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Dietz/Schwartz Gay Life

Howard Dietz, Walter Chiari, Arthur Schwartz, Jules Munshin, Barbara Cook Audio CD

Price: 12.99
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The Gay Life Original Broadway Cast Recording

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ravishing, beautiful music 24 Oct 2005
By Mark Falconer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is, quite simply, one of my favorite show albums. Not one of my favorite flop show albums, but all show albums. It is a gorgeous score, with every single song coming from the top drawer of both Schwartz and Dietz, and in some cases sounding too good to have been written by those men (I love Schwartz and Dietz, but none of their other scores ever approached the brilliance of "Something You've Never Had Before" or "You're Not The Type.")

The other reviewer gives some detail about the show, so I won't repeat what he said. I do want to correct one thing: Barbara Cook did NOT play all the female characters in Anatole's life. The authors fiddled with that notion on the road, but eventually decided it would be impossible. She only plays Liesel. And, at least on disc, Walter Chiari is charming and funny, and in pictures, he certainly looks the part.

The show opens with "What A Charming Couple," which could've been just another easily-forgotten opening chorus. But Dietz and Schwartz pull the rug out from under us - what seems to start as a hymn sung on a wedding day suddenly becomes a merry gossip number as the townspeople chuckle that "the outcome [of the marriage] certainly looks dim!" An unusual start, but it only gets better. Some songs are simply trifles, albeit trifles with melodies better than any found in some current hit shows, like "Who Can? You Can!" and "Why Go Anywhere At All?" But Dietz and Schwartz really take off when dissecting male-female relationships. They take humorous views of womanizing ("The Bloom is Off the Rose" and "I'm Glad I'm Single") and marriage from a man's perspective ("I'm Ready For a Frau" and "I Never Had A Chance.") But at the same time, they skewer the same subjects from Liesel's much more serious and earnest perspective. It really is Barbara Cook's show, as Liesel's growth from naive girl ("Magic Moment") to saucy soubrette ("The Label on the Bottle") to mature woman ("Something You've Never Had Before.")

I'd like to speak more in-depth about that last song for a second. It is musical theatre writing at its finest. The song clearly lays out an arc for Liesel and an inner monologue to keep her transitioning from moment to moment. She starts out singing the A strain of the song; slow, romantic, pining music in which she paints a picture of the kind of love Anatol's never experienced. She then goes into a B strain where she catalogues the shallow types of love he has experienced. The music becomes far more frivolous and lilting, as if mocking these kinds of loves. She then moves on to a C strain, singing all of her own wonderful qualities and what she has to offer him; the music speeds to a patter section here. But when she questions whether or not she'll be able to please him in the bedroom, the music stops for a second, and then swells back into the A strain - a glorious release, as if the music was reassuring her that she alone had the kind of love that could conquer Anatol. She sings the last bit of the A strain, finally convinced that she is going to have Anatol for the first time in the show.

Apparently the book of this show isn't great. But I can't recommend this score highly enough. It is fabulous and deserves far more recognition than it recieves.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Gorgeous 3 July 2007
By ljs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'll have to agree with the reviewers who note just how beautiful this score is, and just how much Barbara Cook shines. It's worth hearing this just because it's one of her all too few cast albums. Even aside from that, there's hardly a clinker in here, and it was a superlative finale for Schwartz and Dietz (I think it was their last show). I have to disagree with the person who said Why Go Anywhere At All is pedestrian. It isn't - it's melodic and funny and charming. Elizabeth Allen singing Come A Wandering With Me sends shivers up my spine (after I originally wrote this, I discovered Blueglobo.com, which has the cast recreating this number on the Ed Sullivan show - it was marvellous there, too). And although I can't analyze Something You've Never Had Before with the sophistication of the reviewer who parsed it so well, I have to agree with his judgment. It's as fine a song as any ever written for the stage. You'll love this one, so get it while you can.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Cook fans rejoice! 8 May 2005
By Byron Kolln - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
THE GAY LIFE gets it's long-overdue CD reissue thanks to the good people at DRG. Capturing Barbara Cook in one of her greatest musical theatre performances, and also featuring the impressive belter Elizabeth Allen (DO I HEAR A WALTZ's original Leona) as well as talented comic actor Jules Munshin, THE GAY LIFE was based on Arthur Schnitzler's "The Affairs of Anatole" with a score by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz. In the pivotal lead role was popular actor Walter Chiari - though he was sadly miscast and may have been one of the factors of the show's quick demise (though the book was most certainly the biggest nail in the coffin). THE GAY LIFE opened at the Shubert Theatre in 1961 and ran for 113 performances.

Barbara Cook memorably played all the female characters in the love-life of Anatole, and got to sing two of the score's most beautiful numbers - "Magic Moment" and "Something You Never Had Before". Because of Walter Chiari's thick accent most of his numbers are slightly diminished nevertheless he has a charming presence on disc. Elizabeth Allen gets the showy gypsy number "Come a-Wandering with Me". Even the Overture is something special and the orchestra features traditional Viennese instrumentation.

Probably one of Schwartz and Dietz's most ambitous scores, certainly one of their most rewarding. For Barbara Cook fans and cast album enthusiasts who missed this cast album's first CD issue (quickly deleted in the early 90's) snap up this edition while you can!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Glorious Voice of Barbara Cook! 1 Mar 2014
By William LaBossiere - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Great show...beautiful costumes...plays wonderfully as described...The best voice Broadway produced during the era of fine musical comedies like Music Man and She Loves Me...
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good it should have been a great big hit!! 18 Dec 2005
By RareRare - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Don't pass this one by. Horrible title in today's terms. Renamed "The High Life" by Samuel French. Some of the most beautiful songs ever written for the stage with peerless performances by Barbara Cook, Walter Chiari, Jules Munshin and Elizabeth Allen of "Do I Hear a Waltz?: fame. This one was reworked during previews and performances on Broadway. It was finally great but too late because of earlier reviews.
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