Vintage Cast Albums Released on CD

There is a glut of older cast albums coming out on CD. Many are reissues of deleted items from RCA and Sony. But there are also a slew of obscure titles being released for the first time ever in a digital format.

DRG is reissuing the 1962 Irving Berlin flop Mr. President with Robert Ryan and Nanette Fabray, Harold Rome’s 1952 hit about life at an adult summer camp Wish You Were Here, Bob Merrill’s Take Me Along, the 1959 adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! with a Tony-winning star turn by Jackie Gleason and starring Walter Pidgeon, Eileen Herlie and Robert Morse, and the 1960 failure Wildcat starring Lucille Ball, with a score from Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh. They’ve also released for the first time the obscure flop Maggie Flynn, a short-lived Broadway vehicle for Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. Even more obscure is To Broadway, With Love, a celebration of musical theatre presented at the World’s Fair in 1964 featuring classic Broadway material, but also six new songs by Bock & Harnick.

Sony and RCA continue their association with ArkivMusic with the impending releases and reissues of the following: The Lincoln Center revival of Carousel starring John Raitt and Eileen Christy supported by a radiant Susan Watson as Carrie, Reid Shelton (the original Oliver Warbucks in Annie) as Enoch and Jerry Orbach as Jigger. There is also the studio cast album of Oklahoma! with Nelson Eddy, Portia Nelson and Kaye Ballard. The 1953 Hazel Flagg, an adaptation of the classic film Nothing Sacred is having its North American release on CD, featuring a remastering not available on the the London disc. The show starred Helen Gallagher and famed character actor Thomas Mitchell, who is the only winner of the Best Actor in a Musical Tony for a non-singing performance. Making their digital debuts are the studio cast of DisinHAIRited featuring the cast and creators of Hair, the 1969 flop Jimmy starring Frank Gorshin about New York Mayor Jimmy Walker and the 1961 musical adaptation of George Abbott’s farce Three Men on a Horse called Let it Ride starring George Gobel and Sam Levene (that folded after 68 performances). They are also releasing Leonard Sillman’s revue New Faces of 1952 that helped jumpstart the careers of Eartha Kitt, Alice Ghostley, Carol Lawrence and Paul Lynde as well as the follow-up New Faces of 1956 that presented Jane Connell, Bill McCutcheon, Inga Swenson, John Reardon and Maggie Smith in her Broadway debut. The rather obscure off-Broadway musical The Last Sweet Days of Isaac with Austin Pendleton is also coming out on CD, as is the 1976 NY Shakespeare Festival-Lincoln Center revival of The Threepenny Opera starring Raul Julia as Mack the Knife, with Ellen Greene as Jenny, Blair Brown as Lucy and Elizabeth Wilson as Mrs. Peachum.

Finally, from Kritzerland we have two of the more interesting items. They have arranged for online-only limited edition CD premieres of two lost ’60s shows, the floperetta Anya (by Wright and Forrest, by way of Rachmaninoff) starring Constance Towers, Michael Kermoyan, Irra Petina and Lillian Gish. The musical was an adaptation of play Anastasia by Guy Bolton and Maurcelle Maurette, best known in its Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes. The show was met with extremely tepid response by critics in 1965, branded as outdated and dull, and shuttered after a mere 16 performances. However, the cast album was recorded and as is the case with many failed shows, developed a following based on the record. It is now remastered and CD (and as I’ve already listened to mine, it sounds wonderful). The other title is the bouzouki flavored Illya Darling, the 1967 musical adaptation of the hit international film Never on Sunday (and featuring much of the film’s creative team). The show went through out-of-town troubles, opened at the Mark Hellinger to scathing reviews, but stayed open for 320 performances on the star power of Melina Mercouri recreating her Oscar-nominated performance for Broadway. The CD is adding two numbers not included on the original (including the opening number) and putting the score back into it’s official show order. However it’s been arranged with the original record labels and the estates involved, Kritzerland is only pressing 1,000 copies of each, so you best gets yours today.