Now Is the Time for All Good Men

Now-is-the-TimeOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 1968 (Columbia/DRG) 4 Stars (4 / 5) With a book and lyrics by Gretchen Cryer and music by Nancy Ford, Now Is the Time for All Good Men is set in a small town in the Midwest. Its central character is Mike Butler, a new teacher whose liberal views have a strong effect on the townspeople. In its attempt to be hard-hitting, contemporary, and relevant, the show was helped by a solid score written in a theatricalized late-’60s pop style. Heading the first-rate cast, David Cryer — then married to Gretchen — is splendid as Mike in two haunting solos, “What’s in the Air?” and “All Alone.” His leading lady is Gretchen Cryer, performing under the name Sally Niven. But there’s no vanity casting here; she’s perfect as Sarah, a shy schoolteacher who’s swept up in the events that Mike’s liberalism sets in motion. Sarah’s growing affection for Mike is showcased in “He Could Show Me,” a fine ballad, and Mrs. Cryer’s light soprano mixes well with her husband’s solid baritenor in the charming duets “Tea in the Rain” and “Rain Your Love on Me.” Better still is “My Holiday,” a poignant twin-soliloquies song about Christmas season loneliness; it’s a gem that deserves to be a holiday standard. Other standouts: David Sabin offers a sweet rendition of “A Simple Life,” Judy Frank sings a raucous, country-rock-flavored “Stuck Up,” and Steven Skiles and Anne Kaye are impressive in “Down Through History.” — Jeffrey Dunn