LP0106. SHOESTRING REVUE, Original 1955 Off-Broadway cast, w.Beatrice Arthur, Dody Goodman. Offbeat O-4011.
“SHOESTRING REVUE opened at the President Theater in New York on February 28, 1955. An evening of comic sketches and musical numbers, several of the young writers and cast members would go on to extraordinary success. In fact, all of the writers enjoyed careers that made them millionaires.
Ben Bagley, who produced several hit Off Broadway revues and a much-admired series of recordings of obscure Broadway songs, burst onto the theatrical scene in 1955 at age 21 with SHOESTRING REVUE, a zany collection of songs and sketches that involved many show-business talents who would later become famous. Among the talents Mr. Bagley discovered or helped develop were the writers Charles Strouse, Michael Stewart, Lee Adams, Sheldon Harnick, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, and the performers Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Beatrice Arthur and Tammy Grimes. The show opened on Feb. 28, 1955, at the 350-seat President Theater (later the site of Mamma Leone's restaurant) and established his reputation as a theatrical innovator with a sharp eye for talent. Overnight he became a colorful gadfly in Manhattan show-business circles.
On his own small record label, Painted Smiles, founded in 1971, Mr. Bagley released 48 albums in his ‘Revisited’ series. These anthologies, produced by Mr. Bagley and conceived as revues, featured a who's who of musical comedy talent and constitute a trove of musical theater esoterica. Mr. Bagley was remarkably successful in persuading big-name talent to contribute to these recordings for little or no money. In addition to performers like Bobby Short, Barbara Cook and Elaine Stritch, he convinced such unlikely talents as Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Perkins to make guest appearances.
Mr. Bagley concentrated on his ‘Revisited’ series (collections of Jerome Kern and Alan Jay Lerner soon followed Porter), which came out during the next few years on several different labels. Although Mr. Bagley had to struggle for the rest of his life to finance these albums, he shrewdly maintained the rights to the master recordings, and after founding Painted Smiles, was able to keep his entire catalogue in print.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 27 March, 1998