Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’!

Look-Ma-OBCOriginal Broadway Cast, 1948 (Decca) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) Based on an idea by Jerome Robbins, Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’! was a broad musical comedy about a touring ballet company. It starred the incredibly gifted Broadway clown Nancy Walker, later well known for her work on television. At 4’10”, Walker made her entrance in the show leading a Russian wolfhound that was nearly as tall as she was. She played an heiress whose money pays for the tour, thereby securing her place as the latest addition to the corps de ballet. The other main character, played by Harold Lang, is a young choreographer’s who’s brilliant but generally loathed, even by the girl who loves him. The show comprised three love stories, but the eight Hugh Martin songs on this album, all lightly swinging, do not reveal any sense of plot. Walker gets two solid comic pieces, “I’m the First Girl in the Second Row in the Third Scene in the Fourth Number, in Fifth Position” and “I’m Tired of Texas,” plus the more romantic, upbeat “If You’ll Be Mine.” Lang sings the irrepressible “Gotta Dance” and the self-reflective “I’m Not So Bright.” Composer Martin is heard here performing the odd “Little Boy Blues” with Sandra Deel, who also sings “Shauny O’Shea,” though Deel did neither number in the New York production. Bill Shirley didn’t make it to opening night, but he has two numbers on the album, which was recorded during rehearsals to avoid a pending musicians’ strike. If you’re looking for more of this show, the Ben Bagley CD Ballet on Broadway has the “Mlle. Scandale Ballet” — David Wolf

Look-MaOff-Broadway Concert Cast, 2000 (Original Cast Records) 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) Musicals Tonight! is a very well-meaning New York company that mounts concert performances of old musicals. It consistently chooses the most interesting titles of all the NYC concert-musical series, and its tickets are far less expensive than any of the others. This recording documents the group’s presentation of Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’! — apparently, the first since the original Broadway run. I’m fond of this material and Hugh Martin’s writing in general, but I can’t say that this album is very impressive, even if it does include five songs that are not to be found on the Broadway cast album. Except for Rob Lorey, none of the performers here sings with any distinctive sense of character. — D.W.