EXCLUSIVE: John Cullum, Fred Applegate, Edward Hibbert Among Guests on CD of Vernon Duke's "Lost" Musical Sweet Bye and Bye
By Kenneth Jones
PS Classics announced track listing, cover art, special guests and a release date for its world-premiere recording of Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash's musical Sweet Bye and Bye, which opened and closed in 1946 on its way to Broadway.
The studio cast album — featuring Danny Burstein, Philip Chaffin, Jim Stanek, Heidi Blickenstaff, Graham Rowat, Michele Ragusa, Telly Leung, Sara Jean Ford, and, in the leading role originated by Dolores Gray, Marin Mazzie — will be available in stores on July 12, but is currently available for pre-order at the label's website, www.psclassics.com, where it will ship two weeks ahead of street date.
Freshly announced as special guest appearances are Broadway's Rebecca Luker, Fred Applegate, John Cullum, Georgia Engel, Joel Hatch and Edward Hibbert.
As previously reported in a Playbill.com exclusive, Sweet Bye and Bye has been a long-time labor of love for PS Classics co-founder and album producer Tommy Krasker. A one-of-a-kind collaboration between composer Duke, lyricist Nash, and bookwriters S. J. Perelman and Al Hirschfeld, the show experienced a tumultuous out-of-town tryout period — including cast firings, nervous breakdowns and backstage violence — that left one of the most accomplished theatre scores of the '40s in ruins.
Fully restored by Krasker, and featuring new orchestrations by Jason Carr (the originals did not survive), Eric Stern as conductor and vocal direction by David Dabbon, Sweet Bye and Bye has been brought back to life in a world-premiere studio recording.
Shortly after completing recording the week of May 23, Krasker told Playbill.com, "I've been doing music theatre restorations since the early 1980s — I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a 'lost' score the way I did with Sweet Bye and Bye. The ballads are so richly romantic, and the comedy songs seem as clever and fresh and sharply satiric today as they must have in 1946. Most of the time when you discover these lost scores, there are one or two numbers you kind of want to sweep under the rug — they just don't measure up. That's not the case here; it's all of a piece. But beyond that, I think what makes the Sweet Bye and Bye saga so deeply moving is that this brilliantly original score was shredded and decimated by the time it reached the stage.
"Duke and Nash wrote this masterful work, but there were casting problems and script problems, and songs had to be jettisoned right and left to accommodate them. By the time the show closed in Philadelphia, less than half the original score remained. The title song was cut. The 'I want' song was cut. The sole love song was cut. It was wild — and awful. I've felt such a need to restore this work since I discovered the original musical manuscripts back in 1986, to let the world finally hear what Duke and Nash intended. The longer you spend in this business, you don't get a lot of chances to trot out superlatives, but recording Sweet Bye and Bye was one of the most gratifying, moving experiences I've ever had in the studio."
Krasker added that PS Classics "will be going all out, with a 32-page full-color booklet, with essay, synopsis, lyrics, production photos and other surprises."
Krasker had previously told Playbill.com, "Sweet Bye and Bye isn't quite like anything else. It's this one-of-a-kind collaboration between Duke and Nash and S.J. Perelman and Al Hirschfeld, who wrote the book, and I think it represents Duke and Nash at the very height of their creative powers. It was Duke's first attempt to write an 'integrated' musical score in the style popularized by Oklahoma!, and you can tell he brought his full talents and background and passion to bear on the project; the music is challenging and virtuosic yet deeply romantic in a way I've never quite seen in any other Broadway score I've studied. The show was a huge flop in 1946 — never even made it into New York — and folks have postulated the reasons for decades now. I think it was combination of a lot of factors — some conceptual, some casting — but at the end of day, for the purposes of recording, what's left is this simply stunning score. Duke and Nash loved three of the songs so much — 'Born Too Late,' 'Roundabout,' and 'Just Like a Man' — they re-used them later."
The track listing is as follows:
Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and a six-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through its award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by Kate Baldwin, Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Jessica Molaskey and Christine Andreas; and recordings drawn from rare sound archives, including "Sondheim Sings."
Upcoming releases include Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman's "novel symphony for actors and orchestra" The Trumpet of the Swan, the 1930 version of George and Ira Gershwin's Strike Up the Band, and solo discs by Kate Baldwin and Liz & Ann Hampton Callaway. Visit the label's website, www.psclassics.com.
Send questions and comments to the Webmaster
Copyright © 2013 Playbill, Inc. All Rights Reserved.