Following the highly successful limited releases of Anya and Illya, Darling on CD, Kritzerland is bringing us their next offering: the first ever CD issue of the 1968 off-Broadway revival of Harold Arlen and Truman Capote’s House of Flowers. The original 1954 Broadway production struck out with critics (mostly over the book, of course) and lasted 165 performances. Saint-Subber, the original producer and Capote felt that the production was too big for such an intimate story, so they reworked the show for a smaller venue. However, this production at the Theatre de Lys in 1968 proved even more shortlived than the original, lasting only 57 performances. The recent concert at Encores! also proved the book was mostly unworkable in spite of the phenomenal Arlen-Capote score (which gave the world such great songs as “One Man (Ain’t Quite Enough),” “A Sleeping Bee,” “I Never Has Seen Snow,” “Two Ladies in de Shade of de Banana Tree,” and “Don’t Like Goodbyes”).
Having never heard this particular recording, I would find it hard to believe it will live up to the essential original Broadway cast album with Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll and Juanita Hall. However, this particular album is essential for my fellow aficionados because it has several songs not present on the original cast recording as well as different, more authentically Caribbean orchestrations from Joe Raposo, who would later find great success for his musical contributions to “Sesame Street.” Kudos to Bruce Kimmel and the folks at Kritzerland for giving us yet another long forgotten album (and with this the third United Artists LP being put on CD, I hope it’s not long until the London Promises, Promises with Tony Roberts and a sublime Betty Buckley comes to disc). This will be another limited release of 1,000 copies only.