Musical Theatre in America: Papers and Proceedings of the Conference on the Musical Theatre in America

By Glenn Loney | Go to book overview

PRESERVING THE HERITAGE: THE AURAL RECORD

J. Peter Bergman, Moderator

Ben Bagley, Stanley Green, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Thomas Z. Shepard, Martin Williams, Panelists

Author and expert J. Peter Bergman, as coordinator and chairman, introduced the panelists, noting that all aspects of creating original cast recordings of Broadway shows would be considered, including that of performance, since one of the speakers would be actress-singer Jo Sullivan, who is also the widow of composer Frank Loesser. Others on the panel included Martin Williams of the Smithsonian Institution, responsible for their jazz recordings and archival reconstructions of American musicals on records; Thomas Z. Shepard, producer of original Broadway musical recordings, working at RCA; Ben Bagley, creator of the Shoestring Revues and producer of recordings of show songs on the Painted Smiles label; and Stanley Green, author of major books on the American musical and researcher/writer of album liner notes for some memorable show recordings.

In making his introductions, Bergman also provided an "Overture" to the discussion topics. He began by emphasizing the difference between an original cast recording, and an original cast album. An album, Bergman said, is a collection of recordings by various artists in the show. Thus, the 1941 Victor recording of Gertrude Lawrence singing songs from Lady in the Dark, released as an album, is technically a collection of original cast recordings. Oklahoma!, a 1943 Decca issue, has the distinction of being the first original cast recording, but it's really the first original cast album. The history of musical cast recordings, Bergman said, dates back to the 1890s, and he credited the British for beginning to record theatre performances.

As early as 1894, musical successes of Lionel Monckton and Ivan Caryll were being preserved on wax. In 1900, the first English recording of an American musical appeared. MarieGeorge

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