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Gypsy (Vocal Score)
Gypsy (Vocal Score)
by Stephen Sondheim
Edition: Paperback
Price: 36.69

4.0 out of 5 stars GYPSY vocal score, 23 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Gypsy (Vocal Score) (Paperback)
No need for a humble purchaser of a second-hand vocal score of this stunningly brilliant Broadway classic by Jule Styne & Stepehen Sondheim to comment on GYPSY, except to say that I'm thrilled to have been able to acquire a good copy of the vocal score and wish one could just buy the them from the publisher direct, as one could when I first purchased a copy back in the 1980s (and which somebody, of course, "borrowed"). It's terrific that Amazon enables people to access these scores when the publishers seem to have withdrawn them from sale.


Cole Porter (Vintage)
Cole Porter (Vintage)
by William McBrien
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McBrien's Cole Porter biography, 23 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Cole Porter (Vintage) (Paperback)
A lifelong Cole Porter fan, I bought this book via Amazon online after seeing sharply conflicting customer reviews. It's a well-researched biography of an intriguing, blisteringly talented composer with an enigmatic, privileged and troubled private life that has become very much part of his public legend. Mr Porter cheerfully mythologised and glamourised his life (that naff 1940s Hollywood bio-pic he approved, with Cary Grant and Alexis Smith doing their professional best to capture Cole & Linda Porter in scripted cliché-characterisations that bore only a passing resemblance to any reality). Yes, this biography is packed with gossipy details gleaned from interviews and reminiscences from those close to Porter and his world - it's stiff with Countess di Frassos, Lady Mendls, Monty Woolleys, Murphys and the like - but then, so were Porter's life and works. To learn more about Porter's work, Citron's "Noel & Cole" biography might be more useful, but McBrien's biography takes the reader right into the privileged coterie and hothouse Broadway/Hollywood/High Society to which the Porters aspired and where their glamorous lives sparkled and shone, despite the private pains and passions they firmly hid from public scrutiny. This book is a must for students of Cole Porter. Recommended.


Sing Their Songs
Sing Their Songs
Price: 15.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ellis & Bart songs (CD), 21 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Sing Their Songs (Audio CD)
This is a rare gem - late 50s/early 60s vinyl recordings of two British master songwriters, performing their own songs, now released together on CD. Vivian Ellis of "Bless The Bride" and "Mr Cinders" fame sings delightful, witty cabaret songs, including send-ups of Noel Coward, the Macmillan government and Eamonn Andrews, the delicious "Hengist & Horsa" and his 1930s nanny's lament "Other People's Babies". A pre-Oliver! Lionel Bart, sounding every bit as camp and hilarious as Mr Ellis, sings terrific songs from "Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be" and his own satirical numbers, also spoofing Coward, British horse-racing etc... and there's a wonderful "letter home to mum" from a cockney lad who's found a new life as a rent-boy on the Riviera. Both composers could write wonderful funny songs, and both are terrific revue performers. Highly recommended.


Kings dont mean a thing: The John Knight murder case
Kings dont mean a thing: The John Knight murder case
by Arthur Bell
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars gay murder in 1970s Philadelphia, 15 Feb 2013
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Arthur Bell's excellently researched and pacily-told account of the brutal murder of newspaper-chain heir is a compelling read and casts a fascinating light on Philadelphia's gay life in the early 1970s. The victim of a brutal, drug-driven and senseless murder lived a double life between his wealthy, educated, cultured, socialite and professional background and his dangerous (and ultimately fatal) encounters with the sleazier street world of gay hustlers, drug dealers, thieves and poor immigrant families. The book is of interest for true crime readers - although the brutal murders involved were not especially mysterious or interesting - but also to anyone interested to understand the clash in 1970s America between a wealthy, privileged, WASP establishment and the depressing world of poverty, drugs, hustling and the struggle for survival on the streets.


Pal Joey
Pal Joey
Offered by clubbrasil1
Price: 20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Pal Joey 1952 Broadway, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Pal Joey (Audio CD)
A fine studio recording made by Columbia with original star Vivienne Segal (Vera Simpson) and Harold Lang replacing Gene Kelly as Joey. Terrific orchestrations and delivery of the excellent Rodgers & Hart songs. This recording led to a 1952 Broadway revival of PAL JOEY that found better audience and critical acceptance than the original 1940 production. It's a bigger, brassier and fuller recording than the smaller-scale but also very good 1981 London cast recording (Sian Phillips, Dennis Lawson). Only slight snag is that several songs were not included, so it's not a definitive recording of the show's score. Recommended.


The Riddle of Birdhurst Rise: the Croydon Poisoning Mystery
The Riddle of Birdhurst Rise: the Croydon Poisoning Mystery
by Richard Whittington-Egan
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account of Croydon mystery, 1 Jan 2013
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I bought Richard Whittington-Egan's The Riddle of Birdhurst Rise on Amazon after seeing the Julian Fellowes' TV account (A Most Mysterious Murder) of these famous unsolved arsenic murders. It's a really well-researched and -argued book, based on impressively meticulous research. The book is eminently readable, although it is hard work wading through the necessary 100 or so pages covering the three mismanaged inquests - which failed to produce any conclusive case for a prosecution. Three murders in eleven months, within a small extended family. Very few possible suspects. Classic whodunit stuff!

Unlike other accounts of this famous case, but like the inevitably more superficial and selective TV dramatisation (above), this book perfectly captures the atmosphere of 1920s suburban Croydon, vividly conveying the values, lives and domestic habits of the Duff and Sidney families. One also gains a clear sense of the period's financial, economic and social circumstances, legal and police procedures, and medical practice - some really bizarre diagnoses and autopsy results!

R W-E's conclusions are convincingly argued and based on persistent, thorough tracing of sources during and after the murders and inquests, including many revealing interviews or after-the-event testimonies from those involved - suspects, relatives, lawyers, doctors, officials, neighbours. R W-E digs up later evidence or opinions from Doctors Binning and Elwell, which clearly go close to the heart of this mystery. The two afterwords by Thomas Sidney (who seems to have had the author's sympathetic ear from the outset) and Grace Mary Duff (who didn't) offer a useful counter to the general thrust of R W-E's solution to the mystery, which I find no more persuasive than Julian Fellowes' alternative identification of the culprit. The two authors take diametrically opposed views of the unlikely femme fatale at the centre of the entire case, and of the other most obvious suspect. Most tantalising, perhaps, is R W-E's pursuit of the implications of previous deaths in the Duff household - their infant daughter Suzanne and elderly lodger Miss Kelvey.

Altogether fascinating. One of the best real crime investigations I have read.


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