Hey, Mr. Producer! The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh
"The man who flogs the music of tonight."
- Music by Various
- Performed by the City of London Philharmonic and the Scottish Power Pipe Band
- Devised by Julia McKenzie and Cameron Mackintosh
- Staged by Bob Avian and Julia McKenzie
- Conducted by Martin Koch
- Orchestrations by William David Brown, John Cameron, David Cullen, and Jonathan Tunick
- Royal Gala Performance 6/8/98 at the Lyceum Theatre, London.
"Pick a Pocket"
"Losing My Mind"; "One Day More"
"One Two Three"
"Get Me to the Church on Time"
"I'm Martin Guerre"; "The Heat Is On in Saigon," "Last Night of the World"
"Send in the Clowns"; "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick"
"Porch Scene"; "One Day More"
"How Many Tears?"; "Broadway Baby"; "You Could Drive a Person Crazy"; "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick"
"Somewhere That's Green," "Suddenly Seymour"
"You Could Drive a Person Crazy"; "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick"; "One Day More"
"Nicer in Nice"
"Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'"
"Suddenly Seymour"; "One Day More"
"Side by Side"; "Send in the Clowns"
"Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Julian Lloyd Webber
"I Love a Lassie"
"Side by Side"; "You Could Drive a Person Crazy"; "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick"
"Broadway Baby"; "Side by Side"; "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick"
"I Get a Kick Out of You"
"Unexpected Song"; "Broadway Baby"; "Being Alive"; "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick"
"Five Guys Named Moe," "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?"
"The Rain in Spain," "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"; "American Dream"
"Stars," "One Day More"
"Wouldn't It Be Loverly?", "The Rain in Spain," "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"
"The Heat Is On in Saigon," "Last Night of the World"; "You Could Drive a Person Crazy"; "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick"; "On My Own," "One Day More"
Introduction to the Sondheim section
"The Rain in Spain"
Spoken message; "Duelling Pianos"; introduction to Tom Lehrer
"As Long As He Needs Me"
"The Phantom of the Opera," "Music of the Night"; "Bring Him Home," "One Day More"
Hey, Mr. Producer! was a huge gala theatrical event staged in honor of--and by--Cameron Mackintosh, Great Britain's most successful producer. Songs and dances were excerpted from what were apparently his most famous and popular shows: Salad Days, Cats, Oliver!, My Fair Lady, The Fix, Little Shop of Horrors, Godspell, Anything Goes, Song & Dance, The Boy Friend, Lauder, Five Guys Named Moe, Martin Guerre, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, Oklahoma!, Carousel, Side by Side by Sondheim, Tom Foolery, and Les Miserables. An extraordinary cast, one of the most distinguished in memory, was on hand to perform the songs; many of the performers created the roles that they sang for this performance, which was attended by the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburgh. Most of the numbers (e.g., those for Oliver, Cats, Miss Saigon, and Les Miserables) were given the full theatrical treatment; some, notably the Sondheim numbers, were more casually staged. The entire show was over three hours long.
- We Said We Wouldn't Look Back (from "Salad Days")
- Overture (from "Cats")
- Food Glorious Food (from "Oliver!")
- My Fair Lady: Wouldn't It Be Loverly
- Quit Professor Higgins
- The Rain in Spain
- Get Me to the Church On Time
- I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
- Introduction (Julie Andrews)
- One Two Three (from "The Fix")
- Little Shop of Horrors (from "Little Shop Of Horrors")
- Somewhere That's Green (from "Little Shop Of Horrors")
- Suddenly Seymour (from "Little Shop Of Horrors")
- Day by Day (from "Godspell")
- I Get a Kick Out of You (from "Anything Goes")
- Variations (from "Song & Dance")
- Unexpected Song (from "Song & Dance")
- Nicer in Nice (from "The Boy Friend")
- I Love a Lassie (from "Lauder")
- Five Guys Named Moe / Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?
- Oliver!: Pick a Pocket
- As Long as He Needs Me
- Introduction (Julie Andrews)
- Martin Guerre: I'm Martin Guerre
- How Many Tears?
- Miss Saigon: The Heat Is On in Saigon
- The Wedding
- The Last Night of the World
- This Is the Hour
- American Dream
- The Phantom of the Opera: The Phantom of the Opera
- Music of the Night
- Broadway Baby (from "Follies")
- Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' (from "Oklahoma!")
- Carousel: Carousel Waltz / Ballet
- Porch Scene
- You'll Never Walk Alone
- Introduction to the Sondheim section (Ned Sherrin)
- Company: Side by Side
- You Could Drive a Person Crazy
- Send in the Clowns (from "A Little Night Music")
- Losing My Mind (from "Follies")
- Being Alive (from "Company")
- You've Gotta Have a Gimmick (from "Gypsy")
- Introduction (Stephen Sondheim)
- Duelling Pianos
- Poisoning Pigeons in the Park (from "Tom Foolery")
- Cats: Jellicle Songs
- Les Miserables: At the End of the Day
- Do You Hear the People Sing?
- On My Own
- Bring Him Home
- One Day More
- We Said We Wouldn't Look Back (from "Salad Days")
This may be the greatest musical compilation CD ever recorded for any reason. It's a sort of digest of musical theatre of the last fifty years (well, from the 1940s to the mid-1990s), and while it obviously omits many important musical composers and titles, it still provides a well-rounded overview of the genre, from rock musical to pop opera, from intimate character study to anonymous huge production number.
As this is essentially a revue, there's little thematic coherence; even some musical numbers from the same musical are separated from one another. For example, the main part of the musical begins with "Food, Glorious Food" from Oliver!, segues into the My Fair Lady sequence, and then doesn't return to Oliver! for a while. There are one or two numbers from different musicals where the departing characters interact with the arriving ones, which is a clever idea that wasn't used to best advantage.
Although this CD is heavier on the ALW and B&S than I'd like, the performances make the mediocre material rise well above itself. Indeed, in nearly all cases the performances are outstanding:
- Bernadette Peters's rendition of "Unexpected Song" is, IMNSHO, one of the great female performances ever recorded. I heard someone else--can't remember who--do the song on that "Musical Theatre Divas" PBS special a while back, and the difference was striking. The "Divas" version was just a song. Peters acts it to perfection; you can hear the joy and wonder in her voice. She's in good voice in her other numbers, too, though "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick" isn't really her kind of number--her voice is too "respectable" for it.
- Similarly, Clarke Peters and the five other men harmonizing on "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" make it one of the most thrilling, soaring versions of that song that I've ever heard, especially on the chorus. We're talking orgasm on the word "baby," baby!
- Judi Dench's "Send in the Clowns" is probably the bitterest version of that song ever. She practically spits out the lyrics, and her voice cracks with frustration and anger on several lines. I can't remember a better example of "humorless humor" expressed in a song. You'll either love this version or hate it; I love it.
- Jonathan Pryce (who, BTW was in the movie Brazil--did you know that? I just found out) is a humorless Professor Higgins who won't make you forget Rex Harrison. However, his Engineer in Miss Saigon, a role that he originated, is wonderfully greedy and sleazy and vastly more interesting than any other character in that musical. And he performs it perfectly here.
- The "Broadway Baby" number (from whence the phrase "Hey, Mr. Producer" originates), while credibly performed, is better seen than heard, as it concerns "duelling auditioners" who eventually multiply into a huge chorus line of divas doing their best Rockettes imitation. It's an exciting moment that makes the more elaborate numbers in the big musicals look unnecessary and overdone.
- While watching the video with me, my dad was impressed with both Marion Montgomery's "I Get a Kick Out of You" ("Wow, she's singing the hell out of that song," he said) and Jasna Ivir's "Nicer in Nice" ("She's outstanding too.") He wasn't so thrilled with Liz Robertson ("She's off key"); Sonia Swaby, whom he conceded had a nice voice but was stuck singing a dull song; and Hugh Jackman, whose performance seemed forced. [Yes, he's the one who went on to play Wolverine in the X-Men movie.]
