31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 1998
This fabulous stereo sound spectacular recreates the 1944 show (a first for Bernstein, Robbins, Comden and Green) in all of its glory. The orchestra is extraordinary and the performers are exceptional, both vocally and dramatically. The cuts I UNDERSTAND and DO RE DO originally did not fit on the LP release. The latter was "squeezed" onto the LP re-issue when the show was revived with Bernadette Peters. Finally the CD gives us all the music. This is one of the all time great cast album recreations. The movie is a Gene Kelly film and only contains three songs from the show (the score was scrapped to make way for Kelly dances and new songs - all mediocre). Only a few years ago Michael Tilson Thomas did a studio cast recreation with Frederica Von Stade, Tyne Daly, Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey that was almost as good as this one. Did it go out of CD print in just a few years? It shouldn't have. Keep an eye out for the cast album of the new Broadway revival - comparisons are sure to be made. Don't miss adding the 1960 recording to your collection.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2001
Actually, this is not an "original cast recording." True, it features four of the people who were in the original 1944 production of the show (Nancy Walker, Cris Alexander, and Betty Comden and Adoplh Green, who were also making their Broadway debuts as lyricists/librettists with this show), but this recording was done in a studio in 1960, with John Reardon substituting for John Battles, the original Gabey, and other studio substitutes in the supporting roles. (The show never had an official original cast recording, although Walker, Comden and Greend did singles of their numbers in the 40s)...THe orchestrations are great; the orchestra is conducted by Bernstein himself, and Bernstein even appears on the recording as the carnival barker Rajah Bibbe in the final dance sequence. Unfortunately, though this show had a respectable run originally, several revivals (Including one with Bernadette Peters as Hildy) have failed, and it's cheifly known today through the 1949 MGM film with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, which is highly entertaining in its own right but cut all but three of the songs from the original score. SOngs such as "Lonely Town," "Do DO Re Do," "Lucky TO be Me," the dazzling "I Can Cook, Too," "Ya Got Me," and the suprisingly sentimental and haunting "Some OTher TIme" did not deserve this fate. The score may be dated, but it is still Broadway at its brassiest and most exciting, and you need look no further than this recording to see why.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The original Broadway production of ON THE TOWN, when it premiered, curiously went unrecorded. This recording, done about 10 years later, reunites the original cast of Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Nancy Walker and Cris Alexander, with John Reardon standing in for John Battles.
Saul Chaplin, the arranger for the film version, said he preferred the Broadway score to the film score, and most people agree with him, myself included.
Arthur Freed, who produced the movie, said the Broadway songs were "too sophisticated" for movie audiences, and that a new score had to be written, really only retaining "Let's Go To My Place" and the Pas de Deux.
Among the gems you will find here are "Carried Away", "Lucky To Be Me", "Ya Got Me" and the wistful "Some Other Time" which candidly speaks of the fact that the three sailors might not return from the warfront.
The Overture has been added, along with some of the dance numbers.
This is a great version to have for purists of the score.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2002
An expansion of Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins' early 1944 ballet hit "Fancy Free," "On the Town" launched careers of Bernstein, Robbins and writers Adolphe Comden and Betty Green (who also starred in it) on the Great White Way in December 1944. Truncated versions of some Broadway shows had started appearing (notably "Oklahoma!") then, but owing to various problems, possibly contractual, a major recording of the "On the Town" score wasn't attempted then. And it's just as well. There's SO much music - in addition to the songs, Bernstein's extended jazz and bluesy ballet numbers simply couldn't have been set down on short 78s. Luckily, most of the original principal reassembled for this belated cast recording, in fine stereo, in 1960. Even then, some material had to be shortened and one number ("I Understand"), though recorded, was dropped completely. The first CD version reinstated that cut (mournfully sung by the late George Gaynes of "Police Academy" films). The remastered CD now includes the overture (in a performance conducted by Lehman Engel) and the short suite of three dance numbers Bernstein recorded in 1963 with his New York Philharmonic (which are fine but a bit stodgy, as was Bernstein's recording of "Fancy Free" done about the same time.) What's thrilling about THIS recording is the energy of it all. The high spirits are contagious and the rollicking fun of it fairly spills out of your speakers. Although nearly 20 years older than when they first appeared in the roles, the cast members have a joyful reunion that celebrates not only the show and the start of their fabulous careers but a shining moment in both American history and American musical theater.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2001
...Walker, Comden and Green did singles of their numbers in the 40s) Leonard Bernstein also makes his Broadway debut as a composer with this show (Jerome Robbins also did his first Broadway choreography in the original production), and while he includes his trademark classical and symphonic elements in the ballet and dance music, his music for the songs (And even some of the ballets) is "Broadway" all the way: energetic, brassy, tuneful, and always lectrifying. Yes, the man must've been a genius, because these two very different types of music coexist incredibly well together in this score. Likewise, Comden and Green's lyrics are just as brilliantly hilarious (if somewhat dated) as their later works are. The story of the show is rather simple - three sailors get one day's shore leave in New York, New York (as in a helluva town) for just one day and find fun, adventure, and romance. The cast is great. Walker easily steals the recording (and undoubtedly stole the original show) as Hildy, the amorous taxi driver who lands one of the sailors. Cris Alexander, as the sailor she lands, even though he'd rather be a tourist than a lover, is appealing. Green, as another of the sailors, and Comden, as a sex-starved anthropologist he meets up with, are delightful. Reardon sings beautifully as Gabey, the third sailor, who spends most of the day looking for a girl on a subway poster that he's fallen in love with. The orchestrations are great...
