Britain's reissue label Sepia Records again takes advantage of the 50-year copyright limit on recordings to assemble this unlicensed compilation of Mary Martin recordings. In the late '50s, Martin was in the planning stages for her next Broadway musical, The Sound of Music, but while it was being written, she occupied herself making records for the Walt Disney company and going on a national concert tour that found her doing two shows a day, a matinee for children and an evening performance for adults. The children's show, dubbed "Magic with Mary Martin," found her combining material primarily from two sources, a short children's musical revue called Three to Make Music, written by Mary Rodgers and Linda R. Melnick, and a Mary Rodgers adaptation of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's 1957 television musical Cinderella. (Selections from Peter Pan closed the show.) Martin toured from September 1958 to March 1959, concluding with a network television broadcast on Easter Sunday, March 29, 1959. Coincident with the TV special, RCA Victor Records released a Three to Make Music/Cinderella LP. The Sepia album reverses the order of that LP's sides, beginning with Cinderella (Tracks 1-6), followed by Three to Make Music (Tracks 7-14). Both reveal their stage sources, as Martin directly addresses her young listeners, embodying the fairy godmother of Cinderella as she tells the story and sings the songs, then engaging a German-accented clown (Dirk Sanders) as she explains how "it takes three to make music" -- the composer, the orchestra, and the audience. Young fans at home may find the recordings an interactive experience, as Martin, in the same way she called upon the audience to help resurrect Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, evokes responses from her unseen listeners. Next up comes the contents of a Disneyland Records album, Mary Martin Sings a Musical Love Story (Tracks 15-31), originally released in October 1958. Uncharacteristically for Disney, it does not contain children's music, but rather, medleys of happy love songs from the interwar period of the Great American Song, written by the likes of Rodgers & Hart, the Gershwins, and Cole Porter, with Martin fronting a small jazz band. The CD concludes with both sides of a 1956 one-off RCA single, "Boy Wanted," a song she sang in a TV version of the play Born Yesterday, and a re-recording of her first signature hit, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." Taken as a whole, the CD gives a good sense of Martin's work in a period in the ‘50s when, for once, she was not appearing eight times a week on Broadway.
Cinderella / Three to Make Music Review
by William Ruhlmann