Such were the riches of a Broadway spoiled by the successes of Show Boat
in the 1950s that many a worthy show could get historically short shrift. That may well have been the case with the stage musical adaptation of Al Capp's wildly popular syndicated comic strip, which had a run of nearly 700 performances starting in 1956. The show (music by Gene de Paul, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, book by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank) leaned smartly on Capp's hillbilly-humor-as-contemporary-satire bent, even if its well-crafted songs and score belied a musical sophistication that was anything but Ozarkian.
Mercer's lyrics are playful and sharp (particularly on the political jab "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands"), and he and de Paul provide the show with both comic showstoppers (Stubby Kaye's "Jubilation T. Cornpone") and romantic ballads (highlighted by the zest of veteran trouper Edith Adams and newcomer Peter Palmer's "Namely You"). Previously released on CD only briefly in 1990, this newly restored and supplemented edition contains a wealth of rare materials: a rehearsal recording of the "Sadie Hawkins Day Ballet," a rousing reprise of "Jubilation T. Cornpone," the brief "What's Good for General Bullmoose." There are also two songs cut before the show's opening: "The Way to a Man's Heart" and "It's a Nuisance Having You Around," performed by Percy Faith and Rosemary Clooney, respectively. The "Hawkins Day Ballet" and overture are both presented in their original '50s binaural recordings. --Jerry McCulley