Monday, November 19, 2007

Album Droppings: TV Musicals

Two of the first vinyl albums which I converted to digital format were soundtracks for musicals presented on television. Hard to imagine these days, but back in the 50s and 60s, the major networks occasionally presented large scale Broadway-style musicals on the small screen.

Everybody knows all about Rogers and Hammerstein creating "Cinderella" for TV, starring Julie Andrews, and as the step-sisters, Kaye Ballard and the late great Alice Ghostly. Everybody also knows all about the perennial Mary Martin starrer, "Peter Pan," which was a moderate Broadway success, but which became a national triumph on TV.

But not many people know that Cole Porter also created a show specifically for television. "Aladdin" starred a young (get this) Sal Mineo, who thankfully was not required to sing much. The score was instead placed in the seasoned hands of Cyril Ritchard, Basil Rathbone, and Anna Maria Alberghetti. As I recorded the album onto my computer, I could recognize that the highlight of this Porter score was the hilarious patter song which opened the show, "Come to the Supermarket," sung by Cyril Ritchard as "the Magician":
"If you want to buy a saw,
Or a fish delicious when it's raw,
Or a pill to kill your mother-in-law,
Or a cloak inclined to cling,

Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking!"

(I guess this version of "Aladdin" was placed in China, though how the hell Sal Mineo ended up in it is anybody's guess...)
The second TV Musical soundtrack which I converted was "Brigadoon," starring Robert Goulet and Sally Anne Howes. The album severely abridges the original score ( I guess the TV show did too), but I purchased the recording primarily because I appeared in the show at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre several years ago. Soft place in the heart and all that. In this TV version, Peter Falk played the role I played at SSMT.

(That's me, not Peter Falk)

I guess in light of Goulet's recent demise, it should be noted that nobody ever sang these gorgeous tunes better. Or, from the sound of the album, was more boring doing it.

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