Cast albums for five of the best-known American musicals are being re-released on CD by Sony Classical & Columbia/Legacy Recordings. All five will feature extensive liner notes, archival photographs, digital remastering and, in four cases, rarely-heard bonus music.
Here's the line-up for this new "Columbia Broadway Masterworks" series:
A CHORUS LINE (1975)
Marvin Hamlisch, Ed Kleban, James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante's musical won the Pulitzer and nine Tonys. This new CD features one extra minute in "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love," mainly Baayork Lee's "Four-foot-ten" segment.
Here's something to rival the excitement surrounding the current Broadway revival of John Kander & Fred Ebb's Cabaret: four rare songs, sung by the composers: "I Don't Care Much," "Roommates," "Good Time Charlie," and "It'll All Blow Over." All four were either cut from Cabaret during rehearsals or in Boston. Playbill On-Line's own Ken Mandelbaum penned the liner notes for this re-release.
Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe's musicalization of the King Arthur legend features Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Robert Goulet. There's no new material but the running order of the songs now follows the stage production. KISS ME KATE (1948)
This one's a little complicated, so here's the official Sony explanation: "In the original release of [Cole Porter's] Kiss Me Kate, as well as this edition, the entr'acte music [preceding act two) was put at the beginning of the recording, in place of the overture. On this version, the previously deleted overture, recorded ten years later by a different orchestra, is included at the end as a bonus track. (The overture comes from Lehman Engel's "Curtain Going Up" series, 1958).
MY FAIR LADY (London, 1958)
This version adds in "The Embassy Waltz," from a 1956 recording by Percy Faith & His Orchestra. (The tune wasn't recorded for the original recording sessions.) Of course, Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews star in this Lerner & Loewe classic.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this wave of re-releases is that they're just the beginning. Anticipated future titles include Annie, South Pacific, West Side Story, Gypsy, Mame, Sweet Charity, Nine, Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, Pajama Game, Bye Bye Birdie and Anything Goes.
Thomas Z. Shepard, Thomas Frost, Didier C. Deutsch and Gary Schultz serve as producers of the Sony/Columbia series. Said Legacy senior vice-president Jeff Jones, "We hired theatre historians to write new liner notes, researched and used archival photographs, and most importantly, found missing or long-lost tracks." Sony Classical president Peter Gelb added, "With this collection, we are consolidating and restoring Sony Music's vast catalog of theatre recordings."
-- By David Lefkowitz