The British Sepia Records label is one of several that specialize in releasing unlicensed versions of recordings that have fallen out of copyright in Europe (where the term is only 50 years), and this one combines two albums originally released by RCA Victor Records in the 1950s (plus a single from 1947). Lady in the Dark, the 1941 Broadway "musical play" with a script by Moss Hart and songs by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, appeared too early to have an original Broadway cast album. But on September 25, 1954, a version of the show was broadcast live on television, and six weeks later, the cast, led by Ann Sothern, recorded an LP based on the TV production. (AEI Records has released an album of the actual soundtrack recording.) Although there is plenty of dialogue, a music-dominated recording necessarily fails to convey a complete sense of this drama, since the musical segments are moments of fantasy and reverie that take place entirely in the mind of the main character, a magazine editor who is torn by indecision about her personal and professional life. Nevertheless, Sothern and the ensemble handle the material well, particularly the standout numbers "The Saga of Jenny" and "Tchaikovsky," the latter a tongue-twisting one-minute patter song here ably performed by Carleton Carpenter. Down in the Valley, originally conceived by Weill as a radio play and later performed as a short stage operetta in 1948, was also later given a TV production, in 1950, followed by a studio recording by the cast, which included Marion Bell, who had appeared in the stage version. It's a melodrama of love and death with a story somewhat reminiscent of Carousel, though simpler. The disc concludes with a single by Bell, singing "If I Loved You" from Carousel and, joined by Jimmy Carroll, "They Say It's Wonderful" from Annie Get Your Gun. Since these recordings are long out of print, show music fans will welcome their CD appearance, even if the disc's legitimacy seems questionable on the American side of the Atlantic. Good sound and excellent annotations make the package even more valuable.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann