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Lost In the Stars

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Album Review

Based on Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton's tragic novel set in South Africa, Lost in the Stars opened in New York in December of 1949 and had a modest run of 273 performances. Like Paton's book, the show's theme was very advanced for the year 1949, as it explored in words and music events leading up to and following the murder of a white man who ironically was a leading advocate for greater rights for South African blacks. Maxwell Anderson and Kurt Weill, who previously collaborated on the highly successful Knickerbocker's Holiday, capture the drama of the book's plot. Baritone Todd Duncan in the leading role and members of the cast drive home the events leading to the hanging of the leading character's son. As in Greek tragedy, there is copious use of the chorus to describe the events and situations swirling around major and minor characters. As the music matches the story's grief and despair, only one of the songs from this pseudo-opera achieved any degree of popular acclaim. The title tune, the moving "Lost in the Stars," has been recorded by a number of singers such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. What's left over has pretty much been assigned to oblivion. There were no romantic or novelty tunes commonly found in most musicals that the public could take a liking to and make big hits of. This digitally remastered reissue is part of Decca's project to re-release its original cast albums with brighter, sharper sound. Others in the program include Call Me Madam, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, and Destry Rides Again.

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