Lucky in the Rain is a book musical, that book written by Sherman Yellen, whose Broadway credits include The Rothschilds and Rex, that uses for its score existing songs from the catalog of veteran songwriter Jimmy McHugh (1895-1969) composed with lyricists Ted Koehler, Dorothy Fields, Harold Adamson, and Al Dubin. (There is also one song, "When Love Goes Wrong," by Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael.) Yellen's story, set in Paris in 1927, concerns the romantic and professional adventures of reporters for an American newspaper as they interact with such real historical figures as Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker, and Isadora Duncan. The musical was produced at the Goodspeed Opera House, a major regional theater in East Haddam, CT, in the summer of 1997, where it received favorable notices from the national press. Unfortunately, that was that until this studio-cast recording made by DRG Records two and a half years later. There is a plot summary in the CD booklet as well as liner notes by Yellen, but in practice the recording is basically a Jimmy McHugh songbook. Peter Matz's orchestrations lend musical consistency to songs written over a period of decades, and the cast performs them in a theatricalized way. But the lyrics speak of love, the joy of dancing, and other issues without a hint of particular characterization, and the recording contains no dialogue. Also, the assignments of character are not strict by any means. Barbara Cook, for example, is cast as Gertrude Stein singing "On the Sunny Side of the Street," but doubles as Isadora Duncan with "Love Me as If There Were No Tomorrow." "Don't Blame Me" is supposed to be sung by a fictional character, Zach, but once again the singer is Cook, as the notes advise, "forget gender here, it's all about artistry." Indeed, and forget the story, too. Instead, just enjoy Cook and her fellow singers including Debbie Gravitte, Malcolm Gets, and Patrick Wilson doing their best with McHugh's greatest hits.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann