Monday, August 8, 2016

Cast Album Discoveries: 110 in the Shade

I've been doing a thing where I choose 10 different cast recordings for shows I don't know, add the first song from each to a playlist, and listen to that playlist until I'm ready to swap out some of the songs for the next one in the show. It lets me evaluate each song on its own without everything kind of blending together without dialogue to separate it out.

I just finished getting all the way through my first show for this project (though a second is coming up soon, as I only have two songs left). It was the 1963 musical 110 in the Shade. Most of the musicals I added to this list are very new, but this was a slightly older one I wanted to include. I'll post the Wikipedia plot synopsis here:

Based on Nash's 1954 play The Rainmaker, it focuses on Lizzie Curry, a spinster living on a ranch in the American southwest, and her relationships with local sheriff File, a cautious divorcé who fears being hurt again, and charismatic con man Bill Starbuck, posing as a rainmaker who promises the locals he can bring relief to the drought-stricken area.

The music is by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, best known for The Fantasticks, a musical I like very much. I didn't actually know this was by them until just now, so that was a fun little surprise.

I listened to the original Broadway cast starring Inga Swenson, Robert Horton, and Stephen Douglass. There is a 2007 revival starring Audra McDonald, but that version is not on Spotify, so I listened to the original. Here were my top five favorite songs from the album.

5. A Man and a Woman. There were a lot of songs in this show I was kind of indifferent to, and this is down closer to that spectrum, but I liked it enough that it made it into my top 5. It's a very pretty, sad song about lost love and possible future hope, and is definitely worth a listen for anyone who likes more traditional Broadway ballads.

4. Love, Don't Turn Away. If I'd listened to this show while I was first compiling my Unrequited Love Showtunes CDs, I would've had a great time with it. Of the two songs the show has in this vein, this is the more lighthearted one, a cheerful ditty about all the love she has to share. It's sweet and fun.

3. You're Not Foolin' Me. This song reminds me a lot of The Music Man. It could absolutely have been a song sung between Marian and Harold Hill, and I like it a lot. Both characters call each other out on the lies they're trying to live, and it becomes a great spirited duet between two strong characters.

2. Old Maid. Oh, man. While "Love, Don't Turn Away" is a sweet and fun song about hoping for love, this song is devastating in its hopelessness. The more operatic feel of classic Broadway musicals really suits this song, as it lends an air of theatrical tragedy to it rather than modern teenage angst. The verse about visiting extended family as "poor Aunt Lizzie" is truly heartbreaking.

1. Rain Song. This was the first song in the show that really gripped me, and it stayed one of my favorite. It's the song where Starbuck convinces the town that he can bring them rain within 24 hours if they pay him $100. For another comparison to The Music Man, this is this show's "76 Trombones," starting off with a cool, slinky jazz section and building to a religious revival feel as the whole town starts singing about the expected rain.

Any of you out there familiar with this show? If so, what are your favorite songs?

No comments:

Post a Comment