By Steven Suskin
28 Apr 2013
Masterworks Broadway has given us another treat. Kurt Weill, Ira Gershwin and Moss Hart's Lady in the Dark opened on Broadway in 1941, and was a major hit in those pre-Oklahoma! days. It took a couple of decades to get a relatively full recording, by which point Weill and Hart were both gone and Ira was retired out in California. The 1963 recording came as part of Goddard Lieberson's series of studio cast albums at Columbia, with Lehman Engel doing an excellent job on the podium. Lady in the Dark is one of the best in the series, and one of the most important. This was an unusual, unlikely show back in the days before anyone thought up the term "concept musical."
Risë Stevens, the Met mezzo-soprano who died last month at the age of 99, does a wonderful job in the role originally devised by Gertrude Lawrence. (There are existing recordings of Lawrence singing her numbers, but they don't begin to compare to what we get on the Columbia recording.) Adolph Green is a delight as photographer Russell Paxton, the role originally played by Danny Kaye, and John Reardon is on hand as heart-throb Randy Curtis (singing "This Is New").
Lady in the Dark, now making its digital debut, is one of those indispensible Broadway cast albums which you really ought to know if you're interested in serious musical theatre.
(Steven Suskin is author of "Show Tunes" as well as "The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations," "Second Act Trouble," the "Broadway Yearbook" series and the "Opening Night on Broadway” books." He can be reached at Ssuskin@aol.com)