AUDIO EXCLUSIVE: Megan Hilty Sings "Little Rock" From Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Concert Album
By Kenneth Jones
The countdown to the Sept. 4 release of the 27-track Encores! concert cast recording of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has begun, and Sony Masterworks is giving Playbill.com an exclusive first-listen to one of the 1949 musical's signature numbers — "A Little Girl From Little Rock," featuring Megan Hilty.
The disc will be the most complete recording yet of the jazzy, tuneful score by composer Jule Styne and lyricist Leo Robin. The show also gave the world "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" — a star turn sweetened with crowd-pleasing back-from-the-wings encores.
The album, drawing on the acclaimed May 9-13 New York City Center Encores! concert featuring NBC "Smash" star Megan Hilty as Lorelei Lee, conducted by Rob Berman, was recorded the week of May 21 in New York City. The full disc will include the several delicious encores that Robin and Styne wrote to "A Little Girl From Little Rock" and "Diamonds…," which were not completely preserved on the original Broadway cast album that featured Carol Channing.
The CD booklet — for those who still like to feel a recording in their hands and read about its history — will include notes by Berman (music director of Encores!) and Styne's widow, Margaret Styne, as well as Robin's complete lyrics and production photos.
The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes score features "Bye Bye Baby" "It's High Time," "Just a Kiss Apart," "I Love What I'm Doing," "Sunshine," "You Say You Care" and more.
Hilty (Broadway's 9 to 5) is a Sony artist. She's also working on recording her first solo album for Sony Masterworks/Columbia Records; it's expected in early 2013.
The Blondes cast also includes Rachel York as Dorothy, Clarke Thorell as Gus, Aaron Lazar as Henry plus Simon Jones, Stephen R. Buntrock, Phillip Attmore and Jared Grimes.
For Encores!, the original orchestrations of Don Walker were heard. The concert script adaptation was by David Ives.
The Encores! audience got to hear complete dance sequences and obscurities from the score ("In the Champ de Mars," "Finaletto," "Coquette," "Button Up With Esmond").
Here's the album's track listing:
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, based on the novel by Anita Loos, has music by Styne, lyrics by Robin and book by Loos and Joseph Fields. The show made a star of Carol Channing; an original cast album preserves her work, and some of the score. (There's also a 1995 Broadway revival cast album; that run was short-lived.) The property (with new plot and songs) is best known for its 1953 film version starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.
Playbill Video visited the Encores! cast of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in rehearsal last spring.
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