One Touch Of Venus
Though seldom produced, Kurt Weill's "One Touch of Venus" includes many of the composer's most successful melodies, and warrants more respect than is frequently given the 1943 musical. Perhaps this new recording, the first to include the score in its entirely, and produced by John Yap for JAY Productions, will yield more notice for the work.
The original production ran a respectable 567 performances, and made Mary Martin a star as Venus, the statue that comes to life looking for love in the present day, and who finds it in the guise of barber Rodney Hatch (Brent Barrett). This time around Venus is portrayed by the lovely Melissa Errico ("Les Miserables," "Sunday in the Park With George" with Raul Esparza), and an enjoyable stable of stars accompany her to digitally bring Weill's score (with lyrics by Ogden Nash) to life. They include Judy Kuhn, Karen Ziemba, Tony winner Victoria Clark ("Light in the Piazza") and Lauren Worsham ("Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder").
Numerous songs from the score are among Weill's most well-known American hits, including "Speak Low," "That's Him," and "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," all delivered effectively by Errico. Other highlights include the novelty number, "Doctor Crippen," with Ron Raines taking us on a warped journey into a murder case, and "The Trouble With Women," a fun quartet that gives Whitelaw Savory's (Raines) henchmen, Taxi and Stanley, some vocal time with Raines and Barrett. Hearing these tunes in context is interesting for the diehard theatrical connoisseur, as well as the inclusion of all the instrumental music / ballets from the show, performed by the National Symphony Orchestra.
The hardcopy disc includes a 44-page booklet that gives a plethora of background information on the genesis of "One Touch of Venus," and includes photos of the creators, along with pictures from the Encores! Production and the Opera North production in 2004.
"One Touch of Venus"
Kurt Weill / Melissa Errico
CD and digital formats