Make a Wish

Original Broadway Cast, 1951 (RCA/Sepia) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) A spiffy overture, a swell opening chorus (“The Tour Must Go On”), then out comes our heroine with an even better character-establishing number, “I Wanna Be Good ‘n’ Bad.” In Hugh Martin’s musical adaptation of Ferenc Molnar’s The Good Fairy, Fabray is a Parisian orphan who breaks away from the orphanage and runs smack into an aspiring barrister, played by Stephen Douglass. The two stars are strictly A-list. As the second couple, Helen Gallagher and Harold Lang play a bickering nightclub duo. The cast album is generous with song-setting dialogue, and Martin’s score is up-tempo and unpretentious, offering lots of chances for this gifted quartet to shine. The ballads are also choice, particularly Fabray’s “What I Was Warned About” and Douglass’s “When Does This Feeling Go Away?” Yet even with a Preston Sturges book and show-stopping Gower Champion dances (the music for one of the ballets is included here), this musical was not a hit — and you can hear why.  Halfway through the recording, there’s a silly march (“Paris, France”), and most of what follows sounds like filler. By the time Fabray, Lang, and Gallagher are slamming across “Take Me Back to Texas With You” (“My poor eyes will get all watery / When I see Monsieur Gene Aut-e-ry”), you’ll realize what a hodge-podge the score is, its ambience careening uneasily between Paris and Passaic. Martin’s vocal arrangements, so much fun when he’s serving other composers, just sound garish when he’s working his own stuff into the ground, as in “That Face.” Still, the four leads are tops, and the gold in this mixed bag outweighs the dross.  — Marc Miller