At the Drop of a Hat

Original Cast (London and Broadway), 1959 (Angel) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Producer Alexander Cohen had the good sense to bring a host of newcomers to Broadway from England, among them Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, the two raconteurs of At the Drop of a Hat.  These wonderful songwriters-performers included the audience in their nightly party at the Golden Theatre. (Several years later, Broadway saw the sequel, At the Drop of Another Hat.) The songs are in the grand satirical/political tradition of the late 1950s-early ’60s. Their humor was a little naughty, silly and sophisticated by turns, with lots of allusions that belied the songs’ supposed simplicity. Intellectuals and average theatergoers could find equal amusement in the evening, albeit with different depths of understanding. Wisely, the original cast album was recorded in London before a live audience, which makes all the difference. Not only are we cued as to where the laughs are, but we also feel part of the inside group that’s enjoying these masters of song and monologue. This is one comedy record that can never be overplayed; the music and lyrics sound just as fresh the 50th time as the first, unlike many such albums. — Ken Bloom