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Li'l Abner! Virginia Woolf! Kissable Kate! The new year is a musical Brigadoon

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Still ringing in the New Year?
Ring like a great musical. Broadway or TV.
Masterworks Broadway rings in 2014 with the release of three long requested albums previously unavailable on CD–Li’l Abner (January 14), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (February 18) and Brigadoon/Kiss Me, Kate (March 18).
Like most hit Broadway musicals of its time, the rollicking Li’l Abner–inspired by Al Capp’s comic strip–got the full Hollywood treatment in 1959. Musical theater fans know the film as a remarkably pure transfer of a classic 1950s Broadway musical, skillfully re-setting and preserving a theatrical experience onscreen. Most of the Broadway cast was retained: Peter Palmer reprised his portrayal of Li’l Abner, and the stage veterans included Stubby Kaye, Julie Newmar, Joe E. Marks plus a number of ensemble performers. Nelson Riddle adapted and conducted the Gene de Paul/Johnny Mercer score for the Li’l Abner soundtrack, with choral arrangements by Joseph J. Lilley; they earned the film’s only Oscar (and, later, Grammy) nomination. The “soundtrack” album (in stereo, while the Broadway recording was available only in mono) is actually a re-recording (or re-editing) of the songs for the soundtrack’s commercial LP release, a common practice that promised a smoother listening experience on the home hi-fi. Li’l Abner will be released exclusively for purchase via MasterworksBroadway.com on January 14 in a limited quantity of Manufacture-on-Demand CDs as well as digital download. The CD will be available through Arkiv Music on February 11, plus downloads through digital service providers the same day.

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Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has been an essential part of American theater–even more to the point, American culture–for over half a century. Starring Arthur Hill, Uta Hagen, George Grizzard and Melinda Dillon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was the recipient of five Tony Awards including best play, best actor (Hill) and best actress (Hagen). Produced by Goddard Lieberson, the original cast reprises their stage roles in this recording of the complete play, unavailable since the LP era and now available for the first time on CD-R and digital download. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? will be released exclusively for purchase via MasterworksBroadway.com on February 18 in a limited quantity of Manufacture-on-Demand CDs as well as digital download. The CD will be available through Arkiv Music on March 18, plus downloads through digital service providers the same day.

Long before that awful Carrie Underwood in that awful take on The Sound of Music, network television was regularly airing versions of Broadway musicals in the 1950’s and ‘60s. Following his blazing introduction in Camelot, Robert Goulet had become one of the hottest actors of the time. Capitalizing on his fame, the ABC network showcased Goulet in live broadcasts of Brigadoon in 1966 and Kiss Me, Kate in 1968. Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon features Goulet with Peter Falk and Sally Ann Howes, and Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate stars his then-wife, Carol Lawrence, as well as Jessica Walter and Michael Callan. We have these on vinyl and cannot wait for the CDs. Brigadoon/Kiss Me, Kate, available together for one price, will be released exclusively for purchase via Masterworks Broadway.com on March 18 in a limited quantity of Manufacture-on-Demand CDs as well as digital download. The CD will be available through Arkiv Music on April 14, plus downloads through digital service providers the same day.

For more information on Masterworks Broadway please visit masterworksbroadway.com.

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