ORIGINAL LONDON CAST RECORDING - ON THE LEVEL
Cat. no: STAGE9076
Release Date: 9th October 2020
Continuing Stage Door’s ‘Cast Album Masters Series’ is the CD debut of the ‘On the Level’ Original London Cast Recording. An original musical centred around the theft of G.C.E. exam papers, ‘On the Level’ opened at London’s Saville Theatre on April 19th 1966 and ran for 118 performances.
‘On the Level’ was the second musical penned by Ron Grainer and Ronald Millar and reunited the ‘Robert and Elizabeth’ creative team of Wendy Toye (producer), Malcolm Clare (choreographer), Malcolm Pride (designer) and impresario Martin Landau. Presented in conjunction with the Beatles manager Brian Epstein, ‘On the Level’ was the polar opposite to ‘Robert and Elizabeth’, firmly set in the present day with a contemporary score that reflected the modern era of swinging 60s London. The production, described by Martin Landau as an “ironic comedy”, focused on the British fascination with school exams and in particular the G.C.E. Inspired by real life events, the plot centres on the theft and distribution of the G.C.E. exam papers amongst both students and their parents and the scandal that ensues.
‘On the Level’ boasted a youth driven cast that included Angela Richards, Barrie Ingham, Gary Bond, Phyllida Law and a break out role for Sheila White who reportedly stopped the show with her solo number ‘Bleep Bleep’. The musical opened at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre on February 25th 1966 (after which Leslie Phillips who was cast as Clancy Pettinger left the production and was replaced by Barrie Ingham). Following further try-out performances at Southampton’s Gaumont Theatre, ‘On the Level’ opened to great fanfare at London’s Saville Theatre. Despite much publicity, including numerous television appearances by the cast and a fashion spread in the magazine ‘London Life’, the production failed to find its audience and closed after 118 performances. Although Epstein had reportedly secured the film rights to ‘On the Level’, a screen adaptation failed to materialise.
Ron Grainer and Ronald Millar’s spirited and immediate score for ‘On the Level’ was thankfully preserved on the show’s Original London Cast Album. Produced for CBS by Reginald Warburton (whose past production credits included Paul Simon’s debut solo album and the Original London Cast Albums of ‘Charlie Girl’ and ‘Instant Marriage’), the album effectively captures the show’s contemporary flare and its many song highlights including ‘Strangely Attractive’, ‘My Girl at the Dance’ and ‘Where the Action is’. The limited edition 500 unit only release of ‘On the Level’ continues Stage Door’s ‘Cast Album Masters Series’.
Licensing recordings from the major labels, the series presents the CD debut of many London Cast Recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, all digitally remastered from the studio master tapes. The ‘On the Level’ London Cast Recording is licensed courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited.
Tracks: Three Crazy Letters (G.C.E.) / Strangely Attractive / Bleep-Bleep / Thermodynamically Yours / Very Good Friend / My Girl at the Dance / Let’s Make the Most of Now / Where the Action is / Nostalgia / Love Gets Younger Every Year / Peaceful / On the Level / And Then I’ll Go / Chorale / Play Off (Where the Action is)
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