There are times when it's best to let some shows sleep peacefully rather than waking them up with a revival. This is the case with Vincent Youmans' Through the Years. This musical with a book by Brian Hooker is about events leading up to the heroine's murder on her wedding day. Not the kind of fare needed to cheer people up, especially in 1932 with the Great Depression still with us. But more than that, this is not the Vincent Youmans of such other of his musicals as Hit the Deck and No No Nanette. Nor is it the Youmans who collaborated on hits as "Time on My Hands," "Tea for Two," and "Without a Song." The Broadway audiences of that day agreed this was not first-rate stuff, and despite surgical efforts to improve it, the musical closed in 20 days, never to be heard again until this 2001 studio performance. The cast is extraordinarily talented, and that is the one redeeming value for this CD. Heidi Grant Murphy, Philip Chaffin, Hunter Foster, Jennifer Cody, and Brent Barrett, accompanied by excellent instrumentalists, play Rumpelstiltskin striving mightily to weave straw into gold. But as good as they are, except for the two familiar tunes from the musical, "Drums in My Heart" and "Through the Years," the latter beguilingly sung by Murphy, the cast never quite pulls it off. Get this one for the fine performances, not because the music is memorable. Next time out, though, veteran producer Tommy Krasker might consider giving them something more substantial to chew on.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan