Following in the footsteps of other installments in Arista's Ultimate series, Ultimate Broadway is an excellent sampler of some of the greatest songs and performances in the history of the Great White Way. Almost all of the 40 songs on the two discs in this collection are performed by the original Broadway casts, which makes it an excellent choice for casual fans. The Judy Collins and Aretha Franklin covers do sound a little out of place, but those are only two numbers on a generous compilation filled with great moments. The set runs from Oklahoma! to Rent, hitting such seminal performances as Carol Channing's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," Gertrude Lawrence's "Getting to Know You," Julie Andrews' "I Could Have Danced All Night," Rex Harrison's "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," Mary Martin's "The Sound of Music," Carol Channing's "Hello, Dolly!," Zero Mostel's "If I Were a Rich Man," Barbra Streisand's "People," Liza Minnelli's "Cabaret," Andrea McArdle's "Tomorrow,"and Michael Crawford's "The Music of the Night," among many, many others. It may not be a definitive show tune collection, but it's certainly tremendously entertaining.
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Clive Davis's Arista label enters the burgeoning show music compilation sweepstakes with Ultimate Broadway, a 40-song, double-disc grab bag culled from the last six decades of magical musical memories. Rather than pursue a purely legitimate theatrical pedigree, Ultimate Broadway mixes cast album classics like Alfred Drake's stirring "Oklahoma!," Judy Holliday's oh-so-sad "The Party's Over" from Bells Are Ringing, and Carol Channing's shimmering "Hello, Dolly!" with Judy Collins's pop single hit "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Musicand "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables as sung by Aretha Franklin at President Clinton's inauguration gala. Recent Great White Way hits are represented by the Rent anthem, "Seasons of Love," and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard. This collection might be just what you need to start on the path to show-tune heaven.