Harold Prince's unique 1973 Brooklyn Academy of Music/Broadway revival of Candide, the 1976 revival of My Fair Lady with Ian Richardson, Christine Andreas and George Rose, and the Music Theater of Lincoln Center revivals of The King and I (1964) with Risë Stevens and Darren McGavin and South Pacific (1967) with Florence Henderson and Giorgio Tozzi have been digitally remastered for the re-release.
All four recordings have been repackaged with original cover art, and each booklet is illustrated with rarely seen session photos from the Sony BMG Archives.
Masterworks Broadway is a new imprint of Sony BMG Masterworks, "showcasing the label's commitment to the great music of Broadway past and present," according to the record giant. "Masterworks Broadway will explore the riches of its combined catalogue of show recordings, originally made for RCA/BMG Classics and Columbia/CBS Masterworks/Sony Classical, in addition to recordings of new musical productions, such as the current hit The Wedding Singer, the upcoming revival of A Chorus Line and a deluxe 10th-anniversary edition of Chicago."
The two Rodgers and Hammerstein titles, The King and I and South Pacific , were cast and supervised by Richard Rodgers himself. In 1964, the composer was asked to program a series for Lincoln Center's New York State Theatre, staging important Broadway musicals in limited summer runs.
Original cast recordings of both R&H shows "predated stereo recording, so these are the only stereo theatrical recordings that directly reflect Rodgers' famously specific ideas about how the scores should sound," according to Sony BMG. South Pacific's album was produced by Edward Kleban, who would later become the lyricist of A Chorus Line. Operatic bass Giorgio Tozzi played Emile de Becque. Tozzi "ghosted" the songs for actor Rossano Brazzi on the soundtrack of the 1958 film version. Henderson starred in Broadway's Fanny and is widely known for TV's "The Brady Bunch."
The CD release of The King and I includes a brief track, "Western People Funny," recorded at the original sessions but never released. It's often cut from revival stagings of the musical.
Supporting performances are by Tony winner Patricia Neway (The Sound of Music) as Lady Thiang, Lee Venora as Tuptim and Frank Porretta as Lun Tha.
The Candide recording was first issued on two LPs, packed with Leonard Bernstein musical numbers and dialogue from the libretto (book and lyrics have been credited to many writers over the years, since the musical first premiered in the 1950s).
Director Harold Prince's "iconoclastic reinterpretation of this problematic musical" was staged in Brooklyn in 1973 and transferred to Broadway the following year for a lengthy run that resulted in five Tony Awards and a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
"With its cheerfully profane new book, some fresh Stephen Sondheim lyrics and zesty orchestrations, this Candide is a radical but hugely entertaining departure from the much grander original production, featuring infectious performances from Mark Baker, Maureen Brennan, Lewis J. Stadlen and June Gable," according to Sony BMG.
The 1976 recording of Broadway's 20th anniversary revival of My Fair Lady features an articulate Coward-esque performance by Ian Richardson as Henry Higgins (not the rolling R's in his voice) and An earnest, sweet, clean Eliza Doolittle performance by then-newcomer Christine Andreas, who would later appear in revivals of Rodgers' On Your Toes and Oklahoma!. (She is currently starring in the national tour of The Light in the Piazza.)
George Rose won a Tony Award playing Alfred P. Doolittle. Goddard Lieberson produced the album.
The recording includes "The Embassy Waltz," which did not make the cut on either of the show’s original cast recordings (Broadway and London).
For more information, visit www.sonybmgmasterworks.com.