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Broadway's Lost Treasures II

Broadway's Lost Treasures II
Acorn Media
1:37 flat full frame
90 min.
Street Date October 26, 2004

Directed by Christopher A. Cohen

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Broadway's Lost Treasures was a reasonably good roundup of original Broadway musical performances, most of them performed for the Tony Awards show. this followup disc has more of the same in an identical format, perhaps not as rich a catch as the first collection, but containing a number of certifiable goodies and a real lost treasure or two.

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 three.

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:


The Leads:
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.
Robert Morse's 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. 1987.
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.
Perhaps 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 number.
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 use.

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:
Show: Good
Video: Good
Sound: Good
Supplements: None
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: November 14, 2004

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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