September 13, 1992

TV And Studio Cast Musicals on Record: A Discography of Television Musicals and Studio Recordings of Stage and Film Musicals.  Compiled by Richard Chigley Lynch.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990.  xii + 330 pp.  ISBN 0‑313‑27324‑3.

Reviewed by Tim Brooks

This is the third and final volume in Richard Lynch’s series on musicals on record.  The first covered Broadway musicals (Greenwood, 1987), the second movie musicals (Greenwood, 1989), and here we have what might be called odds and ends‑‑TV musicals, studio versions of musicals, and an assortment of other special cases.

The information contained is relatively bare‑bones, consisting essentially of what is on the records themselves: title, composer, label and issue number, cast (roles are not indicated), and songs (including who sings what).  The author states he has made “every effort” to date each recording, but one wonders how hard he tried.  Only the year is given, and occasionally not even that.  An experienced discographer should be able to precisely date most major label recordings, and make an educated guess at the rest.  Telling the reader that a recording was made in “19__” is not terribly helpful‑‑we assume that these recordings are not from the 1800s!

Listings for television musicals generally indicate the exact date of broadcast, but not always.  Again, it should not be too difficult for the author to find that information.

While principal cast and conductor are given, there is not much else about who appears on these recordings, even in the case of major labels which may have that information in their files.  No record companies are listed in the acknowledgements.

One of the more potentially intriguing aspects of the volume is its inclusion of many types of non‑traditional “musicals”‑‑archival recreations, concert performances of musicals, ice revues, shows that closed out of town, and even “musicals for record” (i.e., musicals created expressly for record and not performed on film, stage or TV).  Unfortunately the author says that of necessity he has been selective in what he included in these areas (so much to list, so little room!).  So he ignores the classic Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America (Capitol W1573), and you won’t find any of the pioneering Victor Light Opera Company records here.  On the other hand the Smithsonian’s “recreations” of old shows, pieced together from previously unrelated single 78s, are lovingly detailed.  I suppose the author could come up with reasons why the exclusions didn’t meet his definition of “significant,” but one suspects that he simply omitted things he didn’t particularly like, or didn’t want to bother with.  Perhaps there wasn’t enough space, but with only 330 pages, 657 entries and a fair amount of white space, that does not seem to be the reason.

Several helpful indexes are provided, including chronologies of original production dates (starting with 1874 for Die Fledermaus!) and a performer index.  The latter does not give page references, but lists the names of the musicals in which each performer appeared, a nice touch.  At a glance one can see a summary of each performer’s work.  There is no song index.  In terms of physical appearance, the manuscript is plainly typed but a little hard to follow due to a lack of boldfaces, underlines or any other devices to help set off headings.  (In this day of word processors and laser printers, shouldn’t self‑prepared books begin to look better than this?)  Binding is sturdy, in line with Greenwood’s high standards.

In all, this will be a useful volume for those interested in the field.  It is another example of the “skim‑the‑surface” school of discography‑‑helpful, but it could have been so much more.


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