Rodgers & Hart's musical A Connecticut Yankee, based on Mark Twain's fantasy A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, had two significant Broadway stagings; the original production opened November 3, 1927, and played 421 performances, the second-longest run for any Rodgers & Hart show in its initial mounting. The second, a "revisical" more than a revival, with six new songs, opened November 17, 1943, and ran 135 performances. That version produced an original cast album released by Decca Records. From the extensive annotations on the disc at hand, you would think it contained one or the other of the Broadway casts, since that's practically all that the notes talk about. Actually, this is a recording pulled from a kinescope of a live TV production broadcast on December 3, 1955, and starring Eddie Albert and Janet Blair, with Boris Karloff as King Arthur and Gale Sherwood as the villainous Morgan La Fay. The score is based on the 1943 revised version, so that it includes some of Rodgers & Hart's last songs, notably the hilarious patter number "To Keep My Love Alive," which demonstrates that Hart, despite being near the end of his life, retained his wit. There's plenty of dialogue in between the songs, giving a rough sense of the plot, in which a modern man unexpectedly finds himself in Camelot. The sound quality is far from perfect, with a lot of buzzing (a technical note blames the sound of the camera used to make the kinescope), but the historical value of the recording and the quality of the performances outweigh the sonic limitations. A final bonus track is the 1927 English Brunswick recording of Jessie Matthews singing "My Heart Stood Still" from the British musical One Dam Thing After Another, prior to the song's being interpolated into A Connecticut Yankee.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|A Connecticut Yankee, musical|