Out of This World was an unsuccessful musical that ran for 157 performances (about five months) on Broadway in 1950-1951. It had a score by Cole Porter, which is probably the only reason that Columbia Records recorded an original Broadway cast album. But Porter's name was not enough to give the show any life beyond the initial production; no film adaptation, no major revivals. This history makes it an ideal candidate for exhumation by the New York organization called City Center's Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert. The group probably should be called "Forgotten American Musicals by Famous Writers," since its intention is to give a few concert performances of musicals that have good scores, but were commercial failures and have been neglected since. Current Broadway stars don gowns and tuxedos and stand on-stage at City Center in midtown Manhattan holding scripts to present the songs and a cut-down version of the script for each show. Here, DRG Records has opted to go one step further, having the cast go into a recording studio to make only the second recorded version of Out of This World. The greater capacity of CDs allows for an additional 15 minutes of Porter's music, which translates into a couple of minor songs ("Maiden Fair" and "You Don't Remind Me"), a couple of instrumentals ("Dance of the Long Night" and "The Dawn"), and a song that was actually cut from the show in previews, then went on to become the best-remembered number associated with it, "From This Moment On." That addition improves the score, of course, and the cast is stellar. But, while theater historians fault the script for the musical's demise, even this wonderful recording shows that Porter's work, while often amusing, was not his best, and certainly not in a class with his previous stage production, Kiss Me, Kate. There are several witty patter songs, most of them written for the comic actress Charlotte Greenwood, who played the Greek goddess Juno (the plot is a modernized version of the Amphitryon myth, in which Jupiter descends to earth to seduce a human woman): "I Sleep Easier Now" and "Nobody's Chasing Me" as solos, plus "What Do You Think About Men?," done as a trio, and "Cherry Pies Ought to Be You," a quartet. The only funny one given entirely to another character is "They Couldn't Compare to You," a list song about women of history that compares unfavorably with "Where Is the Life That Late I Led?" from Kiss Me, Kate. In Greenwood's place, Andrea Martin channels Ethel Merman, a reasonable choice. (If Merman hadn't been too busy appearing in Call Me Madam, she might have made a success out of Out of This World.) Marin Mazzie applies her considerable soprano talent to the part of Helen, the romantic lead, and Ken Page is a commanding Jupiter. The recording was certainly worth making, just as the show was worth reviving for a few black-tie nights. Unlike some of the other shows presented by Encores!, however, the new version does not suggest that audiences were wrong in failing to support Out of This World in the first place.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Out of This World|