At first glance, the musicals Wedding in Paris and Can-Can seem to share one characteristic that makes them an appropriate pairing on a single CD: Paris. Actually, however, while Can-Can, with a score by Cole Porter, is set in Paris, Wedding in Paris, which features songs by composer Hans May and lyricist Sonny Miller, takes place on a liner crossing the Atlantic to France. The more important factor that the two shows have in common is that both were produced in London in 1954, Can-Can following a successful Broadway opening, while Wedding in Paris originated in the West End. The date is especially important because, 50 years later, the original London cast recordings for the two shows fell out of copyright in Europe, and Sepia Records stepped in quickly to assemble this unlicensed reissue. As Rexton S. Bunnett acknowledges in his liner notes, only half of the score of Wedding in Paris was recorded, eight tracks with a running time of less than 27 minutes. The British Can-Can had all of its principal songs put on disc, but in abbreviated form; its 13 tracks here clock in at just over 29 minutes. (The CD is filled out to 78 minutes by including medleys of the music from Wedding in Paris and a few stray singles by performers from the casts.) There are also certain musical similarities that make the two sets of recordings a good match. May, an expatriate Viennese living in London, is, not surprisingly, more interested in writing waltz music than Porter, but Miller gives him some witty lyrics in songs such as "A Man Is a Man" and "Strike Another Match" that offer some competition to Porter's characteristically clever sense of wordplay. For his part, Porter turns in some memorable melodies in Can-Can, notably "C'est Magnifique," "It's All Right with Me," and "I Love Paris." And he benefits from the casting of Irene Hilda in the main role of Pistache, who makes a better impression than Lilo did on the original Broadway cast album. Evelyn Laye also impresses in Wedding in Paris, even though she is hamstrung by the elimination of several of her key songs from the recording. This is material that has been out of print for a long time, and Sepia has done an excellent job of putting together a package that shows it off to advantage.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
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