Original 1946 Cast

Show Boat [1946 Broadway Revival Cast]

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The success of Oklahoma! in 1943 inaugurated the era of the "integrated" musical, in which the songs contributed to the exposition of the characters and the development of the plot. Oscar Hammerstein II, the lyricist-librettist of Oklahoma!, demonstrated that his earlier work, 1927's Show Boat, was a precursor to this trend by producing that musical's second Broadway revival, which opened for the first of 418 performances on January 5, 1946. The production was co-produced by Hammerstein's musical collaborator on the show, composer Jerome Kern, though Kern had died unexpectedly the previous November. Before his death, he and Hammerstein had written one new song for the show, "Nobody Else but Me," for Jan Clayton (as the lead female character, Magnolia), given its debut on this cast recording. Lavish for its day, the ten-song, 40-minute album (originally released on 12" 78s) contains excellent recordings of the musical's best-known songs, sung by a talented cast. Maybe Carol Bruce (as Julie La Verne, singing "Bill") and Kenneth Spencer (as Joe, singing "Ol' Man River") are not quite the caliber of Helen Morgan and Paul Robeson, who could be heard on the 1932 Broadway revival cast recording, but they are still very good; Colette Lyons, as Ellie, turns in a rendition of "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" that emphasizes its humor, and Clayton and Charles Fredericks (as the male lead character, Gaylord Ravenal) handle "Make Believe," "You Are Love," and "Why Do I Love You?" as well as any two singers ever have. Hammerstein wisely retained Robert Russell Bennett's original orchestrations. The result is a highly successful version of Show Boat that served as many people's introduction to its classic score. (The album was reissued on CD in 1993 using 20-bit mastering with extensive liner notes by reissue producer Didier C. Deutsch.)

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