Various Artists

Celebrate Broadway, Vol. 8: Duets

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This eighth volume in the discount-priced Celebrate Broadway series of thematically chosen compilations of show music focuses on a staple of the stage musical, the duet. Such songs tend to be dramatic scenes in music, as two characters (in all but two cases here, a man and a woman) work out elements of their relationship in song. At least, that's true of some of the classic Broadway duets heard on this disc, drawn from RCA Victor Records' catalog of cast albums, including "People Will Say We're in Love" from Oklahoma!, "Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get Your Gun, "I Remember It Well" from Gigi, and "Do You Love Me?" from Fiddler on the Roof. Those may be the ideal selections on the album, especially because they are standards from great musical hits (OK, Gigi was more of a hit in its original film version), but the compilers go beyond such obvious choices to more challenging ones from less well-known and more recent shows, such as "Unworthy of Your Love," sung by two potential presidential assassins in Assassins; "Love Has Come of Age" from Jekyll and Hyde; and "You and I" from Chess. These are musically quite different from the vintage shows, of course, but the sequencing keeps things from being too jarring, as does the compilers' decision to use only recordings from the '60s on to maintain sonic parity. (The version of "People Will Say We're in Love," for instance, is from a 1979 Broadway revival, and that of "Anything You Can Do" from a 1966 Broadway revival, rather than the '40s original Broadway cast versions, which weren't in the RCA vault, anyway.) Still, the album demonstrates that there can be many different sorts of duets. "What Would You Do Without Me?" from The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd is a humorously contentious joust between two men that borders on obscenity, for instance, while "Marry the Man Today" from Guys and Dolls finds two women agreeing with each other on how to handle the opposite sex. Sometimes, the two singers aren't singing to each other at all, even if they are singing about each other, as in "The Honeymoon Is Over" from I Do! I Do! Sometimes they are just both singing the same lyrics for the most part, as on "Stranger in Paradise" from Kismet, which is not generally thought of as a duet at all, though it is sung by a romantic couple in the show. It's not hard to think of other Broadway duets that have been left out of this collection. "Bosom Buddies" from Mame would have been perfect, for example, as would have "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" from The Sound of Music. But there don't seem to be any cast albums featuring those songs on RCA. Thus, lesser material has had to fill in. Still, however, some of Broadway's greatest duets are here, and they are sung by a bevy of older talents, including Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, and Zero Mostel, as well as newer ones like Patti LuPone, Linda Eder, and Colm Wilkinson.

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