Undiscovered classics usually should remain undiscovered-if you've never heard of them, there's probably a good reason. DRG, on the other hand, continues to discover and dust off and reissue oldies but goodies. Case in point: This 43-year-old off-Broadway recording of Rodgers and Hart's The Boys from Syracuse, a classic in every sense. The production was directed by a (then) young and svelte Christopher Hewitt, five years before donning a dress to play the worst director ever in the original Mel Brooks' The Producers, and decades before gracing the small-screen as the epicurean Mr. Belvedere.
The cast, headed by Ellen Hanley and Karen Morrow, is not particularly well-known, but spectacularly talented. The book was adapted by George Abbott from Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors; and the music and lyrics are simply so wonderful, so unforgettable that the some smart producers should revive these Boys annually. "Falling in Love with Love"-about painful, unrequited love and emotional pain-is balanced by the lilting, happy-go-lovely, "This Can't Be Love." Add to this melange the plaintive ballad "You Have Cast Your Shadow on the Sea" and the rousing "Sing for your Supper" and you have a theatre piece with wit, charm, elegance, and an extraordinary sense of style. Larry Hart, the lyricist here, may have been a tormented gay man, but he is-and remains-the one true poet of love in American musicals during the first part of the twentieth century. This is one of the great recordings of Hart's material, sung with verve and gusto. It belongs on everyone's shelf.