Various Artists

Center Stage: Broadway, 1947-1958

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Center Stage: Broadway 1947-1958 is the second of six budget-priced compilations of cast recordings issued by Universal Music's Decca Broadway imprint, covering the six decades since the founding of the American Decca Records label. Although Decca pioneered the Original Broadway Cast album as a record company staple in the mid-'40s, as of 1947 competitors Columbia Records and RCA Victor joined the fray, and Decca, while getting its share of Broadway recordings, also lost out on many. The longest running shows and biggest selling cast albums of the period 1947-1958 included My Fair Lady, South Pacific, and The Music Man, and Decca didn't get to record any of those. But the company did get such major hits as The King and I and Guys and Dolls, so songs from those are included here, along with an emphasis on notable performers from lesser-known shows, such as Pearl Bailey and Ray Bolger. Compilation producers Brian Drutman and Joseph S. Szurly have widened their net by not sticking strictly to the limits suggested by the subtitle "Broadway 1947-1958." There is a selection from the long-running Off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, and the so-called bonus track comes from The Amazing Adele, which closed out of town. Whereas the producers justified the 1935-1946 range of the first volume (A Time of Hope) by including songs from '30s shows actually recorded in the '40s, here they reverse field, moving Rodgers & Hart's '30s musical On Your Toes to the '50s by using a song from the 1954 revival. And crooner Dick Haymes, who joins Ethel Merman on "You're Just in Love" from Call Me Madam never appeared on-stage in the show. Such fudging, however, only serves to create a listenable collection that samples from some of the best cast recordings of the late '40s and '50s.

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