The setup is the same. Videotaped numbers are introduced by affable Broadway talent, in this case
Lauren Bacall, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bebe Neuwirth and Jerry Orbach. The video quality varies
considerably, depending on the age of the show. The nice thing about this collection is that only
three of the performances are culled from that 1971 'historical' show that trotted out single
performers from earlier work, and staged their acts in front of plain signs calling out the year.
The bad thing is that my favorite number, Robert Morse singing I Believe in You is one of those
But besides that there's not much to complain about, especially if what one is after is variety
in shows done after 1970. Here's the rundown:
Patti Lupone revives the title song from Anything Goes and
is helped out by a full chorus and dancers. 1988.
Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur's duet Bosom
Buddies from Mame is simply shot but has a lot of personality. 1987.
I Believe in You from How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is one of
those orphaned 'historical' quickie numbers. 1971,
Jane Lapotaire's La Vie en Rose from Piaf is intense and
a good impersonation until the language switches to English. 1981.
Richard Kiley's The Impossible
Dream from Man of La Mancha is the second 'historical' offering, and suffers somewhat
from a less-than-optimum taping back in 1971.
All Singing All Dancing ties together four
lively numbers, all of them elaborately staged:
Ladies Who Sing With the Band and Off Time
from Ain't Misbehavin' have some very funny lyrics and clever moves.
Michael Jeter is
terrific in a funny drunk scene, Take a Glass Together from Grand Hotel, 1990.
The late Gregory Hines does a fierce tap and choreographs another good Jazz number That's How You
Jazz from Jelly's Last Jam, 1992.
And a revival of Guys and Dolls lets Walter
Bobbie do a snappy version of Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat; Nathan Lane stays mostly in
the background, 1992.
We've already seen glimpses of several revivals but Revivals and Record
Breakers is the next official category.
George Hearn's solo I Am What I Am follows an
extended chorus line number of female impersonators in La Cage Aux Folles 1984.
A horde of
actors sings the ensemble numbers At the End of the Day and One Day More! from
Les Miséables. It all stays impressively clear, considering how dense the staging is.
A revival of Carousel has Shirley Verrett singing You'll Never Walk Alone, 1994,
which is quite a contrast with host Jerry Orbach's raucous Bob Fosse-choreographed All I Care
About from Chicago, 1976.
The program implies that the original PBS version of this
show ended there, and offers the following Bonus Performances:
The first and rarest shows
Katherine Hepburn doing her only musical, Coco in 1970. The song is Always Mademoiselle
and it involves a giant fashion parade of women in scarlet, and a lengthy scene prologue.
the most effortlessly entertaining number is Robert Lindsay doing The Lambeth Walk from
Me and My Girl, 1987. When the entertainers invade the audience, there's a nice moment when
Lindsay kids a laughing James Earl Jones.
Tom Bosley's The Name's LaGuardia from
Fiorello! is the third 1971 'historical' excerpt, enlivened somewhat by being more than a one-man
Kathi Moss is Federico Fellini's Saraghina, serending a group of boys on how to
Be Italian in Nine.
And the capper is the gaudy and artless medley from
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat featuring Bill Hutton, an Elvis impersonator and
a lot of kitsch, 1982.
The best use for this disc is obvious, to get a peek at performances from the past, most of which
are never going to be repeated in the same way. It's a shame this wasn't happening earlier in
Broadway history; I'm told that most plays are recorded now, but not for broadcast or duplication
A worthwhile extra is a text extra that compiles some facts and history on the shows and numbers
involved. It's very useful to those of us who never kept up with Broadway. It gives the premiere
theater, opening and closing dates, number of performances and various awards associated with each
show. It also gives the opening night cast for us to compare with later movie versions; I didn't know
that How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying won a Pulitzer for drama.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Broadway's Lost Treasures II rates:
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: November 14, 2004