Gertrude Lawrence

Lady in the Dark [Prism]

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The 1941 Broadway musical Lady in the Dark opened a few years before Oklahoma! and helped establish the original Broadway cast album as a commercial force in the record business, and no formal cast album of the show was recorded. But its star, Gertrude Lawrence, recorded a triple-disc, 78-RPM album of songs from it for RCA Victor Records, and Danny Kaye, who became a star in his featured role, recorded three singles of its songs for Columbia. With this material out of copyright in Europe, British budget reissue label Prism Leisure has resurrected those 12 tracks for this Lady in the Dark compilation album, adding as a bonus Hildegarde's recording of "The Saga of Jenny" from another 1941 Lady in the Dark album she recorded with Robert Hannon for Decca. The result is the nearest thing to an original Broadway cast album possible from the show, though, of course, instead of a coherent score there is considerable repetition (three versions of "The Saga of Jenny" and two each of "One Life to Live," "The Princess of Pure Delight," and "My Ship"); there are many omissions ("It Looks Like Liza," "The Woman at the Altar," "The Greatest Show on Earth," and "The Best Years of His Life"); and songs aren't necessarily being sung by the performers who sang them on-stage. Happily, there is also one song, "It's Never Too Late to Mendelssohn," that was cut from the score before the Broadway opening. One certainly gets the flavor of Lawrence's and Kaye's lively performances in recordings made while they were appearing on-stage, particularly in her version of "The Saga of Jenny," and his of the star-making tongue twister "Tchaikovsky (And Other Russians)."

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