Monday, October 1, 2012

Dark Monday • Kismet


In 1953, a charming musical opened on Broadway starring Alfred Drake, Doretta Morrow, and Richard Kiley. The show is the retelling of the 1911 play of the same name written by Edward Knoblock. The story concerns a wily poet who has a way to talk his way out of trouble, and do it many times. However, while he is busy weaving his tales, his beautiful daughter meets and falls in love with a young man. Aside from the stellar cast, the show is also remembered as one of the first Broadway shows to utilize television for promotion. The show opened amidst a newspaper strike, so the promoters needed to figure out a way to get the word out. It was successful, and the show ran for almost 600 performances, and was awarded the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1954. That was not the only win, including wins in Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Alfred Drake, and Best Conductor and Musical Director for Louis Adrian. One of the songs Adrian conducted each night was the delightful "Baubles, Bangles and Beads", written by Robert Wright and George Forrest, based on the melody by Russian composer Alexander Borodin, whose music inspired most of the music for the show. Here is the beautiful Miss Peggy Lee singing "Baubles, Bangles and Beads".

There was another song that made it into the general consciousness of the public, as it was covered by so many great singers. "Stranger In Paradise" was also written by Wright and Forrest, as inspired by Borodin's "Gliding Dance of the Maidens," from the Polovtsian Dances. While Kiley and Morrow handled the duties of singing the song on Broadway, and Vic Damone and Ann Blyth took it on the the 1955 movie version, it was recorded by the great Tony Bennett in 1953 to become a hit. In 1954, Tony Martin and The Four Aces both had versions of the song that hit the charts. But I opted to share the version by Bennett, so here he is, singing "Stranger In Paradise".

You can purchase the Original Broadway Cast Album on iTunes or you can order the CD on Amazon.

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