Big City Rhythm

Original Off-Broadway Cast, 1996 (Original Cast Records) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) The heyday of the intimate revue may have been decades ago, but some good ones have surfaced more recently. Consider Barry Kleinbort’s winning song cycle Big City Rhythm, blessed with a high-powered cast and Christopher Denny’s tasteful piano arrangements. As a composer-lyricist, Kleinbort has lots of range and is willing to serve up old-fashioned melody or new-fashioned lack thereof as suits the material. Some inside jokes may be lost on some listeners — for example, the salute to Broadway leading ladies who can’t sing — but those in the know will love them. Lots of stuff more accessible to the general public is here as well, including an extended medley of proposed theme songs for unlikely movies, one of the funniest of which is “Psycho, Are You Lonely Tonight?” Marcia Lewis is adorable as a peripatetic sophisticate in “I Get Around,” Lewis Cleale and Eric Michael Gillett are stalwart leading men, and Melanie Vaughan is exceedingly funny as a difficult chanteuse just out of the Betty Ford Clinic. Some of the strongest numbers are from Kleinbort’s proposed musical version of Garson Kanin’s The Rat Race; they’ll make you eager to hear more. — Marc Miller