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By the Decade - The 1950s


This week were throwing one of sporadic backward glances at a particular decade in musical theater history. Ken and Erik are tackling the 1950s, and their lists of favorite shows from the decade include many titles you know and perhaps a few that you don't know or ones that will surprise you.

To complement Erik's and Ken’s columns, I'd like to offer up the following two albums for your consideration: 

  • Bells Are Ringing - Composer Jule Styne and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green were at the height of their game with this 1956 musical that snagged a Tony Award for its star, Judy Holliday. (She bested My Fair Lady nominee Julie Andrews, if you can believe it!)
  • Two on the Aisle - Styne, Comden, and Green started their collaboration in 1951 with this revue that targeted some of the pop cultural, political, and societal topics of the day, including the big Broadway hits that were running as the 1950s dawned.

Remember, if you need to add any of the recordings mentioned here and in the guys' blogs to your collection, you can find links to them in the carousels on the BwayTunes.com homepage. 

Perhaps you'll feel as if you've taken a time machine back some sixty to seventy years with this week's Spotify playlist. It's a heady compilation of tunes from the musicals of the 1950s and encompasses the shows we all know and love, as well as ones we rarely--if ever--think of.

SimG Records has released a cast album for a delightful family-friendly musical, Imaginary. I'm betting you will be charmed by the free download we have for you this week.

Take a look at the marvelously diverse array of new music that we've gotten for you, particularly:

  • Broadway My Way - Heather Headley, Tony winner for Aida, reinterprets such classics as "Over the Rainbow," "Look to the Rainbow," and "Home" on this lush new recording.
  • The Greatest Showman Reimagined - P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles, and Kesha are just some of the artists featured on this album that brings you new versions of the songs from the hit movie that starred Hugh Jackman.

There have also been a host of new holiday albums that have come out in recent weeks, including The Norm Lewis Christmas Album, Steve Ross’ It’s Almost Christmas Eve, Michael Longoria’s Merry Christmas Darling, and Gigi Bermingham’s Cabaret Noël, as well as Telly Leung’s single, “All I Want for Christmas,” which benefits a fantastic nonprofit, ASTEP.

In addition to these albums, you’ll want to check out these new releases, which can be found in the main carousel at the top of the home page and in the “New and Recommended” one at the bottom of the page.

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Imogen Heap's Drama Desk Award winning score for the epic theatrical adventure featuring J.K. Rowling's renowned boy wizard has been marvelously transformed into four suites for this new recording. 
  • Will He Like Me? - Philip Chaffin lends his voice to over a dozen classic Broadway tunes and, in the process, creates a moving song cycle.
  • Singing You Home - Conceived by Laura Benanti, and featuring artists such as Josh Groban, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Audra McDonald, this bi-lingual children's album is a fundraiser for a very worthy cause. Proceeds from the album sales will go directly to the non-profit organizations RAICES and ASTEP to help reunite and support families separated at the border.
  • Twelfth Night - Songwriter Shaina Taub's songs for the Public Theater's recent production of Shakespeare's romance got some terrific reviews. The production had a very short run, so we're lucky to have this album that allows all of us who missed it to enjoy Taub's exceptional tunefulness.
  • Head Over Heels - The Go-Go's hits from the early 1980s meet an obscure Renaissance narrative poem in this merry lark of a Broadway musical. It's a giddy and toe-tapping retro listen.
  • Idina: Live - Broadway's original Elphaba, Idina Menzel, sounds pretty fantastic on this recording that features some pop classics and some great musical theater tunes, including a number from the tuners she has starred in.
  • Pretty Woman - The first hit of the new 2018-2019 season is this musical based on the popular 1990 movie. Andy Karl and Samantha Barks tackle the roles originally played by Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, and the infectious score comes from Brian Adams and Jim Wallace. Definitely worth a listen!
  • Gettin' the Band Back Together - There's a gleeful rock sound at work in this Broadway cast recording. It's an album that's full of some unexpected pleasures.
  • Hundred Days - The Bengsons’ quirky off-Broadway show comes to compact disc with verve on this new cast recording!

By the time you get our next newsletter we will be a week in December and the holiday season will be underway in earnest.

I've asked Erik and Ken to come up with something season. I've just left it there. They're both clever fellows, so I'm sure they will rise to that vagueness beautifully.

To get a jump-start on all things seasonal, I'll point you toward the just-released It's Almost Christmas Eve, featuring marvelous vocals from cabaret's Steve Ross, along with Suellen Estry, Benjamin Weil, and Ron Spivak.

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