In the 1950s, with the Hollywood studio system in decline, a lot of movie talents looked east to Broadway for stage vehicles. That probably explains the existence of the 1955 musical Seventh Heaven. The property itself had begun life as a straight play in 1922, with a story set in Paris during World War I about two lower-class lovers. Then there was a 1927 silent film adaptation that won Janet Gaynor the first Oscar for a leading actress, followed by a 1937 remake. The composer attached to the musical version was Victor Young, a busy film scorer near the end of his career (he would die in 1956) who nevertheless managed to do the scores for six films the same year he did Seventh Heaven. The stars were two medium-level former MGM contract players whose work had included movie musicals (but who had never appeared on Broadway before), Gloria DeHaven, who at the advanced age of 30, was washed up as an ingénue in Hollywood, and Ricardo Montalban, who, at 34, was in his prime as a Latin lover. The rest of the cast was filled out with sturdy stage talent, including Robert Clary, Kurt Kasznar, and Beatrice (later Bea) Arthur (the latter two not heard on the cast album). And Chita Rivera, after years of chorus work, was moving up to her first featured part. Opening May 26, 1955, Seventh Heaven was the final show of the 1954-1955 season, and it never had a chance to find an audience, closing after 44 performances on July 2. The cast album reveals the performers to be talented, particularly Clary, who has three big, lively numbers. But it also reveals one possible reason for the show's failure, a pedestrian score. Young's movie credentials are referenced in the instrumental "Chico's Reverie," which sounds like it came from one of his films. But his songs are only adequate, and stage veteran Stella Unger's lyrics don't lift them out of mediocrity. As a result, Seventh Heaven is a minor effort that will be of interest only to completists who follow the careers of Rivera, Clary, or any of the other principals.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Robert Clary
feat: Robert Clary