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Stage to Screen, Vice Versa, and Goodbye



Once there were record stores that specialized in hard to find music. You could talk to an eccentric but encyclopedic savant, ask questions, find treasures, learn more than you already knew, and you knew plenty.  

Tower Records, Coconuts, Sam Goody’s and other monsters put them out of business and what do you know, the MP3 put the monsters out of business. For musical theatre, New York lost Footlights on East 12th Street and The Colony in the legendary Brill Building. Niche guys finish last.

Music goes from cutting edge to current to oldies. The Palm Pilot, Zip Drive, Lotus 123, once shiny objects, are now relics. Beloved 1,000-year-old buildings disappear in the blink of an eye. And on May 31, 2019 BwayTunes fades to black, erased by technology that taught us music is basically free.

But don’t cry for us Ike and Tina. This has been a thrill. The chance to bring a great idea to life. Before BwayTunes, download stores listed cast album credits as “various artists.” Really? So we linked every album to production credits, NY Times Reviews, Sheet Music, Wikipedia. We freed the music from the basement of the 25 million song guys and made it highly searchable. Shoulda won a Grammy.

We gave Andy Propst, Erik Haagensen, Ken Bloom and Billy Rosenfield a platform for their revelatory knowledge and insight. Five years of blog posts curated by Andy that left you really knowing something. Really knowing.

We gave you five years of weekly Free Songs …you’d have 250 of them by now (some music IS free!)

I have to thank my partner in this venture, Erik Hartog, who project managed the build and fixes the site when it crashes (it’s only human) in the middle of the night. Thanks to our investors, particularly the producer Mort Wolkowitz. And of course, thanks to Bernard Gersten who made my theater career at all possible.

And, my goodness, thank you all for playing with us.

Nobody knows what the future holds but audiences will always want to relive shows they saw and catch up on history and ones they missed. So, look out streaming guys. Something's coming, I don't know what it is, But it is gonna be great.

--- Jim Russek

Unfortunately, Ken is on vacation this week, but Erik is here as always to take you on a marvelous trip through stage musicals that have made it to the big screen. What's sort of amazing is that his column spans nearly a hundred years and includes a couple of terrific surprises.

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

  • Bells Are Ringing - This fizzy stage confection charms on the silver screen (and on disc), thanks to both Judy Holliday's beguiling performance and the amusing, tuneful score from Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green. 
  • Comden and Green Perform Their Own Songs  - If you don't know the tunes that Comden and Green wrote with André Previn for the movie It's Always Fair Weather, take a listen to this recording. It's a great introduction to some little-known gems by two of Broadway's finest lyricists. (And even if you do know the score, Comden and Green are always a delight, right?)

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. 

Stage to screen and screen to stage. You'll find tunes that come from stage hits that made it to the movies and ones that have been inspired by films in this week's Spotify playlist. It's an hour of marvelous listening (if I do say so myself). These playlists will live on, on Spotify!

If you've been with us from the start, you've amassed quite a collection of historic, classic, brand new and often, never-before-publicly-available music from our free song downloads. With this week’s free track, our final gift, you'll get an aural excursion into the rehearsal room of the original production of Oklahoma! It's a fantastic track on a new album from Stage Door Records that's dedicated to Alfred Drake's diverse career!

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

  • The Cher Show - Take a tuneful tour through Cher's career and exceptional body of work with this new Broadway cast recording. Of particular note: Stephanie J. Block's incredible take on this legendary singer.
  • The Music of Fosse/Verdon - The FX series about the lives and work of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon has contained some fantastic theater music in its first two episodes, and these tunes have been released on weekly EPs. On the first (link above), you'll find the title song to Cabaret and "Big Spender" from Sweet Charity; on the second, a single track, "Heart," from The Pajama Game.

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.

  • Tina: The Tina Turner Musical - Adrienne Warren garnered raves for her performance in London as this rock-star powerhouse, and now the U.S release (in advance of the show's Broadway bow) allows us all to hear what audiences and critics were cheering.
  • The Jonathan Larson Project - Larson's gift for fusing pop sounds and musical theater ones is well known, thanks to Rent and tick...tick..BOOM! This new album showcases this talent with cut songs from those shows as well as ones from unproduced shows and specialty material.
  • Ain't Too Proud - I hear audiences have been cheering this musical that charts the fortunes of Motown's the Temptations. This cast recording has been released to coincide with the show's recent Broadway opening.
  • Three Points of Contact - Some of Broadway's finest, including Jenn Collela, Gavin Creel, and Lindsay Mendez, have lent their voices to this studio cast recording of a new musical by Ryan Scott Oliver. It's a pretty fantastic listen.
  • Heathers - After an acclaimed and often extended off-Broadway run, Kevin Murphy and Laurence O'Keefe's musical version of the 1989 movie of the same name is taking London by storm. That production's cast album is now available over here!
  • Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical - Also just out is the cast recording of this show that had audiences roaring in its off-Broadway run last season. This one uses a bevy of 90s hits, including "Colorblind," "I Want It That Way," and "Genie in a Bottle," as it transports the story of Les Liaisons Dangereuses to the world of Manhattan prep schools.
  • Mythic - Marcus Stevens and Oran Eldor have brought the Greek gods to marvelous, contemporary life in this new musical. That's delighted audiences in the U.K. and now can works its magic on all of us in the U.S. thanks to this original cast recording.
  • Bella: An American Tall Tale - The Playwrights Horizons cast that deftly delivered Kirsten Childs' comically revisionist look at the mythos of the Old West sounds fantastic on this album, where the music fuses contemporary sounds with traditional Broadway ones and Americana.
  • Company - This gender-swapped production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's 1970 classic has been generating a lot of buzz both in the UK and here. It's promised for Broadway in the not-so-distant future. Take a listen to this new cast album to discover what the excitement's about!
  • Unbreakable - Soloists Britney Coleman, Marcus J. Paige, and Lisa Vroman, along with songwriter Andrew Lippa, join the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus for this exciting new cast album of a show that traverses more than a century of the gay experience in America.
  • Follies - Stephen Sondheim's ravishing score for this 1971 musical sounds pretty incredible on this new recording that preserves last year's highly acclaimed London revival cast (from the Royal National Theatre). It's a marvelous addition to the collection.
  • Songs for a New World - This Jason Robert Brown score gets showcased beautifully on a new album that features the cast that presented the show last summer as part of City's Center's Off-Center seriesWhat's great about this recording is that it comes on two CDs meaning it is longer than any previous release of this much-loved show.
  • Band Geeks: The Musical - You'll find some giddy merriment at work in this tuner that's finally come to disc. A romp through the world of high school marching bands, Band Geeks sets toes a-tappin' and mouths a-smilin' from start to finish.
  • The Dancing Years - A rare treat awaits listeners with this new, complete recording of Ivor Novello and Christopher Hassell's 1939 operetta about a man who's in love with two women. Swirling melodies and gorgeous vocals abound on this beautifully assembled studio cast album.

And now it’s time for me, Andy, to say goodbye.  It's been a great journey, and I've enjoyed sharing the sound of Broadway with you for the past five years. Thanks for being part of it all!


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