Decca Records' Oklahoma!, the first long-playing, original cast album, was released in 1943. This precedent-setting recording proved a spectacular
success, and soon other record companies followed suit, forever changing the way audiences relate to musical theater. MCA, which now controls Decca's vast catalogue, has collected more than a half-century of Broadway memories on 1996's Front Row Center, a sophisticated and fascinating four-CD box set. Front Row Center offers nearly 100 tracks from legendary performers like Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, John Raitt, Nancy Walker, Eddie Cantor, Beatrice Lillie, Dolores Gray, and Rosalind Russell, all of whom left indelible impressions on generations of theatergoers. Prominently featured are previously unreleased outtakes from Oklahoma! and Carmen Jones, as well as copious selections from significant cast albums, including Annie Get Your Gun, Mexican Hayride, Knickerbocker Holiday, On the Town, Guys and Dolls, Man of La Mancha, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Mack and Mabel.