Jerry Orbach

Off Broadway

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26-year-old Jerry Orbach had recently made the leap from off-Broadway to Broadway stardom when he recorded his first (and, as it turned out, his only) solo album in three days in July 1962. But he was intent on looking back at the earlier stage of his career and illuminating a somewhat forgotten part of musical theater by filling the album with songs that originated in off-Broadway shows. Several were from shows that actually had turned up on Broadway or would later: "In a Little While" from Once Upon a Mattress, "I Could Be Happy With You" from The Boyfriend, "There's a Small Hotel" from On Your Toes, "I'm Going to Find a Girl" from Leave It to Jane, and "Mack the Knife" from The Threepenny Opera. But most of them were not well-known, despite being effective stage pieces. Working with arranger/conductor Norman Paris, Orbach demonstrated a flexible, enthusiastic low tenor that worked as well on up-tempo comic numbers like "Portofino" (which appeared in a number of the revues at Upstairs at the Downstairs in the late 1950s) as it did on wistful ballads like "Try to Remember," the song that had put him on the map when he introduced it in the off-Broadway musical The Fantasticks. The album is both a demonstration of the wealth of strong material being written beyond Broadway in the '50s and early '60s and a convincing display of Orbach's talents as a singer. (After decades out of print, Off Broadway was reissued on CD on July 25, 2000.)

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