Various Artists

Original Cast! 100 Years of the American Musical Theater: Visitors From Abr

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Having finished up its multi-volume Original Cast! series of two-CD samplers of natively produced Broadway productions, the Metropolitan Opera Guild produced this addendum, a two-hour-and-22-minute, 40-track two-CD sampler of foreign musicals that played on Broadway during the 20th century. Twenty-nine shows were included, from Floradora, which opened in 1900, to Sunset Boulevard, which opened in 1994. Most of the shows turned out to be British, with the dominant figures being Noel Coward and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Producer Paul Gruber tended to ignore obvious choices in favor of secondary, but still good songs, so that, for example, the two selections from The Threepenny Opera did not include "Mack the Knife" and the choice from Stop the World -- I Want To Get Off was not "What Kind of Fool am I?," but "Once In a Lifetime" instead. This sometimes did not jibe with Gruber's own annotations, such as when he praised Ben Vereen's performance in Jesus Christ Superstar but did not include a featured song for Vereen on the record. There were also curious show inclusions and exclusions. Ambassador, which had a nine-performance run on Broadway, was included, but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Blood Brothers, both Broadway hits, were not. (There was nothing from Phantom of the Opera, either, but that was due to "rights restrictions." Probably for the same reason, the selections from Cats and Sunset Boulevard come not from the cast albums but from a Betty Buckley concert album.) As such, Visitors from Abroad could not claim to be definitive. Still, the generous running time for an album that featured such performers as Beatrice Lillie, Lotte Lenya, Julie Andrews, Anthony Newley, Patti Lupone, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Cole Wilkinson, and others singing songs from such shows as The Boy Friend, Oliver!, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Les Miserables, and Miss Saigon meant that it could claim to be comprehensive.