Shirley Jones

Speaking of Love

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Shirley Jones, the young star of the Rodgers & Hammerstein movie musicals Oklahoma! and Carousel, married Jack Cassidy, the Broadway stage musical performer whose featured appearances included Wish You Were Here and Shangri-La, on August 5, 1956, and the following year the couple released this LP of songs from musicals and operettas that had played in New York and London between 1905 ("Kiss Me Again" from Victor Herbert's Mlle. Modiste) and 1934 ("I'll Follow My Secret Heart" from Noel Coward's Conversation Piece). By 1957, such material, the work of composers like Rudolf Friml, Jerome Kern, and Sigmund Romberg, was out of date on stage and film, but Jones and Cassidy applied their trained voices -- Jones' pure soprano, Cassidy's soaring tenor -- to it with sincerity and fervor, and Percy Faith gave them an accompaniment to support their best efforts. They didn't quite bring back the age of the operetta, but they showed that it could have a contemporary meaning, especially in its romantic sentiments. Cassidy soloed brilliantly on Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's "The Song Is You" from Music in the Air, taking the title back from such pop craftsmen as Frank Sinatra, and Jones had her way with Herbert and B.G. DeSylva's "A Kiss in the Dark" from Orange Blossoms. But the rest of the tracks were duets, and the couple's real-life romance turned Kern and Hammerstein's "You Are Love" from Show Boat and Romberg and Hammerstein's "Lover, Come Back to Me!" from New Moon into impassioned musical statements. The interpretations bordered on classical music rather than pop, but they also brought new life to a virtually moribund form.

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