Music By Sammy Fain

 Lyrics By: Paul Francis Webster

Distributed by: Masterworks Broadway

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In 1960, a two-act musical hit the stage.  Christine, starring Maureen O’Hara, Janet Pavek and Morley Meredith, was based on a 1945 novel by Hilda Wernher entitled My Indian Family.  Written by Pearl S. Buck and Charles K. Peck, Jr., the musical didn’t last long, but it did earn Maureen O’Hara a Tony Award amongst others.  On April 5, 2011, Masterworks Broadway made the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Christine available for digital download.  Having never heard of the musical before, I decided to check it out.

            Christine opens in Akbarabad, a little town in India, where the weekly train is coming in with two eagerly awaited arrivals; Sita Roy (Janet Paveck) who has been away in college in America and Christine Fitzsimmons (Maureen O’Hara) who has come from Ireland to visit her daughter Maryanne who has married an older Indian doctor named Rashil Singh (Morley Meredith).  Christine is surprised at her daughter’s absence at the train station, but is warmly greeted by family members and is swept away to Rashil’s home.  It is here that she learns that her daughter has died in childbirth.

            Christine and Rashil, bonded by the love they had for Maryanne, eventually become friends.  Christine begins to become more involved in Rashil’s clinic and the two begin to have feelings for one another.  Sita Roy has also gone to work for the clinic and also begins to fall in love with Rashil.  Realizing that their love can never be brought to fruition, Christine chooses Sita to be Rashil’s next bride, knowing that it would be in Rashil’s best interest and the best interest of the clinic he runs to marry Sita and not Christine.

            I never knew that Maureen O’Hara could sing, let alone what a powerfully beautiful voice she has.  Each time Maureen O’Hara sings on this album, you can’t help but stop everything to admire that voice.  It’s no wonder she won so many awards for this musical.  There are quite a few enjoyable tracks on this album, but I found Freedom Can Be a Most Uncomfortable Thing to be my favorite.  In this song, the elder women of India describe how Westernization is changing their ways and destroying their traditions.  Yes, the women are offered quite a bit more freedom than they once had, but at what cost?  The song is catchy and funny.  I also enjoyed I’m Just a Little Sparrow, a missionary song  performed by Jaya (Leslye Hunter).  The song is sweet and the vocals are adorable.

            The musical is quite easy to follow thanks to the lyrics by Paul Francis Webster.  There is no mistaking what is going on in this story - the sorrow of love lost, the surprise of finding love unexpected, and the pain of sacrificing love.  I have no idea why this musical lasted less than a year on Broadway.  I found it to be very entertaining.  The Christine Soundtrack is bound to make a perfect addition to any Broadway musical fan’s soundtrack collection.


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