The Show Goes On: A Portfolio of Theater Songs by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

Off-Broadway Cast, 1998 (DRG) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) There are plenty of small delights — simple little things, one might say — to be found in this live recording of the York Theatre Company’s revue, in which lyricist Tom Jones and composer Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade, I Do, I Do!, Celebration) offer us a tour through their back catalog. (Suffice it to say this is not an album that will make much sense to anyone who doesn’t know “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” from the “The Rain Song.”) Vocally speaking, none of the three singers — Emma Lampert, Mark McVey, and JoAnn Cunningham — who join the pair of writers offer definitive performances of the well-known songs. And Jones and Schmidt regrettably sing together only for a few of their thinner creations, for example the title number, “The Show Goes On,” from the little-known musical Mirette. But it’s still a thrill to hear Schmidt play piano throughout, especially his impressionist delicacy on “Simple Little Things.” Jones, meanwhile, is the mischievous emcee, gleefully self-effacing (“There are other songs that are more like unrefrigerated fish; they tend to date rather rapidly”) and generous in sharing behind-the-scenes lore. Thrown in here are three different versions of 110 in the Shade’s “Raunchy,” written for various stars who had been courted for that show (including Mary Martin and Carol Burnett), as well as three different melodies for the title song of I Do, I Do! And, despite McVey’s tendency to over-sing, the loveliest surprise on the album is a gorgeous early ballad, “I Know Loneliness Quite Well,” which should be ranked right at the top of Jones and Schmidt’s formidable output. — Dan Rubins