Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's musical adaptation of the Jeeves stories of P.G. Wodehouse kicked around for a long time before getting to Broadway in the fall of 2001, beginning life as a failed musical called Jeeves in London in 1975. It was revised and remounted 20 years later with greater success as By Jeeves and played several regional theaters in the U.S. In fact, this recording is actually based on the Pittsburgh Public Theater production and is billed as the "American Premier," not the original Broadway cast version; but since only one minor cast member changed between Pittsburgh and New York and the album was released the day Broadway previews began, it rates the Broadway imprimatur. The album is much shorter than the 1997 one based on the London production, lacking the extensive dialogue sections that filled its predecessor. In fact, even at 14 tracks, it's padded -- "Entr'acte," "Wizard Rainbow Banjo Mix," and "Playout" are just medleys of other songs in the score. The remaining 11 songs make up a pleasant, if slight collection. Lloyd Webber clearly is drawing upon the work of 1920s and '30s show music composers; "That Was Nearly Us," for example, is dangerously similar to Rodgers & Hart's 1932 song "Isn't It Romantic?" The musical's show-within-a-show plot is only briefly glimpsed through the music, though the character of the hapless Bertie Wooster is clearly delineated, and John Scherer, who sings nearly every song, handles the role of this befuddled upper-class Britisher well. By Jeeves is a small musical, better suited to an English touring company than a Broadway production, which may explain why, when it finally opened on Broadway on October 28, 2001, scheduled for 16 weeks but hoping for more, it ran only nine before closing.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann