Cast Recording - Terms


Original cast: the premiere or original cast of the production (original Broadway cast; original London cast; original Toronto cast; original Australian cast, etc.). This can (rather confusingly) include revivals as well as first productions. Less misleading in this last case is "Revival Cast".

Studio cast: assembled by a record company. In the early days the studio cast singers were often lesser known performers with good singing voices, usually joined by one fairly well known star. Mary Martin made a number of studio cast recordings for Columbia in the early 1950s including Babes in Arms, Girl Crazy and Anything Goes. More recent studio albums have tended to be note-complete recreations of the original orchestrations, often with well known singers (not infrequently from the world of opera rather than musical theatre) taking the leads: such as EMI's recordings of Brigadoon and Show Boat.

Soundtracks: The term soundtrack came into use in the late 1940s when MGM started releasing albums of songs from their movie musicals. MGM called these "original cast" recordings stating they were "recorded directly from the soundtrack." In fact they were remixed from the original studio discs and often contained performances and dialogue that were not heard in the finished film. Although these albums sold well they were marred by a flat boxy sound, as the listening environment in a huge movie palace is far different from the acoustics of a standard living room.

Some early soundtrack albums were actually studio recreations of the songs, as in Capitol's album of Jane Froman, who provided Susan Hayward's singing voice in the film, performing songs from the Froman biopic With a Song in My Heart. Columbia's "soundtrack" albums of Calamity Jane and Red Garters combine actual soundtrack recordings with studio re-creations.

Some soundtrack albums, such as those of Oklahoma!, Carousel, or The King and I, may include performances markedly different from those heard in the films.

Many soundtrack albums of musical films contain songs, or portions of songs that were deleted before the films were released. In the case of Carousel, there are two songs on the soundtrack album which are not in the film; in the case of The King and I, there are three. Finian's Rainbow and Chicago each contain a song that was cut from the movie before the film was sent out to theatres.

The performers who appear in Broadway shows sing the score live each night. When a Broadway cast album is made, it is (as a rule) recorded in a studio and produced with the home listener in mind (although live recordings of the original cast are not unknown). While it is strictly correct (if misleading) to call a movie soundtrack a "cast recording" since it does record the performances of the film cast, it is even more misleading, not to mention incorrect, to call any recording a "soundtrack" that has no connection with a motion picture or recorded television production.

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