First Impressions

Music and Lyrics By: Robert Goldman, Glenn Paxton, and George Weiss

Book By: Abe Burrows

Distributed by: Masterworks Broadway

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based on Jane Austinís Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions is a Broadway musical that first hit the stage at the Alvin Theater on March 19, 1959.  The musical enjoyed 84 performances before ending its run.  In April 2011, Masterworks Broadway released the Original Broadway Cast Recording of First Impressions in digital download format.  I was recently offered the opportunity to review this edition for our website.

            First Impressions takes place in Hertfordshire, England in 1813.  We are immediately introduced to the Bennet family which consists of Mr. Bennet (Laurie Mann), Mrs. Bennet (Hermione Gingold) and their five daughters Elizabeth (Polly Bergen), Jane (Phyllis Newman), Mary (Lois Bewley), Lydia (Lynn Ross) and Kitty (Lauri Peters).  As the play opens, Mrs. Bennet cries out for sympathy, for being the mother of five girls is no simple task.  She bemoans the fact that she tried so hard to have a boy, but Mr. Bennet must have misrepresented himself, because all she had was girls and now she must find them all husbands.  This in itself is a hardship thanks to the personalities of her daughters, Elizabeth in particular. 

            When rumor reaches Mrs. Bennet that a rich young man (Donald Madden) and his even richer friend (Farley Granger) are coming to live in a nearby estate, the mad rush is on to get them to notice her daughters.  Mr. Bingley takes a liking to Jane, while Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth instantly dislike each other, but later, they begin to realize that their problems with one another stem from overall impressions.  Getting to know each other, they begin to fall in love.  Just when Mrs. Bennet thinks she has finally succeeded in her matchmaking, everything falls apart and the whole affair goes topsy turvy.  Will Mrs. Bennet ever find husbands for her five daughters?

            I canít believe that this musical has never been revived.  I found the Original Broadway Cast Recording of First Impressions to by hysterically funny, beginning with Mrs. Bennetís lamenting her fate in having Five Daughters, to the rumor mill spinning its yarns in Have You Heard the News?, to Darcy and Elizabethís loathing in A Perfect Evening, to Elizabethís refusal of a suitorís proposal in Fragrant Flower to Darcy and Elizabethís admission of admiration in I Suddenly Find It Agreeable.  The songs are witty and funny and well-performed. 

            Fans of Broadway musicals will love the Original Broadway Cast Recording of First Impressions.  Fans of the Jane Austin tale, Pride and Prejudice will find this musical rendition based on the story to be rather interesting.  Fun, with catchy tunes and witty lyrics, the First Impressions Soundtrack was quite an enjoyable experience.


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