Various Artists

The Original Cast! 100 Years of the American Musical Theater, Vol. 2

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Producer Paul Gruber points out in his liner notes to the second volume of the Metropolitan Opera Guild's series of Broadway compilation albums that, unlike the first half of the 1950s, which "produced only two shows that outlived their time, Guys And Dolls and The King And I," the second half produced at least half a dozen. Selections from each of those theatrical landmarks -- The Most Happy Fella, West Side Story, The Music Man, Gypsy, The Sound Of Music, and My Fair Lady -- make up 16 of the 41 tracks on this double-CD, and the rest is filled out with other estimable shows, including Candide, Damn Yankees, Bells Are Ringing, Flower Drum Song, Fiorello, and Juno, plus notable songs from the more interesting flops of the era. Performers include Gwen Verdon, Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Jo Sullivan, Judy Holliday, Ethel Merman, Robert Preston, Barbara Cook, Chita Rivera, Richard Kiley, and Mary Martin. In other words, this album contains the real jewels of the golden age of Broadway, and since each selection is annotated, you will know where to go to get the complete albums from each of the shows represented. On its own, the album effectively paints a portrait of the period.