Over Here!

Over-HereOriginal Broadway Cast, 1974 (Columbia /Sony) 3 Stars (3 / 5) Designed to do for the 1940s what Grease did for the 1950s, Over Here! is a supremely silly tale of romance and espionage on a cross-country train loaded with volunteers, war workers, and Nazi sympathizers. It was a vehicle for the two surviving Andrews Sisters, Patty and Maxene. The score, by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, is a pastiche of the period’s hit parade; you’ll hear echoes if not actual excerpts of”Take the ‘A’ Train,” “The Beer Barrel Polka,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” among other songs. It’s all good fun, thanks to the Andrewses, a very strong supporting cast, and electrifying orchestrations by Michael Gibson and Jim Tyler that create an irresistible, big-band frenzy. The opening ballad, “Since You’re Not Around,” strikes the right note of agreeable nostalgia; then April Shawhan and John Driver score with “My Dream for Tomorrow.” The surprisingly tough-minded “Don’t Shoot the Hooey to Me, Louie,” delivered by Samuel E. Wright, touches on the period’s racism. Janie Sell amusingly spoofs Marlene Dietrich in “Wait for Me, Marlena,” and the young John Travolta is smooth as silk in “Dream Drummin’.” The Andrews gals are ebullient in such numbers as “The Big Beat,” “We Got It!” and the title tune. Most of their solos are also effective, but you’ll weep for Patty when she is forced to deliver the sex-hygiene number “The Good-Time Girl,” in which she urges soldiers to avoid “The VD Polka” (“The enemy can sock us / By spreading gonococcus”). Note that the incredible supporting cast of Over Here! included Ann Reinking, Treat Williams, and Marilu Henner, none of whom are heard on this recording in any recognizable way. — David Barbour