Buddy Hackett

I Had a Ball

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Pop lyricist Jack Lawrence ("Beyond the Sea," "All or Nothing at All") and composer Stan Freeman made their Broadway debut as a songwriting team with their only project together, I Had a Ball, a musical about the romantic couplings of fringe characters in Coney Island as orchestrated by a fortune teller. Comedian Buddy Hackett was the fortune teller and Richard Kiley was one of the raffish lovers. The show opened on December 15, 1964, and closed after 199 performances on June 12, 1965. Reviews suggested that Hackett was the only reason to see it. Unfortunately, the comedian was not a singer, and his participation in the production is underrepresented on the original cast recording. There are a couple of mildly witty numbers, "Neighborhood," sung by Rosetta Le Noire, and "The Affluent Society," by Kiley and Steve Roland, and the romantic ballad "Almost" isn't bad. But little of the music is memorable, and some of it is derivative. ("Coney Island, U.S.A." bears a curious resemblance to the old Dinah Shore theme "See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.") Hackett is amusing in his mostly spoken appearances, especially in "Dr. Freud," suggesting what impact he may have had on-stage. But the original cast recording of I Had a Ball is little more than a souvenir of a show that was not particularly well received in its time and forgotten afterwards. (The reissue adds as bonus tracks both sides of cast member Karen Morrow's single, "I Had a Ball" and "Almost," plus two songs from bandleader Lester Lanin's album of the show's score, "Lament" and "Be a Phony," both of which were cut from the production before the Broadway opening.)

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:24
2 0:48
3 2:21
4 2:22
feat: Lisa Luba
feat: Karen Morrow
7 2:05
8 2:38
9 3:40
10 3:01
11 2:45
12 1:57
13 3:52
feat: Karen Morrow
15 3:35
16 2:22
17 0:51
18 0:55
blue highlight denotes track pick