Her First Roman

Book, Music and Lyrics by ERVIN DRAKE Starring RICHARD KILEY, LESLIE UGGAMS, PRICILLA LOPEZ, RON RAINES and BRENDA SILAS-MOORE “When this musical version of Bernard Shaw’s Caesar & Cleopatra was…

Album art for Her First Roman

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About Her First Roman…

Book, Music and Lyrics by ERVIN DRAKE

Starring RICHARD KILEY, LESLIE UGGAMS, PRICILLA LOPEZ, RON RAINES and BRENDA SILAS-MOORE

“When this musical version of Bernard Shaw’s Caesar & Cleopatra was produced nearly 35 years ago, it was a big flop. Today, this theatrical undertaking would be turning back crowds!” – William Gregory

“Richard Kiley and Leslie Uggams are nothing short of sensational. Drake’s score is highly entertaining.” – Show Music

A famous “flop show” (only 17 performances), “Her First Roman” was the most anticipated new musical of 1968. Adapted and musicalized from G.B.Shaw’s play “Caesar and Cleopatra” by ERVIN DRAKE (who had a hit the previous year with “What Makes Sammy Run?”) and starring two of the biggest stars on Broadway: RICHARD KILEY (direct from starring in “Man Of La Mancha”) and LESLIE UGGAMS (fresh from her triumph in “Hallelujah, Baby”), this big and brassy and expensive musical was a big disappointment to everyone. Mr. Drake’s score was blamed … but fans in the audience secretly taped the show, and these bootleg tapes proved the music was terrific, as were the stars.

ROBERT McGARITY (Lockett-Palmer) and I contacted the composer and discovered he had all the original orchestrations by Broadway legend DON WALKER stored in his garage! To our joy, Mr. Kiley and Ms. Uggams both wanted to record the show they loved. I restored the orchestrations and recorded the orchestra, Robert cast PRICILLA LOPEZ (“A Chorus Line”) and RON RAINES, BRENDA SILAS-MOORE and JACK EDDLEMAN in the other leads.

For a glorious week in 1993, we all gathered in New York and relived the magic of 1960’s Broadway. We used our own variation of the cover for the announced – but never recorded – original cast album.

Subsequent to this recording, a new production of “Her First Roman” has been done and the vocal score to the show has been published … with our album cover as its cover! The CD has been unavailable to the public since its first release.

DUCY LEE RECORDINGS is very proud to add this sparkling show (and a true labor of love!) to its catalog. – Wayne Moore

Track Listing

1 Opening / What Are We Doing In Egypt?
2 Song To The Sphinx
3 Save Me From Caesar!
4 Many Young Men From Now
5 When My Back Is To The Wall
6 Pleasure Him
7 Her First Roman
8 Magic Carpet
9 Rome
10 The Dangerous Age
11 The Things We Think We Are
12 Her First Roman: Reprise
13 Parable Of The Monkey
14 I Cannot Make Him Jealous / I Can't Help Feeling Jealous
15 The Wrong Man
16 Let Me Lead The Way
17 In Vino Veritas
18 I Fell In With Evil Companions
19 Just For Today
20 Finale Ultimo
21 Song To The Sphinx (Demo)

Praise for Her First Roman…

  • “Even if there had been new Broadway cast albums to report on this issue, Lockett-Palmer Recordings’ ’25th Anniversary Cast Recording’ of HER FIRST ROMAN would stand tall among them. It’s quite amazing to look at the cover of this CD booklet, which resembles the cover of Atlantic Records’ album-that-never-was, and realize that all these years later we have a first-class recording of Ervin Drake’s score with the stars of the failed musical! HER FIRST ROMAN had major problems from the beginning of its tryout tour. It’s director and choreographer were fired out of town, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick were brought in to supply additional songs (which are not included in the new album) and huge chunks of the libretto were replaced with sections from G.B.Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, on which Drake had based his show. New York’s critics weren’t kind, but it’s not surprising the musical lasted merely 17 performances after all it had been through. No, HER FIRST ROMAN isn’t ‘My Fair Lady’, but Drake’s score is highly entertaining, nearly always melodic, amusing where it should be (‘The Dangerous Age’, ‘I Fell In With Evil Companions’, ‘The Things We Think We Are’) and in some cases quite lovely (‘Song to the Sphinx’, ‘Rome’, ‘Just For Today’). Although the recording uses the original Don Walker orchestrations (with a few additional ones by Wayne Moore), it does not actually present the score heard on Broadway. Six cut songs have been restored and Drake wrote new verses for a quartet of others, all reinstated to the order of Drake’s original libretto. In spite of the years that have elapsed since HER FIRST ROMAN’s opening, stars Richard Kiley and Leslie Uggams are nothing short of sensational. Kiley has regal presence, proving anew he’s one of our finest singing actors in numbers like ‘I Can’t Help Feeling Jealous’ and ‘In Vino Veritas’, Uggams believably recreating the young Cleopatra and maturing into the legendary temptress. Her ‘Many Young Men From Now’, ‘Magic Carpet’ and ‘The Wrong Man’ are special pleasures. The supporting cast is equally strong. Ron Raines’ big, powerful voice is an asset for anything he sings (it’s too bad he doesn’t have any solos here), Brenda Silas-Moore is a warm and wise Ftatateeta, and Pricilla Lopez, understudy for the role of Iras in the original production, finally gets her chance to sing ‘Parable of the Monkey’. A bonus track has Drake singing a rare demo recording of ['Song to the Sphinx'].”

    — Show Music
  • “Her First Roman (25th Anniversary Cast Recording) Richard Kiley/Leslie Uggams-Ervin Drake When this musical version of Bernard Shaw’s Caesar & Cleopatra was produced nearly 35 years ago, it was a big flop. Today, this theatrical undertaking would be turning back crowds in an era when every production on Broadway is a re-hashed, re-mounting of an old idea, or a half-baked musical collage, if you will. Sure, there’s Aida, that rings loudly like a music video created for the stage, there’s singing Lion’s, Phantoms, and trains, but the warmth and tenderness found in a clever lyric cannot astound the eye, it must wow the ear. Mr. Ervin Drake shows such craftsmanship on songs like “Many Young Men From Now” and “Just for Today”, inspiringly sung by Leslie Uggams. Mr. Kiley fares just as well on the worldly and sincerely sung “When My Back is to the Wall” and “In Vino Veritas”. It’s not that this is a flawless musical, not by a long shot, the chorus numbers are lackluster and the opening number “Opening/What are we Doing in Egypt?” is flat at best, still, this show along with many others, deserves to be looked at again, and re-imagined. There is so much to learn from the greatness that we threw away with yesterday’s garbage. It’s my opinion that yesterday’s flops are much stronger than many of today’s hits. This cast recording is a fascinating case and point.”

    — William Gregory Midwest-Ursine.com

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Welcome to the wonderful world of DUCY LEE RECORDINGS. My name is WAYNE MOORE. I founded this company in order to record the songs of the NEW writers of music for the theater and for cabaret ... the Gershwins, Porters…