(PS- I should have also mentioned, in my list of songs that shouldn't have been cut from the film, the hilariously depressing "I'm Blue," sung by a somewhat overemotional singer in a nightclub before Hildy and company push her offstage to express their devotion to the depressed Gabey in the jazzy "Ya GOt Me." Every time I hear this singer's overwrought, nasally version of the song, I crack up)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 1998
I'm a music reviewer and have CDs by the cubic yard. There's one album I always keep handy and that's this recording of Bernstein's Broadway musical, "On the Town," a musical mis-adventure of 3 sailors on leave in New York City during the war.
The show opened in 1944, but the passage of time has made the show even more endearing, with anachronisms piled on anacronisms. The innocent Chip sets about to see every site in New York City (the Hippodrome and others, most of which are already ancient history) and is oblivious to the armous attentions of Hildy the taxi driver, played by comedienne Nancy Walker. She brushes off his desires to see the Woolworth Tower with demands to "Come up to My Place."
The main plot revolves around the heartsick Gabey, who falls for Ivey Smith, "Miss Turnstiles--for June!" Three of the world's most overlooked lovesongs are hidden in this musical: Gabey's "Lonely Town" (sung by John Reardon), "Lucky to be Me" (Reardon), and "Some Other Time" (sung by the ensemble as their leave time runs out).
Lyricists/performers Betty Comden and Adolph Green Ozzie and Claire (an anthrolopogist), an unlikely match who both "get carried away." Those into self improvement and psychological blaming will chuckle at "I Understand," sung by George Gaynes. Another small comic bit is the nightclub singer's dreary "I'm Blue"; this song would drive anyone to suicide.
When you think that Bernstein's music, as original as "West Side Story," came out during World War II...well, being at the opening must have been an explosive experience.
The liner notes are extensive, with photos and stories about rehearsals and opening night. If you get this album, you'll find yourself singing along in no time. Has it ever been filmed? Yes...you can find a video starring Gene Kelly, but they sugar coated the musical. It deserves a new and gutsy filming.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 1999
I've had this recording on vinyl, and played it so much I've worn it out. This is one of the most energetic, witty, and melodic group of songs ever assembled for a musical, and I doubt anyone with a heartbeat will be able to resist dancing to them, too. "I Can Cook Too" probably contains more double entendres per stanza than any song, "We'll Catch Up Some Other Time" is a wonderful ballad, "Do Do Re Do" is just hilarious, and there is more comedic genius in the lyrics of these songs than there is in a year's worth of TV sitcoms. It's one of the musicals I can listen to that doesn't sound like a movie parody (as in "The Producers" and "The Tall Guy"), which most from the last 20 years do. One of my all time favorites
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2006
This is a thrilling recording with respect to the performances, the writing, and the exceptional sound. The bonus track of the overture brings up the name of Lehman Engel, the Broadway pit conductor and vocal arranger who always put his considerable enthusiasm into all of his projects. It was Mr. Engel, working with Goddard Lieberson of Columbia Records, who came up with the idea of recording the score of ON THE TOWN with many of the original members of the Broadway Cast. In his wonderful autobiography THIS BRIGHT DAY Lehman Engel recollects Leonard Bernstein calling him and saying "Oh, don't hate me, but it's my baby, and I would so like to do it myself." Mr. Bernstein ended up conducting ON THE TOWN and the result is wonderful, although it probably would have been great with Lehman Engel conducting as well.
One of the great aspects of this recording is the inclusion of all the ballet musical sequences, so often excluded from the vast majority of Broadway Cast albums.Grab this one!!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2002
Truly Broadway's best! From the composition to the orchestration to the performances...this recording is an exceptional tribute to the fact that "they don't make 'em like that anymore!" This might be the perfect Broadway musical...or arguably in the top 5! Teach your kids, learn the lyrics, spread the word... everything that's good about American musical theatre can be found here!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2007
People who have seen the botched MGM film of "On the Town" are in for a surprise. This 1960 album contains most of the original Bernstein-Comden-Green songs and dances from the 1944 play.
With the the original orchestrations and lyrics, the songs burst out in joy, humor and a tinge of sadness.
Leonard Bernstein's jazzy arrangements, which were cut to shreds in the film, are presented here alive and spirited.
Columbia Records assembled most of the principals who appeared in the play: Nancy Walker (Hildy, the taxi driver), Adolph Green (Ozzie, a sailor), Betty Comden (Claire, the anthropologist) and Chris Alexander (Chip, a sailor who's being pursued by Hildy). Baritone John Reardon substitutes for John Battles in the role of Gabey, one of the three sailors.
Among my favorite songs are "Carried Away," which takes place in a museum setting and establishes a common bond between Claire and Ozzie ; "Lucky to Be Me," a pop standard that Gabey sings as he awaits his date; "Ya Got Me," a propulsive, exuberant song with a Latin beat that the gang sings to a downcast Gabey at a nightclub; and, perhaps the best of the lot, "Some Other Time," a poignant number that Claire (Betty Comden), joined by Hildy and others in a beautiful vocal arrangement, sing as the sailors' leave comes to an end. (There are about two dozen versions of this song currently in print. And MGM should be ashamed for omitting it.)
The album also includes Leonard Bernstein's ballet numbers (there were five in the play). In the film version, themes from the ballets were incorporated in the dance "A Day in New York."