Tony nominee Danny Burstein (soon to return to Broadway in My Fair Lady), Elizabeth Stanley (On the Town), Andréa Burns (In the Heights), Edward Hibbert (The Drowsy Chaperone), Sara Jean Ford (The Phantom of the Opera), and Philip Chaffin are featured on P.S. Classics' studio album of Cole Porter's Something for the Boys, which released online and in stores December 14.
With a score by Porter and a book by brother-and-sister writing team Herbert and Dorothy Fields, Something for the Boys follows three cousins who inherit a Texas ranch and convert it into a boarding house for wives of the soldiers stationed on a neighboring military base. The resulting dramatic and romantic entanglements famously include a scene in which a one of the cousins (played originally on Broadway by Ethel Merman) saves an ailing military plane by intercepting radio signals in her molar filling.
The show's 422-performance run made it a splash when it premiered on Broadway in 1943, later launching a national tour starring Joan Blondel, a West End production, and a film adaptation starring Carmen Miranda, Vivian Blaine, Phil Silvers, and Perry Como.
The score's biggest hit was "Hey, Good Lookin'," sung by Merman in the show's first act—though today it is most notable as the inspiration behind a separate hit song with the same title. Hank Williams drew from Porter's song in 1951 for his own version, taking the first two lines from Porter's chorus ("Hey, good lookin' / Say, what's cookin'?" became "Hey, good lookin' / Whatcha got cookin'?") and pairing them with a new (though similar) melody. Williams' riff on Porter went on to eclipse the original in popularity, with countless cover recordings that continue to be produced even today.
Something for the Boys was the fifth and final musical written by Porter for Merman, following Panama Hattie in 1940, Du Barry Was a Lady in 1939, Red, Hot and Blue in 1936, and Anything Goes in 1934. Unlike those earlier musicals, Porter drew from the big-band swing sound that was at its peak in 1943 when composing the score, making Something for the Boys unique among Porter's Broadway compositions.
Though Something for the Boys is among Porter's lesser performed and recorded works, this new album is not the show's first. A 1943 U.S. Armed Forces radio broadcast featuring performances from original cast members Merman, Bill Johnson, and Allen Jenkins and most—but not all—of the score was released in 1985. A 1997 album based on 42nd St Moon's San Francisco revival preserved the entire score, but with piano-only accompaniment. This release is the first to present the entire score with the full original orchestrations, penned by Hans Spialek, Robert Russell Bennett, Don Walker, and Ted Royal for 26 musicians and a marching band. For this recording, the orchestra is under the direction of Constantine Kitsopoulos and Greg Jarrett.
As was often the case with shows of this period, the original performance materials were discarded and presumed lost for decades. In 1987, Porter historian Robert Kimball and P.S. Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker discovered the original orchestrations in a warehouse that once belonged to music publisher Chappel & Co, which has allowed for the show to be fully restored to its original 1943 form.
For more information, visit PSClassics.com.