Broadway Scene Stealers: Coming Back A Star!

None of the performers were stars when they introduced the songs included in Masterworks Broadway and PLAYBILL Records Editors' Choice terrific new pair of Broadway Scene Stealers CDs.  And none of the songs they sang became popular standards.  But this is the kind of collection that tells you what makes the Broadway musical such a unique and vibrant art form.  Mere acting and singing doesn't begin to describe the deliciousness of Cyril Ritchard merrily warbling his own praises so flippantly penned by Betty Comden and Adolph Green to Jule Styne's Offenbachian three-quarter melody in Peter Pan's "Captain Hook's Waltz." Lonny Price's breakneck-paced angst in Merrily We Roll Along's "Franklin Shepard, Inc.," Stephen Sondheim's comic/dramatic playlet that suggests the dark underbelly of a Danny Kaye patter, is, despite that show's short run, a landmark theatrical performance.  And the colors and textures Debbie Shapiro (now Debbie Gravitte) brought to the Irving Berlin rarity "Mr. Monotony" in Jerome Robbins' Broadway is the kind of artistry that galvanizes audiences into silent rapture.

The two CDs, sold separately in women's and men's editions, each contain twelve tracks performed by future stars making their Broadway debuts, seasoned pros finally getting the right number in the right show, and some whose one brief shining moment on the Broadway stage proved indelibly memorable.  Andrew Gans, Senior Editor at Playbill, provides entertaining notes that give you a snapshot description of each performance.

Barbra Streisand at the recording session of I Can Get it For You Wholesale.
All the photos here have never been seen before and
come from the vaults of COLUMBIA and RCA.

Each CD has performances by one Broadway newbie who eventually became a nationally known celebrity.  John Travolta's creamy vocals in Over Here's combination of "Dream Drummin'" and "Soft Music" carry the promise of a stage career that might have been, while Barbra Steisand's hilariously animated antics in I Can Get It For You Wholesale's "Miss Marmelstein" can make you wonder if she might have wound up being one of musical theatre's great character comics if a show like Funny Girl didn't come along and whisk her into stardom.

Nell Carter at the recording session of Ain't Misbehavin'

All the photos here have never been seen before and
come from the vaults of COLUMBIA and RCA.

Barney Martin ("Mr. Cellophane") and Mary McCarty ("When You're Good To Mama") show how important strong acting is when delivering golden Kander and Ebb material from Chicago.  A couple of kids from 1776, Ron Holgate ("The Lees of Old Virgina") and Betty Buckley ("He Plays The Violin") sing with the kind of crackling excitement that might be described as "too Broadway" if they were competing on a certain television program that promotes bland, cookie-cutter song stylings.

 Lonny Price at the recording session of Merrily We Roll Along
All the photos here have never been seen before and
come from the vaults of COLUMBIA and RCA.

Long before Andre DeSheilds' one solo stopped The Full Monty cold, his feet pulled off the same feat (not to mention his voice and interpretive skills) in Ain't Misbehavin' with "The Viper's Drag."  Speaking of vipers, they say Swen Swenson's snakelike dance moves in Little Me's "I've Got Your Number" so excited audiences that star Sid Caesar was seriously afraid he was stealing the show from him.  Paul Wallace made only one appearance on Broadway, but young hoofers everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude for introducing Gypsy's "All I Need Is The Girl."

Linda Hopkins at the recording session of Inner City.
All the photos here have never been seen before and
come from the vaults of COLUMBIA and RCA.

But there are star performances throughout each CD by Nell Carter (Ain't Misbehavin'/"Cash For Your Trash"), Susan Johnson (The Most Happy Fella/"Ooh! My Feet"), Linda Hopkins (Inner City/"Deep In The Night"), D'Jamin Bartlett (A Little Night Music/"The Miller's Son"), Jane Connell (Mame/"Gooch's Song"), Dorothy Loudon (Annie/"Little Girls"), Debra Monk (Steel Pier/"Everybody's Girl), Randy Graff (City of Angels/ "You Can Always Count On Me"), Ben Wright (Into The Woods/"Giants In The Sky"), Leonard John Crofoot (Barnum/"Bigger Isn't Better), Austin Pendleton (Fiddler on the Roof/"Miracle of Miracles") and Art Lund (The Most Happy Fella/"Joey, Joey, Joey).

Broadway Scene Stealers is an excellent collection for those in the early stages of enjoying musical theatre, as it features many lesser-known performers who have had distinguished careers and strong story and character-driven songs – the kind that may not become hits, but propel a musical's dramatics – by some of Broadway's best composers and lyricists.  More knowledgeable showtune fans will certainly have their own ideas of performances they would have liked to see included (My personal collection would have featured Phyllis Newman's "I Was A Shoo-In" from Subways Are For Sleeping and Walter Willison's "I Do Not Know A Day I Did Not Love You" from Two By Two) but that's what second volumes are for.

To order now, click here for Broadway Scene Stealers: The Men and click here for Broadway Scene Stealers: The Women or visit iTunes to purchase with the bonus tracks included in the album price.

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From This Author Michael Dale

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