Masterworks Broadway to Continue Rare and Forgotten Cast Albums Series with Stephen Schwartz's WORKING, Irving Berlin's CALL ME MADAM & Oscar Hammerstein II's DESERT SONG
Masterworks Broadway continues to make good on its promise to open its vaults with more classic cast recordings previously unavailable in the CD era. Working (1978 Original Broadway Cast), Call Me Madam (Dinah Shore and the Original Broadway Company, 1950) and Desert Song (1959 Studio Cast) will be available as downloads through all major digital service providers and as disc-on-demand with the original cover art, via Arkivmusic.com and Amazon.com.
Based on the book by Studs Terkel, Working (1978) tells the story of average working people through original songs written by Stephen Schwartz (who also directed the show), James Taylor, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers and Susan Birkenhead. Terkel described the production as a celebration of the "ordinary" people whose lives are unsung. Though Working only ran for a total of 24 performances, it was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Steven Boockvor and Rex Everhart). The formidable cast also included Joe Mantegna and Lynne Thigpen, plus Bob Gunton and Patti LuPone who would be reunited a year later as husband and wife in the original Broadway cast of Evita. Working continues to be revised and performed throughout the world and was adapted for an episode of PBS's "American Playhouse" in 1982. The 1978 Original Broadway Cast recording of Working will be available on July 10th.
Call Me Madam is a pure adrenalin shot of circa-1950 zeitgeist, a screwball comedy pulled from the headlines with impeccable timing. The show was conceived as a vehicle for Ethel Merman, at that moment arguably the biggest star in Broadway musicals, and reunited her with Irving Berlin, composer/lyricist of her blockbuster 1946 hit Annie Get Your Gun. A red-hot ticket when it opened on October 12, 1950 at the Imperial Theatre, Call Me Madam proved to be the blockbuster Merman and Berlin hoped for. They were in the very best of hands: George Abbott directed, Jerome Robbins choreographed and the casting was supervised by Abbott's new young assistant, Harold Prince. The cast included an Oscar-winning leading man (Paul Lukas), the bright new presence of Russell Nype as Mrs. Adams's lovelorn attache and – as Merman's underutilized understudy – the young Elaine Stritch. The capitalization for the entire show came from NBC and its record division, RCA Victor. Unfortunately a big problem loomed as Merman was under contract to Decca Records who refused to release her to star in what was sure to be a hit record. Ultimately, RCA Victor turned to one of its hottest singers, Dinah Shore, to step into Merman's shoes for the original cast recording. It rose to No. 6 on the Billboard album chart but by the late 1950s, it had been deleted from the catalog. The recording got an LP reissue in 1977 but it disappeared again until this Masterworks Broadway release on August 14th, and is the first and only authorized CD version of RCA Victor's Call Me Madam digitally remastered from the original tapes.
Desert Song, Sigmund Romberg's classic musical with lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel, is brought to life in this 1959 Living Stereo recording available September 11th. The cast features Giorgio Tozzi – a mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera at the time – Kathy Barr and Peter Palmer (Lil' Abner). Legendary maestro Lehman Engel provided brand new arrangements as well as serving as musical director for the recording. Long unavailable in any format, this is the first release of the 1959 Studio Cast recording of Desert Song in the digital era.
Masterworks Broadway is a label of Sony Masterworks.
Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter-Keddy
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