, Spring Is Here, at a March 20 orchestra play-through toward a possible recording of the score.

Playbill On-Line reported in spring 2002 that PS Classics would record the little-known score with a two-piano accompaniment because the orchestral charts were thought to be lost.

The recent discovery of the original charts, however, has the company now hoping to record and release a fully orchestrated version (with a singing cast, of course), which would be the world premiere recording of the musical that launched the songs "Yours Sincerely" and "With a Song in My Heart."

Tommy Krasker, who runs independent label PS Classics with Philip Chaffin, said an orchestra play-through (without singers) of the surviving charts will be held in Manhattan March 20 — the first day of spring.

"I can't give you a timetable yet for how soon we'd hope to go into a recording studio," Krasker said. "Nothing's going to happen till it's determined that the missing parts can be effectively restored. But the read-through is a key step, and an exciting one. We're all looking forward to hearing charts that presumably haven't been played through in almost 75 years."

Members of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, including executive director Ted Chapin, will be in attendance at the orchestra reading. The reading is done with the full cooperation of the R&H office. "I've always loved the Spring Is Here score, but because there were few surviving charts, we had decided to do a recording with two pianos, in the style of the two piano team of [Victor] Arden & [Phil] Ohman," PS Classics co-founder and producer Krasker told Playbill On-Line. "They'd played the original show, so it seemed fitting. But as often happens, once you announce something, additional materials seem to turn up.  In this case, music director Aaron Gandy followed up on a hunch that led him to the USC Warner Bros. Archive in Los Angeles.  Vitaphone had produced a film version of Spring Is Here a year after the Broadway run; it seems that they used the original Broadway charts for the film, and those later reverted to the Warner Bros. Archives.  I'd say about 80 percent of the original Broadway pit parts have turned up so far. What's especially wonderful is, that includes the original overture and the dance arrangements, which had not otherwise survived."

Shortly after the recording plan was announced last year, theatre historian and author Steven Suskin, who pens the show music column for Playbill On-Line, wrote Krasker and said he had a script of Spring Is Here, and wondered if it would come in handy.

"We had been working from two versions of the script, both of them early drafts, but Steve's was a final script, dated from the week of the original opening," Krasker said. "And this script had a whole set of lyrics to one number that we'd never seen printed or archived anywhere.  So again, things just seem to be falling into place."

The little-known musical ran 104 performances on Broadway in the spring of 1929, but three of its songs would have a future: "With a Song in My Heart," "Why Can't I?" and "Yours Sincerely." There are nearly a dozen obscure tunes in the show, including "There's Magic in the Cup," "Spring Is Here in Person," "We're Gonna Raise Hell," "You Never Say Yes," "Baby's Awake Now," "Oh, Look," "This Is Not Long Island," "Red-Hot Trumpet," "What a Girl!," "Rich Man! Poor Man!," and more.

Krasker pointed out that the score does not include the famous Rodgers & Hart song, "Spring Is Here"; it was written for 1938's I Married an Angel. Aaron Gandy will music-direct the project, as he did PS Classics' world premiere recording of Vincent Youmans' little known Through the Years.

The previous hope of PS Classics was to have the piano-and-voice version of Spring Is Here released by spring 2003.

"I've been eager to record another vintage musical since we released Through the Years in 2001," Krasker said, "but these kind of restorations need to be done carefully and you never want to rush the process."

He also said PS Classics is currently restoring another vintage musical, the title of which will be announced shortly.

Founded in 2000 by Krasker and Chaffin to focus on the heritage of Broadway and American popular song, PS Classics' catalog includes "Windflowers: The Songs of Jerome Moross," "Philip Chaffin: Where Do I Go From You?," "Only Heaven" by Ricky Ian Gordon (setting verse of Langston Hughes), Jessica Molaskey's "Pentimento," Darius de Haas' Billy Strayhorn tribute, "Day Dream: Variations on Strayhorn," "Here's to the Ladies" by actress singer Christine Andreas, and more, including the world premiere recording if Michael John LaChiusa's First Lady Suite and a new recording of Jason Robert Brown songs sung by Lauren Kennedy (both get released March 4). A new collection of Maury Yeston's pop, art and show songs, "The Maury Yeston Songbook," gets released April 8.

For more information about PS Classics, visit www.psclassics.com.