Babes in Arms

by Richard Dyer

Nowadays we are lucky if one enduring song comes out of a Broadway show. In 1937, Rodgers and Hart's Babes in Arms contributed at least five to the permanent repertory, "Where or When," "I Wish I Were in Love Again," "My Funny Valentine," "Johnny One-Note" and "The Lady is a Tramp." And this was from a show that almost didn't make it. Variety direly prophesized "No nudity, no show girls, no plush or gold plate may mean No Sale." The story, briefly told, is "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!" We don't hear the songs "in their original context" because the book is missing but we do hear the songs in period orchestrations sung in a lively approximation of period style. One dialect song is omitted because today it would cause offense. All the performers are attractive, especially Jason Graae, a boyish fixture of Broadway revivals, who brings lots of spirit to his half of "I WIsh I Were in Love Again" and Judy Kaye, the only one in the cast with purely vocal star quality; she goes all-out in "Johnny One-Note" and appears in a delightful duet with Graae called "Imagine," with a doo-wopish background by JQ and the Bandits. Evans Haile is an informed and energetic conductor here, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, far off its usuall territory, knows what to do. As you would expect from New World Records, there is a full and authoritative annotation.

return to the Press page

to print, click here