Stanley Holloway

At His Very Best [Castle Pulse]

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British actor/singer Stanley Holloway is best remembered for his Tony-nominated appearance in the Broadway musical My Fair Lady, playing Eliza Doolittle's father and singing "With a Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time," a role he repeated in the West End and in the movie version. But he was already 65 years old when My Fair Lady first opened in 1956. This 40-track two-CD set (not to be confused with a 20-track single-disc compilation of the same title) shows what he was doing in the decades before that, dating back to the 1920s when, for instance, he starred in the London production of Vincent Youmans' musical Hit the Deck in 1927, singing the hit "Sometimes I'm Happy" (with co-star Ivy Tresmond) and "Join the Navy." A classically trained singer, Holloway applies his pure tenor to Tin Pan Alley-style romantic ballads such as "While Strolling in the Park" and "The Honeysuckle & the Bee." When declaiming such sentimental lyrics, he sings in a posh accent, but other tracks reveal his abilities as a character actor capable of adopting a variety of British accents (and, in "No Like-a da War," an Italian one). In particular, he recites and acts out a series of humorous poems, to piano accompaniment, regarding the exploits of young Albert Ramsbottom (who manages to be eaten by a lion and escape unharmed) and his parents, as well as Sam Small, who engages in adventures in the British Army that magically stretch from Waterloo to World War II. Holloway exhibits the remarkable versatility that found him steady work on the legitimate stage and in numerous films long before his "overnight" success in My Fair Lady. Occasionally, he also anticipates the zany British humor of the Goons and Monty Python.

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