Ballad for Bimshire

Original Off-Broadway Cast, 1963 (London/no CD) 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) This Off-Broadway oddity probably got produced because of the reputation of its composer, Irving Burgie — also known as Lord Burgess. Having written several songs that were popularized by Harry Belafonte, Burgie was one of the most prominent calypso writers of the period. But this show is more well meaning than well crafted; the writers and production team all had limited musical theater experience, and they produced a piece that, judging from the cast album, doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do or how to do it. Ballad for Bimshire clearly had a book — co-producer and co-star Ossie Davis, a driving force behind the production, narrates the story, but it’s not compelling and more than a little amorphous. The lyrics are negligible, which leaves only the tunes. They’re frequently appealing but, because they’re on their own, dramatically unrewarding. — David Wolf