The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will be hosting an exhibit dedicated to musical theater cast recordings beginning March 6.

The exhibit will document the artistry and history of cast recordings, the ways in which they are produced, and the major role they have played in preserving and increasing awareness of theater productions. It will track cast recordings from the earliest releases -- featuring such Broadway and vaudeville performers as Lillian Russell and Bert Williams -- through the rise of the long-playing record and the CD revolution. There will be exhibits of all the recording formats used for cast albums (including LP, 8-track, reel-to-reel, audio cassette, and compact disc) plus a special display of the original 78 RPM album set of Oklahoma!, which helped establish the concept of cast recordings when it was released in 1943. Also on view will be an elaborate banner comprising the covers of many LP cast albums.

The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, the Billy Rose Theatre Collection, and the Jerome Robbins Dance Division and Music Divisions of the library have all contributed to the exhibit, providing recordings, photographs, posters, and promotional materials. The gallery soundtrack will feature a number of famous overtures, and more than three hours' worth of selections from cast recordings will be available for audience access.

The exhibit may be viewed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from noon to 6pm, and Thursdays from noon to 8pm, March 6-June 7. Admission is free. For additional information, phone 212-870-1630.