Here’s Harbinger’s Grammy Award-winning recording of Shuffle Along featuring the show’s composers, Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, as well as members of the original cast exactly as heard on Broadway in 1921 though many of the cuts were recorded by the composers in 1950, making the sound exemplary.
Shuffle Along, was the most successful Broadway show of its time. The score contained the future standards “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and “Love Will Find a Way.” It marked the emergence of a new black musical theatre. It desegregated theatres in New York and across the country, the first time blacks and whites could sit together in a theatre.
The show transformed Broadway. Business was so good that three weeks into the run the company cancelled the Wednesday matinees and added Wednesday midnight performances that were heavily attended by theatrical folk. A few weeks later, all the matinees were cancelled. Shuffle Along soon grew into the most successful show playing on Broadway with a weekly gross averaging $13,000 a week against $7,500 in weekly expenses (once the show was a verified smash the top ticket price was raised to $3.00). Shuffle Along finally closed after playing 504 performances, an astounding run at the time. It was so successful that the 63rd Street, where the show played, was made into a one-way street to alleviate the traffic jams along Broadway and Central Park West.
This is the only available recording of Shuffle Along’s jazzy score. And the Grammy Award-winning liner notes by Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin give the full history of the show and the recordings.
It’s a must for all fans of musical theatre, jazz aficionados who will thrill at authentic 1920s jazz, and anyone interested in the amazing history of black musicals at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Click HERE to purchase now!
We at The Musical Theater Project/Harbinger Records mourn the
passing of a dear friend: composer and arranger JOHN MORRIS.
Though best known as Mel Brooks’s composer of choice, John had a significant Broadway career as a dance music arranger (Bells Are Ringing, Bye Bye Birdie and lots more) and wrote the music for A Time for Singing.
We are proud to include many of his performances as pianist/arranger on the classic Walden Records albums from the 1950s, now available on the Harbinger label. Listen to John play Gershwin or Rodgers: Scintillating!
Click HERE to read his full obituary printed in the New York Times.
Want a taste of what to expect from our January concert, The Gershwins in Hollywood? TMTP artistic director talks with Gershwin historian Deena Rosenberg on our radio program Footlight Parade. In this excerpt, Rosenberg deconstructs the beloved tune, "They Can't Take That Away From Me", made famous by Fred Astaire in the film Shall We Dance.
A SPECIAL TMTP MEMBERS EVENT
"Good evening, and welcome to Musicarnival!" If you remember producer Johnny Price greeting you with those words at his summer tent theater in Warrensville Heights in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, you'll want to stroll down memory lane during this lively evening. If Musicarnival is new to you, don't miss this chance to learn more!
Bill Rudman will host the program with Johnny's daughter Diana Price, who will share her Musicarnival recollections. Bill and his team recently completed restoration of the Musicarnival Audio Archives -- full-length, live recordings of more than 100 classic musicals such as Oklahoma!, Show Boat, Gypsy and Guys & Dolls. See you there -- at a beautiful library that's just down the road from the site of Johnny's tent.
RSVP by February 5th
Call (216) 860-1518 or email info@MusicalTheaterProject.org
“Try to Remember” a time when Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt weren’t doing exciting work in our musical theater. As all of us in a packed house heard on Monday, you’d have to go back even further than “The Fantasticks” to their work for revues in the late 1950s, and even to a college musical they wrote at the University of Texas in 1951.
What a privilege for me to be at this benefit for The York Theater, and to hear the team’s great songs knowing that Harvey is still playing the piano every day at 88, and Tom is working on a new musical at 89. The award show itself was star-studded with far many names for me to drop here. But let me just mention Susan Watson (the very first Luisa at Barnard College, and the original Kim McAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie"), Rita Gardner (technically the second Luisa when “The Fantasticks” opened Off Broadway), and the First Ladies of the American Musical, Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford — still “getting their act together” brilliantly in a 60-year-partnership. I’m so proud to be producing a Jones & Schmidt two-CD retrospective on J&S created with the full participation (and passion) of the team. -- Bill Rudman, TMTP artistic director
Jones & Schmidt: Hidden Treasures, 1951-2001 is due for release in June 2018. This 2-CD set features nearly 50 songs from musicals including The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade, I Do, I Do, Celebration and more. Hear rare recordings, demos and cut recordings from Broadway talent like Liz Callaway and Dick Latessa. This collector's item comes with a deluxe 64-page color booklet with liner notes from Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt.
"HO-HO-HO!" A Christmas Cabaret is back and better than ever. But don't take our word for it. Here's Brendan Ring of Nighttown spreading the joy in this vintage-style holiday commercial.
75 Years Old, Oklahoma! is still a Beautiful Mornin’
Can it be true? Is Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first masterpiece, Oklahoma!, really approaching its 75th anniversary? The answer is Yes, and on October 14 and 15, TMTP will mark the occasion with a special concert celebrating a true milestone in musical theater.
