Sunday, July 31, 2011


Probably most people don’t recall this lively score, but if you never heard it I promised you’re in for a treat. This is probably one of the best scores ever written for an English musical and, although I believe the show wouldn’t probably work outside England, the cast recording is a must for every musical fan.

This was Lionel Bart’s follow-up to his famous hit OLIVER! and I confess that I think he came up with a much better score for this musical, with the action taking place in London during World War II. The show ran on the West End for more than two years, the cast album reached the Album Chart of that time where it remained for 21 weeks (something almost impossible to happen with the recent cast recordings) and one the songs, “Far Away”, was a hit in the voice of Shirley Bassey.

When you put this recording on your CD player the first thing you heard are the sirens warning of an air raid over London, followed by the rousing music-hall song “Our Hotel” and the mood is set for an highly enjoyable time. From there to the end there are plenty of songs to keep you entertained like “I Want to Whisper Something”; the beautiful ballad “Far Away”, tenderly sung by Grazina Frame; strong characters songs like “Tell Him – Tell Her” and “Be What You Wanna Be”; a big Broadway kind of number sung by Graham James, “Who Wants to Settle Down?” and a lively wedding song, “Is This Gonna Be a Wedding?”.

Of course the best is “Who’s This Geezer Hitler?”, sung with gusto by the excellent Amelia Bayntun and Company. With a line like “He’s a nasty little basket with a black moustache / And we don’t want him here”, this is another funny Hitler song, almost as good as “Springtime for Hitler”.

Besides Bayntun, who easily steals this recording, there’s also the good Toni Palmer who leads the Company in “Leave It to the Ladies” and the contagious “Down the Lane”, that always made me want to join them. Thomas Kempinski has a great time with the comic war song “Duty Calls” and the sweet voice of Vera Lynn delivers the most touching moment of the score with the nostalgic “The Day After Tomorrow”.

It’s true, the entire cast sounds very British and that may put some of you off, but it wouldn’t work any other way and the end result is a score that should make part of every musical lover CD library.

As for the show, let’s hope that the cast recording will catch the ear of some theatre producer and that one day, in the near future, there will be a big London revival of this show. Until then enjoy the score and let it transport you to another era, you won’t regret it!

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