David Merrick hated this song so much that he went into the orchestra pit during the out of town tryout of The Baker’s Wifeand stole the sheet music. I don’t think he had any clue that this one song, “Meadowlark,” would be the stand out hit from his then-ailing show. The producer went around muttering about this “bird song,” dismissing it as a show killer, even if it provided the heroine with a major act one finale showstopper. Patti LuPone was the first to record it (Carole Demas was the first to sing it before Merrick fired her), then Betty Buckley also put her dramatic stamp on it, even so much as influencing composer Stephen Schwartz to make a minor adaptation in the published sheet music. Pretty soon it became a staple of many musical theatre actresses, and it became one of those numbers that makes its way into audition rooms, recitals; you name it. There are lots of noted renditions and I manage to have several favorites. This is just one other one of them, sung by the delightful Liz Callaway, who is a favorite of Schwartz. This particular performance is at Carnegie Hall, though I am uncertain of the date. Tony nominee Callaway, who was part of the original casts of Merrily We Roll Along, Baby and Miss Saigon, hasn’t been on Broadway since The Look of Love in 2003 and I think she’s way overdue for a return. Enjoy.
One of my current favorite recordings is “Sibling Revelry” with Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway in concert. Unfortunately it is out of print (DRG, get it back out there!) but if you can get your hands on it, it is an epic win. The two sisters are so innately different as performers, but when they sing together it blends brilliantly. Ann’s timbre is a bit darker, and lends itself to jazzier renditions, while Liz’s clarion belt is the stuff of Broadway dreams. However, both have extensive ranges and both possess exceptional soprano registers, which you’ll hear in this video. This was what they refer to as “The Huge Medley,” filmed at a performance of “Sibling Revelry” on the 2007 R-Family cruise. Special thanks to my pal Robbie for finding part 2. Enjoy:
This song has been popping up a lot on my ipod (as referenced a few days ago in a previous post) and found this in my internet searches. It’s Liz Callaway in the original Broadway production of Baby in 1983. Quality is poor, but Callaway is stunning. Enjoy.
The complete studio cast recording of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1947 musical Allegro came out this week. While I’m waiting for the chance to hear it, I figured I’d tide myself over with Lisa Kirk lending that rich alto to the score’s most famous song, “The Gentleman is a Dope.”
Allegro, the team’s first wholly original musical, was highly experimental in its form and structure as it told an allegorical tale of an everyman who finds success, corruption and ultimately disillusionment in the “Big City.” It was met with mixed reaction by the critics and audiences, running a respectable if disappointing 315 performances. The show’s original cast album runs a mere 33 minutes, presenting highlights of what is a very unique score. Allegro was revived for a radio broadcast on NBC radio in 1951 starring John Lund and Jane Powell. It was also the second production of the very first season at Encores! back in 1994 (when it was still more of a concert than a concert staging).
The new album from Sony Classics features every note of the vocal score on two discs with the voices of Patrick Wilson, Audra McDonald, Liz Callaway (in the Lisa Kirk role), Laura Benanti, Judy Blazer, Ashley Brown, opera star Nathan Gunn, Maureen Brennan, Norbert Leo Butz, Marni Nixon (who I’m excited to be seeing this weekend in the Encores! production of Music in the Air) and the master himself, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. Long overdue, we now have an officially complete recording of one of the most intriguing scores of the 1940s. Now all we have to do is wait for a complete cast recording of Weill & Lerner’s Love Life.
As for Kirk, she went onto originate Lois Lane in Kiss Me Kate and would later replace Janis Paige in Here’s Love and offered great support in the original Broadway production of that cult favorite Mack and Mabel. Her final appearance on Broadway was in the 1984 revival of Noel Coward’s Design for Living as Grace Torrence. Her most noted work in film was as the vocal double for Rosalind Russell in the 1962 film version of Gypsy. Russell stated in her autobiography that she sang every note heard in the film, which is quite far from the truth. The recent soundtrack album release included the original tracks that Russell laid down in the studio before they decided to bring in Kirk, who sang the score in the lowest keys I’ve ever heard it sung. Rumor has it that after Ethel Merman died, recordings of Russell’s performances of the Gypsy numbers were found in her apartment. One can only imagine…
Browsing through the news section of Liz Callaway’s website, I came across this recent update:
Liz recently recorded two songs for the new recording of the show ALLEGRO. Among those also appearing on the CD will be Patrick Wilson and Judy Kuhn. Liz recorded “The Gentlemen Is a Dope” and “Allegro”.
I’m hoping for a complete studio cast recording as the original Broadway cast album of this legendary Rodgers and Hammerstein obscurity is considerably abridged (no overture and a length of thirty-three minutes). Given that the show is the most experimental of the R&H canon, it would be nice to have it on record in its entirety, to give us a better idea of the overall scope and size of the show. Unfortunately, when it was presented as the premiere Encores! vehicle in 1994, no one thought to record it. Hopefully this will change in the near future. Anyone hear anything about this?