Show tune fanatics who got their fix from a slew of albums produced by Bruce Kimmel on the Varese Sarabande label will start a new habit Oct. 1 when Kimmel's Fynsworth Alley releases its first disc, "The Sondheim Album."
The recording has fresh orchestrations (by David Siegel) of songs that will be both new and familiar to followers of Sondheim's work. Todd Ellison conducts singers including Dame Edna ("Losing My Mind"), Ruthie Henshall ("Children Will Listen"), Dorothy Loudon ("I'm Still Here") and Brian d'Arcy James ("Giants in the Sky").
The disc is available via mail order through the Fynworth web site (www.fynsworthalley.com) and is expected to be in stores by February 2001.
Listeners may find two lesser-known songs here: Brent Barrett sings "Make the Most of Your Music" (heard in the 1987 London version of Follies, a song for Ben); and Emily Skinner sings "I Must Be Dreaming" (from Sondheim's juvenilia, a show called All That Glitters, written at age 19 and never recorded). "I Must Be Dreaming" is a bonus track available only on the discs sold via the internet.
The album includes: • "Make The Most of Your Music" (London Follies) Brent Barrett
• "Everybody Says Don't" (Anyone Can Whistle) Liz Callaway
• "Broadway Baby" (Follies) Lea DeLaria
• "Losing My Mind" (Follies) Dame Edna Everage
• "A Moment With You" (Saturday Night) Theresa Finamore and Andrew Lippa
• "Sorry-Grateful" (Company) Guy Haines
• "Children Will Listen" (Into the Woods) Ruthie Henshall
• "Giants in the Sky" (Into the Woods) Brian d'Arcy James
• "Anyone Can Whistle" (Anyone Can Whistle) Jane Krakowski
• "With So Little to Be Sure of" (Anyone Can Whistle) / "Who Could Be Blue?" (cut from Follies)
• "I'm Still Here" (Follies) Dorothy Loudon
• "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow" (Follies) / "Not A Day Goes By" (Merrily Roll Along) Christiane Noll
• "It Wasn't Meant to Happen" (cut from Follies) Michele Pawk
• "Another Hundred People" (Company) Alice Ripley
• "I Must Be Dreaming" (All That Glitters) Emily Skinner
• "So Many People" (Saturday Night) Tami Tappan.
Liner notes are by Kimmel and arts writer Alvin Klein. Phil Reno is the pianist for Dame Edna.
In his tenure at the Varese Sarabande label, Kimmel produced 106 theatre related CDs, including shows such as the 1994 revival of Merrily We Roll Along and the 1996 revival of I Do! I Do!, and the L.A. cast recording of Ruthless! The label also offered such solo artists as Sally Mayes, Twiggy, Rebecca Luker and the late Laurie Beechman, and special compilations like "Unsung Musicals" and "Lost in Boston."
But Varese found their show catalogue less profitable and manageable than their film and classical endeavors, so they halted that line "and got out of the Broadway business," as Kimmel puts it. Kimmel bought out the vast majority of the theatre-related disks he created there. He started the new label to put out show-related CDs and also help move the back catalogue of Varese Sarabande discs he produced.
Other expected releases will include an Emily Skinner solo album, which was recorded in August. That disc will include three duets with Skinner's Side Show co-star Alice Ripley, including "Ballyshannon" from James Joyce's The Dead and a medley of Gypsy's "You'll Never Get Away From Me" and "Together Wherever We Go."
"You'd think cast albums wouldn't be as expensive as they are," said Kimmel. "But you factor in the cast, the band...it's much more expensive than the compilation and solo albums." Kimmel estimates the cost of an average solo artist CD to run in the $35,000 range, while the Sondheim album topped $50,000. Other upcoming albums include a jazz trio version (The Trotter Trio) of The Fantasticks — all instrumentals, with co composer Harvey Schmidt guesting at the piano on one track, as well as solos from Brent Barrett (Chicago) and the aforementioned Alice Ripley. (The latter is also recording a rock album on another label but will do a showtune disk for Fynsworth.) A Richard Rodgers compilation, similar to the Sondheim disc, is also in the works.
For more information, check out the Fynsworth web site at www.fynsworthalley.com.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz