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25 Cast Recordings Released as “Broadway in a Box”

September 27th, 2012

Broadway in a Box. Image via Amazon.

Santa can close up the workshop because I know what I want under my tree this Christmas. (And, no, it isn’t Jonathan Groff in a festive holiday sweater…that’s my stocking stuffer.)

Masterworks Broadway (a label of Sony Masterworks) has put together a collection of 25 Original Broadway Cast recordings, Broadway in a Box: The Essential Broadway Musicals Collection. Each disc comes in a mini-sleeve with the original art and there’s a 64 page companion booklet that includes info and photos on each show. Plus, the press release says that there are extras like alternate lyric recordings, songs cut during out of town tryouts and demo versions by the composers themselves. Lock me in a room for month because I need to dive into this (Groff and his sweater can keep me company and bring me refreshments).

Let’s look at the line-up — and begin the debate about what they’re missing:

"Anything Goes". Image via Amazon.

1.    Annie (Original Broadway Cast)
2.    Anything Goes (1987 Lincoln Center Theater Cast)
3.    Cabaret (Original Broadway Cast)
4.    Camelot (Original Broadway Cast)
5.    Carousel (1965 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Cast)
6.    Chicago (Original Broadway Cast)
7.    A Chorus Line (Original Broadway Cast)
8.    Company (Original Broadway Cast)
9.    Fiddler on the Roof (Original Broadway Cast)
10.  Guys and Dolls (1992 Broadway Cast)
11.  Gypsy (Original Broadway Cast)
12.  Hair (Original Broadway Cast)
13.  Hello, Dolly! (Original Broadway Cast)
14.  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Original Broadway Cast)

"Into the Woods". Image via Amazon.

15.  Into the Woods (Original Broadway Cast)
16.  The King & I (1964 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Cast)
17.  Man of La Mancha (2002 Broadway Cast)
18.  My Fair Lady (Original Broadway Cast)
19.  Oklahoma! (1979 Broadway Cast)
20.  Oliver! (Original Broadway Cast)
21.  Show Boat (1966 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Cast)
22.  The Sound of Music (Original Broadway Cast)
23.  South Pacific (Original Broadway Cast)
24.  Sweeney Todd (Highlights) (Original Broadway Cast)
25.  West Side Story (Original Broadway Cast)

Pros:  It’s hard to quibble with a set that covers most of the truly influential shows in history…West Side, Gypsy, Cabaret, Show Boat, Company…this IS music theater royalty. If you have a budding show queen in the house, this is basically giving them the golden ticket to obsession land. Even for an old-timer like me, it’s a pretty special set covering lots of original cast recordings from golden age shows that I never purchased.

Cons:  It don’t see anything from the last 20 years, which certainly limits the sweep (no Next to Normal or Spring Awakening to represent current trends) and nothing from the British mega-musical age to represent some of the longest running hits of all time (no Phantom or Les Miz).  I worry a bit about the La Mancha and Oklahoma revival recordings but perhaps they would surprise.  And, like many of the early recordings which will feature only a small percentage of the full score, a “highlights” disc from my favorite show of all time Sweeney Todd…well, you can’t have it all.

What do you think?  Which score do you wish was included and which one would you trade out?  [I’ll start: in goes Ragtime, out goes Oliver.]

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