Broadway Scene Stealers – The Men [Digital Version]
- Disc 1
John Travolta may be the only “household name” on this Masterworks Broadway / Playbill Records release, but those who were lucky enough to catch any of these artists live probably still remember their performances. Such is the case with scene stealers, where actors’ performances are so breathtakingly original that they are permanently etched in our memories.
Perhaps his shock of red hair helped him stand out in a cast that featured Broadway favorites Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleason, but when a young Ben Wright sang of “Giants in the Sky” in Into the Woods, his pure tenor made the exciting, moving Stephen Sondheim lyrics even more touching.
Gypsy may focus on Momma Rose and her two daughters, but for one scene, a young aspiring dancer named Tulsa takes center stage and wows the audience with “All I Need Is the Girl.” The original production of Gypsy was Paul Wallace’s only Broadway gig, but he certainly made his moment in the spotlight count.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ featured a stellar cast that included Nell Carter and Broadway veteran André DeShields. It was DeShields who had the chance to strut his stuff while singing about the pleasures of marijuana in “The Viper’s Drag,” a performance that earned the actor a Drama Desk nomination.
Merrily We Roll Along may have played fewer than seventy performances, but thanks to the original cast recording its tuneful score has long been a favorite of theater lovers. One of the highlights of that Sondheim score, the show-stopping “Franklin Shepard, Inc.,” was delivered by Lonny Price, who would go on to become an acclaimed director.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence may have seemed an odd subject for a musical, but with songs like “Sit Down, John” and “Molasses to Rum,” audiences couldn’t resist 1776. In fact, actor Ronald Holgate, who delivered “The Lees of Old Virginia” to perfection, director Peter Hunt, and the show all won Tony Awards®.
Leonard John Crofoot proved that “Bigger Isn’t Better” when he sang and danced his way into the hearts of audiences in Barnum, which featured Jim Dale in the title role with Glenn Close as his long-suffering wife Charity. As Tom Thumb, Crofoot delivered such witty lyrics as “Bigger isn’t better, Taller isn’t braver, Stronger isn’t always wise. Smaller isn’t necessarily the lesser; Guts can come in any size.”
One of the great moments of Fiddler On the Roof occurs after Tevye consents to allow his daughter Tzeitel to marry Motel Kamzoil, the tailor. In “Miracle of Miracles,” Motel – the role created by veteran actor-director Austin Pendleton – joyously sings of his newfound strength and his road to manhood.
Probably only Cy Coleman could have penned the jazzy, toe-tapping song of seduction “I’ve Got Your Number,” which features lyrics by Carolyn Leigh. Swen Swenson created the role of George Musgrove in the original production of Little Me and performed that song so thrillingly that he won a Theatre World Award and a Tony® nomination.
Frank Loesser’s almost operatic score for “The Most Happy Fella” features a host of beautiful tunes, and one of the finest is “Joey, Joey, Joey,” which was delivered by Art Lund in his rich, soaring baritone.
Every good children’s story needs a hero to root for and a villain to root against, and one of the all-time great evildoers is Peter Pan‘s Captain Hook. Just listen to the way Tony winner Cyril Ritchard revels in Hook’s wicked ways in “Captain Hook’s Waltz.”
Barney Martin is probably remembered best for his work as Jerry Seinfeld’s dad on Seinfeld, but the late Martin also appeared in the original production of Chicago. As put-upon husband Amos Hart, Martin had the chance to stop the show eight times a week with the wonderful ballad “Mr. Cellophane.”
As you will hear, these twelve tracks all have one thing in common – the perfect mix of song and singer.
—Andrew Gans, Senior Editor, Playbill Magazine, January 2007