Two on the Aisle [A Decca Broadway Original Cast Album]

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The Broadway revue Two on the Aisle marked the first collaboration between composer Jule Styne and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. By 1951, revues -- shows featuring independent songs and comedy sketches but no actual story -- were rare on Broadway, and Two on the Aisle was the last major one. "There's no plot and there's no play/Just Bert Lahr and Dolores Gray," proclaimed the lyrics of one song, mentioning the two stars, Lahr, a longtime Broadway comic best remembered as the Cowardly Lion in the movie The Wizard of Oz, and Gray, an American who had made her name in the London production of Annie Get Your Gun and would go on to several films, including Kismet. The show was moderately successful, but as John Lahr put it in his biography of his father, Notes on a Cowardly Lion, "None of the songs lived." Certainly, no hits emerged from the score, yet there is some witty material, particularly "If You Hadn't, But You Did" (aka "If"), which is full of clever rhymes as it details the reason a woman is not only breaking up with a man, but also shooting him, and "Catch Our Act at the Met," which recasts high opera as low vaudeville. The cast album features none of the comedy sketches, so it is dominated by Gray, who solos on five of the songs, with Lahr, the biggest name in the cast, having only one number to himself, "The Clown," while duetting with Gray on "Catch Our Act at the Met." As forgotten as the show itself, the cast album was out of print for decades until Decca Broadway reissued it on CD just in time for its 50th anniversary in the fall of 2001.

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