Various Artists

Celebrate Broadway, Vol. 9: Gotta Dance!

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If any of the volumes in the discount-priced Celebrate Broadway series of thematically chosen show music should have had an accompanying video, this would be the one. Dance is, of course, an integral part of most stage musicals, but it cannot be depicted on an audio disc (beyond the sound of tapping feet). Unlike many of the albums in the series, this ninth one, subtitled Gotta Dance!, features many songs that are not well known; in fact, except for "We're in the Money," "Somewhere," "The Joint Is Jumpin'," and "One Night in Bangkok," all of which had lives outside the theater, if they didn't actually originate outside the theater, most of the songs are obscure tracks on cast albums. But they all served as the musical basis for production numbers that were in some cases the highlights of the shows in which they were used. The series is drawn from the vaults of RCA Victor Records, one of the major purveyors of cast albums, but not possessing a complete collection by any means, so while some of these songs come from the original Broadway cast albums for the musicals (Hello, Dolly!, Redhead, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), others do not. Particularly used as a source is the cast album for the 1989 anthology show Jerome Robbins' Broadway, which provides "Charleston" from Billion Dollar Baby (a musical for which no cast album was recorded) near the start and two numbers from West Side Story at the end. In between, the compilers seem to have been looking for variety, mixing traditional Broadway numbers like "On the S.S. Bernard Cohn" from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever with the tropical "We Dance" from Once on This Island and the swing of "The Joint Is Jumpin'" from Ain't Misbehavin', a musical revue devoted to Fats Waller. "One Night in Bangkok," from Chess, with its insistent disco beat, is the most contemporary sounding number here. There is much to dance to, but the album also requires many different types of dancing, from the tango to the Charleston to the ballet chops required for "The Dance at the Gym" from West Side Story. It's exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time.

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