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Where's Charley?

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Album Review

There was a ten year gap between the American and London stage premieres of Frank Loesser and George Abbott's Where's Charley, mostly owing to the popularity in London of the non-musical original by Brandon Thomas, and the search for a suitable lead — Ray Bolger had done the role of Charley Wyckeham on Broadway, in a production that ran a then-very-substantial 792 performances (plus the feature film that followed). But it wasn't until 1958 that the musical reached the London stage, in a production that is preserved on the recording at hand. Norman Wisdom was worth the wait, as we hear throughout this album — he makes "Once in Love with Amy" his own, in his inimitable style, with clever little nuances and vamps that come through beautifully on the recording. The rest is well-realized, with some fine comedic moments preserved in "Serenade with Asides" (sung by Felix Felton and Wisdom), which segues delightfully into the stunning "Lovelier Than Ever" (featuring Marion Grimaldi) — and the latter leads to Pip Hinton's wonderful performance on "The Woman in His Room"; those four tracks alone are practically worth the price of admission, and the rest is only inches behind them in appeal. Producer Norman Newell was an expert at the making of cast recordings, and this is one of his more enduring efforts, which is saying a great deal. In 1993 it was very well transferred to compact disc, with excellent sound and very full annotation.

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Where's Charley?, Original London Cast
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