Gertrude Lawrence

Star Quality

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AEI's Gertrude Lawrence collection Star Quality consists of rare, non-commercial recordings by the stage star, most of which seem to derive from radio transcriptions. They include not only musical performances but also dramatic recitations, such as the five-minute "La Voix Humaine" and "Scene from Private Lives." In the latter, Lawrence performs with an unidentified actor playing the part of her husband, and her other fellow performers also go without credit for the most part throughout the album. (Who are the actors heard in "Joining Charlot's Revue," which seems to be a dramatization of Lawrence's own life?) Noël Coward is named as her partner on the comic "Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?," drawn from the Red Peppers section of his play cycle Tonight at 8:30, but he is an exception. The sound quality ranges from good to poor, rarely reaching commercial quality even for vintage recordings. But the album does give a sense of the range of Lawrence's work, from her dramatic efforts to saucy musical numbers like "I Don't Know" and on to her big Broadway musical turns in Lady in the Dark and The King and I. It is not the collection to start with for those interested in the performer, but theater buffs already well acquainted with Lawrence should enjoy it.