Walking Happy

Walking-HappyOriginal Broadway Cast, 1966 (Capitol/Angel) 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) One of the problems with Walking Happy, which is set in England, is that it seems too American. Still, the show has an entertaining score with some sprightly tunes and heartfelt ballads by the Academy Award-winning team of lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer James Van Heusen. The songs for the two leads — British star Norman Wisdom as Boot Black Will Mossop, and American Louise Troy as Maggie Hobson, the eldest daughter of Will’s employer — are very well integrated with the book. Troy touches the heart with Maggie’s “Where Was I?” and Will ponders “What Makes It Happen?” in his love-seeking ballad. As their relationship turns romantic, Troy’s Maggie does a beautiful “I’ll Make a Man of the Man,” and the pair sings the charming “I Don’t Think I’m in Love.” Throughout, Troy adds a reasonable British accent to her stylish Broadway belt. Wisdom brings a warm voice to the show’s title song and comedic skill to his two duets with fellow bootblack Tubby (Gordon Dilworth), “How D’Ya Talk to a Girl?” (inventively accompanied by the rhythmic sounds of men hammering nails into boot heels) and “It Might as Well Be Her.” The rest of the score is less good. George Rose, as Maggie’s father, participates in three weak songs dealing with the fellow’s sobriety or lack thereof. “Use Your Noggin,” sung by Maggie and her two sisters (Sharon Dierking and Gretchen Van Aken), features a sprightly melody, but the lyrics are so generic that the song could be put into almost any musical. And one of Will’s numbers is the unfortunate “If I Be Your Best Chance,” a prickly “poor me” song. Missing from this recording are two dance numbers that were effective onstage, “Clog and Grog” and the “Box Dance.” However, a good amount of dialogue is included, which makes it easy to follow the plot. — Jeffrey Dunn