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Sweet Bye and Bye

A 2011 musical theater album.

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The songs are worth the price

  • Aug 29, 2011
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Sweet Bye and Bye, a 1946 musical that never made it to Broadway, was a disaster despite a pedigree that had music and lyrics written by Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash and a book by S. J. Perlman and Al Herschfeld. From what I’ve read, it deserved its fate. Not only was it set in the future, it labored under the need to be a light hearted, sardonic, humorous and even gentle satire about business…but the four creators didn’t add up to Brecht and Weill. As it happened, the two book writers had one kind of musical in mind and the songwriters had another. Songs were cut, including the best ones. Casting was awful.
What we only have now to go by is the new release on CD by psclassics of the complete score as it has been reconstructed. If you like old Broadway musicals and Vernon Duke, this is an album worth getting. Duke was a good friend and protégé of George Gershwin. Not too many people may remember him, but many of his songs have lasted, especially the great score for Cabin in the Sky, and the songs April in Paris, Autumn in New York and I Can’t Get Started. He was a sophisticated, intelligent composer and his songs reflect that.
The score for Sweet Bye and Bye, in my opinion, is variable. There are a number of patter songs and recitatives that most likely were set after Nash wrote the lyrics. I found them interesting the first time I listened to them, but after that I wasn’t entranced by the lyrics and the music didn’t stimulate much interested. (I’ve listened to them several times since and my opinion hasn’t changed.)
But Duke and Nash came up with three extraordinary songs that have been – and shouldn’t be – forgotten. This album is worth the price just for these three.
Sweet Bye and Bye sets the musical, describing a future that will be wonderful.  It doesn’t take long to realize the description is nothing but clichés. Duke’s music is clever.
Round About is sad and poignant:
You go round about and round about
And round about you go
For an olden spell is wound about the game.
Then it’s ring around and swing around
Your partners as you go
But the more they change, the more they are the same…
Born Too Late, so plaintive:
Born too late,
No more worlds to conquer.
Born to late,
All the deeds are done.
Long ago, somewhere around the corner,
Slumbered a princess
Waiting to be won.
The sky was bright with fiery dragons,
Mermaids filled the softly singing sea.
Now the sea and the sky are humdrum,
And the princess, where is she?
Faint and far,
I can hear the music
Fade and die.
Leave me with my fate.
Faint and far, I can hear the princess sighing,
You were born too late.
You’ll never know just how good these songs are unless you hear Vernon Duke's music.
The songs are worth the price The songs are worth the price

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August 04, 2013
I agree with Devora.
June 05, 2012
Really never heard of this one but it sounds like something I should check out.
August 30, 2011
I love musicals! It's sad that this one never made it big, but that kind of gives it a cool story now. Thanks so much for sharing, Charley!
About the reviewer
C. O. DeRiemer ()
Ranked #32
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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Could SWEET BYE AND BYE be the greatest theatre score no one's ever heard? It certainly boasts an amazing pedigree: music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by Ogden Nash, a book by S. J. Perelman and Al Hirschfeld. It crashed and burned during its pre-Broadway tryout in 1946 for various reasons -- some conceptual, some creative, some casting-related -- but at the end of the day what's left is a glorious collection of songs: restlessly inventive, playful and romantic -- perhaps Vernon Duke's finest theatrical achievement. A futuristic farce sending up big business, telecommunications, robotics, space travel, self-help groups and even the traditions of courtship and matrimony, at heart SWEET BYE AND BYE is a simple love story with some of the most beautiful ballads Broadway had ever heard. The world premiere recording of this Broadway-musical-that-never-was has been lovingly restored from Duke and Nash's original manuscripts by producer Tommy Krasker and orchestrator Jason Carr. With conductor Eric Stern leading the orchestra, and featuring a cast of Broadway and recording veterans -- including Danny Burstein, Philip Chaffin, Jim Stanek, Heidi Blickenstaff, Graham Rowat, Michele Ragusa, Telly Leung, Sara Jean Ford and, in the starring role originated by Dolores Gray, Marin Mazzie -- SWEET BYE AND BYE is perhaps the ultimate jewel in the crown of PS Classics' forgotten musicals series.
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Label: P.S. Classics
Release Date: July 12, 2011

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