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The Grass Harp began life in 1951 as a novel by Truman Capote. Capote then turned it into a play that had a brief run on Broadway in 1952. In 1967, the novel and play were adapted into a new musical by Kenward Elmslie and Claibe Richardson . It had its first production that year at the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1971, producers Richard Barr, Charles Woodward, and Michael Harvey arranged a production at the Michigan University Professional Theatre Program. On the basis of that production, the decision was made to move the show to Broadway.
The Grass Harp opened on November 2, 1971 at the Martin Beck Theatre. Sadly, the musical played only seven performances. The cast was superb and included Barbara Cook, Carol Brice, Karen Morrow, Ruth Ford, Russ Thacker, and Max Showalter. The wonderful orchestrations were by Jonathan Tunick (very hot after Promises, Promises and Company) and Robert Russell Bennett. It didn’t help that the show opened during a newspaper strike and had almost no advance sales. The cast was given the option of playing three more weeks or recording a cast album. They chose the latter, and happily so, as the recording kept the show alive and helped the musical develop a huge cult following.
The score is a constant delight, with one tuneful number after another. Claibe Richardson was a wonderful and mostly unsung composer who should have been a major name on Broadway. Kenward Elmslie’s lyrics are enchanting and the whole thing retains the Capote flavor. The original LP had to drop a song due to time constraints, but it was restored for the original CD release on Painted Smiles. Then it was reissued with some bonus tracks and improved sound. For this release, a brand new remastering has improved the sound even more, and it now sounds better and fresher than ever..
1. Overture ~ Orchestra
2. Dropsy Cure Weather ~ Barbara Cook, Carol Brice, Russ Thacker
3. Floozies ~ Russ Thacker
4. Big Rich ~ Max Showalter
5. If There’s Love Enough ~ Carol Brice
6. Yellow Drum ~ Barbara Cook, Carol Brice, Russ Thacker
7. Marry With Me ~ Carol Brice
8. Chain Of Love ~ Barbara Cook
9. This One Day ~ Russ Thacker
10. The Babylove Miracle Show ~ Karen Morrow, Barbara Cook, Russ Thacker, Carol Brice, and The Company
11. Indian Blues ~ Carol Brice
12. What Do I Do Now? ~ Ruth Ford
13. Reach Out ~ Barbara Cook, Carol Brice, Russ Thacker, Karen Morrow, and The Company
14. Finale: Yellow Drum ~ The Company
15. The One and Only Person in the World ~ Max Showalter
16. I Trust the Wrong People ~ Elaine Stritch
17. Brazil ~ George Rose
So, revel in the kind of Broadway score they simply don’t know how to write anymore – The Grass Harp. -KRITZERLAND