Original Broadway Cast

Hazel Flagg [Original Broadway Cast] [Masterworks Broadway]

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James Street's short story "Letter to the Editor" was adapted into a screenplay for the 1937 film Nothing Sacred by Ben Hecht, who also wrote the book for the stage musical version, 1953's Hazel Flagg. The story concerned a woman from Vermont who is reported to be dying of radium poisoning, and the New York magazine that brings her down to the city for a last fling, not realizing that the diagnosis is in error and she is really in no danger. Composer Jule Styne produced the musical and wrote the songs with pop lyricist Bob Hilliard, and the star was Helen Gallagher, moving up to a lead role after several supporting ones on Broadway. On the cast album, she sings her many songs with enthusiasm, but she doesn't really display the outsized personality of a headliner. Although the setting seems to be the interwar era, the music mostly sounds like 1950s pop, and Hilliard's words don't have the particularity of good theater lyrics. The stand-out songs include "How Do You Speak to an Angel?" (recorded for a pop cover by Eddie Fisher), sung by Hazel Flagg's romantic interest, a journalist voiced by baritone John Howard, and "Every Street's a Boulevard in Old New York." The latter is in the style of Ted Lewis and is sung by Jack Whiting as a mayor of New York who strongly recalls Jimmy Walker. That neither of these highlights features Gallagher is telling. If Ethel Merman had been available, the story might have been different, although the score wouldn't have been any more distinguished.