- Two performances notable for their sheer rarity: the Sondheim-ALW duet on "Duelling Pianos," a combination of "Send in the Clowns" and "Music of the Night" with lyrics by Sondheim and both men on a single piano; and Tom Lehrer's solo turn on "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park," which was the first time he'd performed in public in about 25 years.
- The moment when Julie Andrews steps into "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" to say "I washed my face and hands before I came" is a real tear-jerker, given that she may never sing again.
- Speaking of Julie, she gets in a left-handed compliment aimed at B&S, namely, "It has been said that great musicals are not written, they're re-written" as an intro to Martin Guerre. How appropriate!
I have the video, too, and for me it's delicious and engrossing, though at three hours it might prove to be an endurance test for people who aren't into musicals as much as me. Hell, I found myself squirming during most of the ALW and B&S material! BUT, something odd: a noticeable percentage of the musical numbers differ between the CD and the video. I'm not talking just of numbers left off the CD (one from Phantom and one from Martin Guerre, as I recall--no great loss) but of performances that differ and even use different singers, as in the spoken-word section from Carousel; the daughter on the CD is not the same person as the daughter on the video. The introductions by Sherrin and Sondheim are both terribly truncated and may either have been rerecorded or chopped up by the sound editor, who also did weird things with the audience's laughter and cheering. As a devoted Sondheim fanatic, I was pleased to hear on the CD that the audiences were far more enthusiastic for his numbers than for anyone else's; but after I watched the video, I realized that the cheers were considerable for other things as well, and, deliberately or inadvertently, the audience sounds had been changed on the CD. Also, there are several moments of laughter that don't come for any obvious reason; one assumes that the speaker made some funny gesture, but when you see the video you realize that there was no gesture. The speech had been changed, but the laughter had been left in. Yuck. [Friendly reader Trevor Kimball did some research on this issue; here's what he discovered. He also provided this link to a picture of the curtain call.]
Another minor glitch: in "You've Gotta Have a Gimmick," the line "dressy Tessie Tura" is faded in (in a supposedly live performance, yet) after the audience's cheers--faded in badly, so that it sounds like "ressy Tessie Tura." That's just plain sloppy editing.
Finally, I have to laugh at the idea of a "tribute" to Mackintosh being put on by the man himself. From what I've been reading lately, he's not the world's favorite person; for example, he wanted to mount Oklahoma! here to "show the Americans how to do it properly," a sentiment that didn't endear him to anyone and ultimately led to the scrapping of his revival plans in this country.
This is a two-CD set in a "small" two-CD jewel case. The booklet is very thick--so thick that after you open the case, you may never be able to close it properly again. But it's a worthwhile little problem. The booklet has more than four dozen pictures from the musical numbers; an index to the songs that lists their musicals, composers, lyricists, and performers; a letter from the Queen; an essay from Cameron Mackintosh; an essay about Mackintosh from Melvyn Bragg; head shots of all the adult players; huge lists of featured players, kids, "The Oliver! Gang," and the entire City of London Philharmonic, and every other member of the Hey, Mr. Producer! company; an equally huge list of "Cameron's Thanks"; and the lyrics to "Duelling Pianos." The only problems I noticed were that the list of performers on the back of the CD is incomplete, and in a few cases extra performers are listed under songs, such as Stephen Sondheim supposedly performing on "Side by Side," which is clearly not the case.
Glitches and ego aside, Hey, Mr. Producer! is a must-get CD (or video, or book) with something for everyone on it. Even if you have multiple versions of some of these songs, this CD is worth getting because of all the outstanding performances. Either the CD or the video would be a terrific gift for someone just getting into musical theatre. Oh, and a portion of the proceeds of this album go to the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Combined Theatrical Charities.
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