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The Sounds of Broadway

September 01, 2002

In Don Shirley's CD review ("Broadway Old, New and Imaginary," Aug. 25), he notes, "Irving Berlin's 'Supper Time' from the 1933 show 'As Thousands Cheer' is a raw lament by an abandoned wife and mother."

Actually, her husband has been lynched. Shirley is obviously too young to recall that in 1933, there were 42 known lynchings in the South. "Supper Time" was Berlin's denunciation of mob violence for a scene of Ethel Waters in a broken-down Southern shack setting a dinner table for her kids--"that man of mine ain't comin' home no more." The curtain rose to the headline "Unknown Negro Lynched by Frenzied Mob."

HARVEY GELLER

Tarzana

*

Don Shirley, in his otherwise positive review of Audra McDonald's upcoming CD, "Happy Songs," states that the title must be "someone's idea of a joke." Surely Shirley is familiar with irony.

AL WEAVER

Fresno

*

In Don Shirley's review of the Decca 1963 London cast recording of Rodgers & Hart's marvelous "The Boys from Syracuse," he states that it's too bad no recording of the 1999 L.A. Reprise! production is available.

But there are two other superb recordings on CD. The best, a 1997 truly excellent DRG recording with uniformly outstanding performances by Davis Gaines, Rebecca Luker, Debbie Gravitte and others, is as good a musical comedy recording as you'll find anywhere.

Not quite as good but still excellent: the Sony Broadway recording of a 1953 LP with Jack Cassidy, Portia Nelson, Bibi Osterwald and others.

Several notches below the above, the 1963 LP re-released on CD by Angel in 1993.

PETER D. KOSSORIS

Thousand Oaks

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