Monday, September 19, 2011
CD OF THE WEEK: GOOD NEWS!
With music and lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, it’s a reminder of long forgotten times when the aim of a musical was simply to entertain. The show opened in 1927 and return to Broadway in 1974, in a different production that took the action to the 30s. Between those two productions, it got the MGM treatment and became a successful movie in the 40s. In 1993, at The Music Theatre of Whichita, a new revised production returned to the 20s and interpolated other songs by the three-team composer. Fortunately, John Yap recorded it, giving us this exceedingly enjoyable cast recording.
There aren’t big famous names in the cast, but everyone sounds like they were born on the 20s and they make us want to go back in time and have as much fun as they had in those times. I believe that most of the cast was older than their characters, but I don’t care; they sound like the real thing. Among the cast members there’s Ann Morrison (“Merrily We Roll Along”) who as Babe, a “vivacious flapper”, leads the company in the contagious “Varsity Drag” and simply delights with her duets with Wayne Bryan, “Button Up Your Overcoat” and “Never Swat a Fly”. Kim Huber and Michael Gruber are the romantic couple that delivers the lovely “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and alone, Huber sings the beautiful “Just Imagine”. Michael McCormick has a good time as the football trainer and cheers us all with “Keep Your Sunny Side Up”. As the astronomy teacher, Linda Michele teaches her young pupils “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” and I like to agree with her.
The terrific orchestrations by Craig Barna truly evoke the flavor of the 20s and the result is a true party for the heart and soul. So “Down on your heels, Up on your toes, Learn how it goes
Everybody do the varsity drag!”. You won’t regret it!
Sandy Duncan does "The Varsity Drag"