Songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane's first work, the Broadway musical Best Foot Forward, opened on October 1, 1941, and ran a successful 326 performances. The show concerned a prep school called Winsocki where a student invites a Hollywood movie star to be his prom date, and she surprisingly accepts. The score featured the hit "Buckle Down, Winsocki," and the cast included soon-to-be stars June Allyson and Nancy Walker, both of whom re-created their performances in the 1943 film version starring Lucille Ball. The 1963 off-Broadway revival heard on this recording probably wouldn't have made it onto wax if the producers had not cast a teenage Liza Minnelli in a featured role, making her professional debut. Martin and Blane had written the songs for Meet Me in St. Louis, the film starring Minnelli's mother, Judy Garland, and directed by her father, Vincente Minnelli, and Martin had worked for Garland thereafter, so the casting was no surprise. The surprise was that young Minnelli was so good. She was heard in ensembles in "The Three B's," "What Do You Think I Am?," and "Just a Little Joint With a Juke Box," and had a solo on "You Are for Loving," and her voice was already as distinctive as her engaging comic personality. Nominally speaking, Paula Wayne, playing Hollywood star Joy Gale, had the leading role, but she was outshone by Minnelli, who remains the reason to listen to this barebones version of the score, played on only two pianos (though a certain Ronald -- later known as Christopher Walken, also makes a good showing).
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Best Foot Forward|