Masterworks & Playbill Debut 2 Editors' Choice Compilations

Masterworks Broadway, a label born out of the SONY/BMG merger, has gathered together a fresh new collection called "Broadway Scene Stealers" featuring songs sung by supporting characters in musicals.

According to press notes, "Masterworks Broadway draws on the combined catalogues of Sony Classical/Columbia Masterworks and RCA Victor, which includes some of the greatest Broadway show albums in history.  'Broadway Scene Stealers,' created in partnership with Playbill, promises to be the first in a series of thematically connected 'Editors' Choice' compilations from the vast Sony BMG catalogue. All told, the shows selected for Broadway Scene Stealers have racked up 174 Tony nominations and 62 Tony awards.  Playbill will provide editorial content for all CDs in the series"

"While many "Broadway" compilations feature a hodge-podge of movie soundtrack renditions and undistinguished 'cover' performances, the 'Editors' Choice' series promises 100 percent authenticity by offering only original cast performances. Executive producers for the series are Playbill president Philip S. Birsh and theatrical producer and director Richard Jay-Alexander who worked with Playbill's editors and David Foil and David Lai for Masterworks Broadway A&R direction.  Andrew Gans, Senior Editor of Playbill wrote the liner notes."

"We've all seen 'The Best of the Best' collections," says Richard Jay-Alexander. "But these collections have been very incomplete, with soundtracks replacing original cast performances. We're trying to lead people in the direction of mining these shows from a fresh point of view. We're on a mission to bring back the words 'original cast recording' as opposed to 'soundtrack.'

"Let's say a kid in high school is looking for audition songs. He's never going to find some of these numbers. 'Giants in the Sky' [from Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods] is a beautiful audition song for someone with a personality, but it's never featured in a collection."

"In two CDS, one devoted to male performances and one to female, 'Broadway Scene Stealers' is a guided tour through some of the Great White Way's indelible moments. Some of the artists heard in this collection went on to become stars (Barbra Streisand, Dorothy Loudon, John Travolta), while others (Paul Wallace, D'Jamin Bartlett) never made that leap. Jay-Alexander stresses that these performances are 'not always showstoppers but managed to steal the spotlight from the stars just long enough to work their way into the audiences' hearts and minds.'

'Ladies First: Broadway Scene Stealers – The Women' features several heavy vocal hitters, first and foremost Barbra Streisand, who sings her breakout hit "Miss Marmelstein" from 1962's I Can Get It for You Wholesale. This was the prelude to a brilliant career that skyrocketed two years later when she landed the part of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.

There's also Betty Buckley, who first came to prominence in 1776, a musical with an unusual subject: the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This show was dominated by men, but the twenty-two-year old, pre-Cats Buckley, playing the love-struck Martha Jefferson, came through with a great personal success in the charming ballad 'He Plays the Violin.'

The part of Agnes Gooch, the frump who masters the lessons of life in Jerry Herman's Mame, has long been one of the classic musical theater character parts. Broadway Scene Stealers gives us 'Gooch's Song' in the hands of the role's creator, Jane Connell."

"If you have Mame represented on a compilation," says Jay-Alexander, "it's going to be 'Mame' or 'If He Walked into My Life.' What happens to 'Gooch's Song,' which made Jane Connell famous and stopped the show?"

"Debbie Shapiro Gravitte sings the long-neglected Irving Berlin number "Mr. Monotony." Originally dropped from both Hollywood's Easter Parade and Broadway's Call Me Madam, 'Mr. Monotony' turned up years later in the retrospective Jerome Robbins' Broadway, where it finally found the audience it always deserved."

There are several other Tony-winning performances represented in Broadway Scene Stealers, including Dorothy Loudon ("Little Girls" from Annie); Nell Carter ("Get Some Trash for Your Cash" from the 1978 Fats Waller revue Ain't Misbehavin'); Debra Monk ("Everybody's Girl" from 1997's Steel Pier); Linda Hopkins ("Deep in the Night" from Inner City); Randy Graff,  ("You Can Always Count on Me" from City of Angels). Also included on 'Broadway Scene Stealers—The Women' are D'Jamin Bartlett ("The Miller's Son" from A Little Night Music) and Susan Johnson ("Ooh, My Feet" from Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella) and Mary McCarty ("When You're Good to Mama (Mama's Good to You)" from John Kander and Fred Ebb's Chicago).

"'Broadway Scene Stealers—The Men' offers an equally rich panoply of songs from some of the theater's most gifted male artists. Chief among them is Cyril Ritchard, whose portrayal of Captain Hook in the Jule Styne—Betty Comden  and Adolph Green Peter Pan has become one of the classic performances in Broadway musical history. Here he offers his "Captain Hook's Waltz," done with incomparable comic relish. Another great show from the 1950s, Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella, is represented here with Art Lund's stunning solo, "Joey, Joey, Joey."

Unknown young performers can always help give an audience a sense of discovery. Although the Andrews Sisters were the stars of the 1974 nostalgia musical Over Here!, it was John Travolta, in his pre-Hollywood days, who leaped to attention with a smooth-voiced rendition of 'Dream Drummin' and 'Soft Music.' One of the best-known songs in this collection comes from Gypsy, the 1959 landmark musical drama starring Ethel Merman as the indomitable stage mother, Rose. Although most hits from a Merman show were sung by Merman, Gypsy gave the young Paul Wallace a terrific showcase with first-act solo, 'All I Need is the Girl.'"

Also featured on this CD are Lonny Price ("Franklin Shepard, Inc." from Merrily We Roll Along); Swen Swenson ("I've Got Your Number" from Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh's Little Me); André de Shields  ("The Viper's Drag" from Ain't Misbehavin); Leonard John Crofoot ("Bigger Isn't Better" from 1978's Barnum); Ronald Holgate ("The Lees of Old Virginia" from 1776); Austin Pendleton ("Miracle of Miracles" from the record-breaking show Fiddler on the Roof); Ben Wright ("Giants in the Sky" from Into the Woods; and Barney Martin, ("Mister Cellophane" from the original 1975 production of Chicago).

In addition to drawing on the Sony BMG catalogue, the "Editors' Choice" series benefits from what Jay-Alexander calls "the breadth of access to Playbill's 123-year history. This is a very happy marriage."

Sony Classical, RCA Red Seal and deutsche harmonia mundi are labels of SONY BMG Masterworks. For e-mail updates and information regarding Sony Classical, RCA Red Seal and deutsche harmonia mundi artists, promotions, tours and repertoire, please visit www.sonybmgmasterworks.com.

To pre-order now, click here for Broadway Scene Stealers: The Men and click here for Broadway Scene Stealers: The Women.

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