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Broadway's Lost Treasures 3 [DVD] [Import]
The third volume of Broadway's Lost Treasures continues to mine historic stage performances from the vaults of the Tony Award telecasts. For fans who are used to experiencing musicals only through audio recordings, the benefits are two-fold. First, you can see great stars performing classic songs on stage, including Alfred Drake (Kiss Me Kate's "Where Is the Life That Late I Led"), Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston (Damn Yankees' "Whatever Lola Wants"), and a 33-year-old Jerry Orbach (Promises, Promises' "She Likes Basketball"). Second, you can see more recent, fully staged performances of numbers from shows that you may not have seen on Broadway or on tour, including the opening number of Ragtime, Kristin Chenoweth (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown's "My New Philosophy"), and especially the new generation of splashy dance-oriented musicals such as the 42nd Street revival (the title tune and "We're in the Money"), Fosse ("Sing, Sing, Sing"), Black and Blue ("T'ain't Nobody's Business if I Do"), and Crazy for You ("I Can't Be Bothered Now," though it would have been nice to see one of the bigger numbers like "Slap That Bass" or "I Got Rhythm"). As with previous Treasures, the older performances tend to be minimally staged, one notable exception being the relatively obscure How Now, Dow Jones (1968) getting a set, costumes, and choreography.
Two other performances don't have quite the sizzle they could have. Julie Andrews performs three songs from her Lerner & Loewe canon (My Fair Lady's "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" and "I Could Have Danced All Night" and the title song from Camelot), but they're not vintage; they're from the 1991 awards. (The cover art showing a young Andrews is thus misleading.) Ethel Merman also performs a medley of three touchstone songs (Girl Crazy's "I Got Rhythm," Call Me Madam's "You're Just in Love," and Gypsy's "Everything's Coming Up Roses"), but in 1978, almost two decades after her last great role in Gypsy. But any Merman footage is rare, and this was before Andrews's infamous vocal troubles, so it's still enjoyable, even stirring, to see these distinctive and distinguished artists. Really, any disappointment with the Broadway's Lost Treasures series is only quibbling, as fans are lucky to have this footage available at all. --David Horiuchi