In our concert “The Impact of Oklahoma!,” we’ll perform all of the songs from the treasured score and share the fascinating story of the musical’s creation in 1942-43. Bill Rudman and Nancy Maier co-host, with Joe Monaghan singing the role of Curly, Lindsey Sandham Leonard singing Laurey, Shane Patrick O’Neill singing Will Parker, Ursula Cataan singing Ado Annie and Fabio Polanco singing Jud.
In July, Bill talked with Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, about a musical that is still produced somewhere in the world every day.
BR: Ted, you and I have been friends ever since you took the reins at R&H back in 1981, and for many years I’ve been curious: How many productions of this show do you think you’ve seen?
TC: Oh, at least 30. And not just in New York and London, but a European tour and shows all over this country including, as you might expect, a production in Oklahoma.
BR: I assume that TMTP is by no means the only company exploring it these days.
TC: No, everyone wants to come to the birthday party. Right now there are new productions at Goodspeed Musicals! in Connecticut, and at the renowned Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York. And as we get closer to the actual Broadway opening—March 31, 1943—there will be a bright golden haze on lots more meadows.
BR: Can I put you on the spot? Do you have a favorite production?
TC: I do. In 1998, when Trevor Nunn’s production, starring Hugh Jackman, opened in London.
BR: That surprises me, because Nunn is a Brit. Here we have one of the quintessential “Americana” musicals.
TC: Yes, and I remember that when he came in to seek the rights from me, he quoted Aunt Eller: “I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else, but I’ll be damned if I ain’t just as good.” And he was. What Trevor did so well was tell a story that’s universal. He dove into the text, knowing that although this is a fun piece, it’s not a frivolous one.
BR: It’s kind of incredible that with this, their very first show—their first collaboration—R&H created the longest-running musical up to that time.
TC: For one thing, they tapped into our country’s psyche during World War II. We were just 16 months into the war when Oklahoma! opened, and the show made a deep impression on Americans, reminding us of what we were fighting to protect. But there’s also a freshness about this piece that remains extraordinary. Laurey and Curly are youthful, yes—but the whole show has that quality. It’s as though the two still-young authors were holding hands, hesitating, deciding whether or not to go out on the dance floor. As we know, they danced together for the next 16 years.
BR: Do you have any favorite moments from this musical?
TC: The song “All Er Nuthin’ ” always delights me. And of course, “Surrey,” which is such a wonderful song to act because it’s about so much more than a horse and buggy. And the scene in the smokehouse, which seems to come out of nowhere, thrillingly ratchets up the character of Curly as he confronts Jud.
BR: How do you like the 1955 film version?
TC: It ages well. It’s a bit stagey, but it’s interestingly directed by Fred Zinnemann, and Shirley Jones and Gordon McRae are perfectly fine.
BR: Whenever we talk, I feel I know Richard Rodgers because you knew his daughter Mary so well.
TC: She had some great stories about seeing the original production when she was 12. The morning after Oklahoma! opened, she asked her mother, “Who’s more famous? Irving Berlin or Daddy?” Mother Dorothy replied: “Before last night, Mr. Berlin. Now
it’s your father.” Mary was a superb critic. When she saw Molly Smith’s production with me at Arena Stage, she marveled at how good Hammerstein’s script is. And she was totally connected to her father’s music: At Trevor Nunn’s production, she identified an errant note in the title song—a D-flat instead of a D—which I can assure you was corrected the next day!
BR: Why should we be interested in this musical 75 years later?
TC: Because the characters are examined as carefully as they would be in a play; there are timeless principles of craftsmanship in this work. And because these characters are going through things we all go through. It’s about two young people growing up and finding their way to each other—taking the next step in life.
As you may have heard, there's a big new film musical coming out at Christmas about circus showman extraordinaire P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman stars. But nearly 40 years ago, the great Broadway composer Cy Coleman beat Hollywood to the punch with Barnum, his stage musical starring Jim Dale and co-written with Michael Stewart.
Coleman and Stewart's show was ambitious -- Barnum's biography was told in the form of a three-ring circus -- so to raise money, the songwriters set out across New York playing their score and telling the story in backers' auditions held in lots of Upper East Side apartments. Well, TMTP gained access to an extremely rare tape of one of those backers' auditions -- and for fans of musical theater, it's irresistible stuff. Coleman and Stewart and in top form with a marvelous collection of songs. The potential investors loved the team -- and in this exciting CD, you can hear exactly what they heard in one of those lavishly appointed living rooms.
Release Date: September 8, 2018
Available at Amazon.com and iTunes.
The only archival recording of the groundbreaking musical Shuffle Along won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes!
1921’s all-black musical comedy, Shuffle Along, was the most successful Broadway show of its time. The score contained the future standards “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and “Love Will Find a Way.” It marked the emergence of a new black musical theater, and desegregated theaters in New York and across the country.
The new Broadway musical inspired by Shuffle Along opened to rave reviews with Tony Award-winning stars such as Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Alongside the new production, Harbinger Records offers the only available archival recording of the groundbreaking musical.
Learn more here!
To order your copy today, click here.
To read Talkin’ Broadway‘s review of the album, click here.
The Musical Theater Project's authors include Bill Rudman, Heather Meeker and Joanna May Cullinan - and guest writers from time to time!