Monday, July 23, 2012

Broadway Musicals - Entry #14

Three weeks ago, in passing, I mentioned my Broadway music radio program. Since my last blog post my notes have been more specifically related to my weekly on air show.  There were two groups that received correspondence.  One segment was composed of press agents for theatrical productions in Connecticut and New York City.  The second cluster consisted of individuals involved with the production, manufacturing and distribution of Broadway original cast recordings (OCR).  The people that head these companies are so important to show music djs like myself.  They are the ones that are meticulously documenting the Broadway musical through a show’s OCR even though all but a select few recordings will ever sell huge numbers. 

This was not always the situation.   Cast albums of popular musicals in the 1940’s – 1960’s sold millions of copies.  The cast recording of Oklahoma!, which was the very first OCR to feature the complete score of a Broadway show with the original performers, sold over a million copies.  Some OCRs not only had blockbuster sales, but also spent weeks on the pop charts.  The Music Man’s OCR spent 12 weeks as the number one album in the country.  It stayed on the Billboard charts for a total of 245 weeks.  Not only have the OCRs of earlier musicals been hits with the public, but individual songs from Broadway shows have been popular.  For instance, “Some Enchanted Evening,” from South Pacific was the number one song in the United States for five weeks in a row; “Hey There,” from The Pajama Game spent six weeks at number one in the summer of 1957.

During the 1940’s through the early 1980’s there were major record labels such as Columbia, Capitol, Decca and RCA Victor vying for the rights to record Broadway productions.  Today, with consolidations in the recording industry and the demise of show tunes as a fixture on radio there are fewer record labels devoted to OCRs.  This was one of the reasons I mailed cards to some of the people that run companies devoted to preserving the scores of Broadway shows.  Without CDs from the current crop of musicals my radio broadcast would just be a museum piece of older shows and their respective LPs.  I wanted the people behind Ghostlight Records, PS Classics, and Masterworks Broadway to know I appreciated their endeavors as well as providing me with the CD and/or digital version of their latest offerings.  There are very few Broadway music radio programs around the country.  Those of us “in the business” become slightly more relevant when we can play selections from such Broadway hits as “The Book of Mormon,” “Billy Elliot,” and “In the Heights” among others.

Part of the pleasure of hosting my own radio program in Hartford, CT is the ability to take in shows in The Big Apple and Connecticut.  I then offer up reviews to my listeners and readers of my blog (  Over many years I have cultivated relationships with press representatives at some of New York’s largest agencies as well as with individuals at Connecticut’s nationally known regional theaters.  Without these contacts I would not be able to be the critical eyes and ears for would-be audience members.  With the upcoming Broadway season and subscription series for Connecticut theaters about to begin I wanted to thank the press people for returning my emails and answering my phone calls.

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