Described by theater historian Gerald Bordman as "essentially...an extended Jewish joke" about the complications leading up to a wedding, the 1962 musical flop A Family Affair marked the Broadway debuts (at least, in these jobs) of composer and co-lyricist John Kander, co-lyricist James Goldman, librettist William Goldman, director Harold Prince, and choreographer John Butler. Standup comedian Shelley Berman, one of the two above-the-title stars, had appeared in one previous musical flop and never did so again; the other, Eileen Heckart, was a straight actress appearing in her only musical. Both managed to hold their own as singers. Juvenile lead Larry Kert had previously appeared in West Side Story. Linda Lavin, a minor cast member who can be heard, just barely, in one of her parts as Fifi the Dressmaker in the song "Harmony," went on to a more substantial Broadway career. So, of course, did Kander (in his long-running partnership with lyricist Fred Ebb), James Goldman, and Prince, while William Goldman became a successful screenwriter. It is those names that make the cast recording of A Family Affair of interest to show music fans. The score is, not surprisingly, mediocre. Kander clearly had not found his individual identity yet, although he showed talent writing in a variety of styles that included a march, a Hawaiian song, and even a bolero. The album quickly went out of print after being released by United Artists Records. Forty-three years later, independent musical theater specialist DRG Records licensed it from EMI, which had acquired the United Artists catalog, and reissued it on CD on October 18, 2005.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Family Affair, musical|
|A Family Affair, musical|