Thursday, June 15, 2017

HELLO, DOLLY!: A CD Review

Broadway Revival Cast – 2017 / Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman
Starring: Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin, Taylor Trensch, Beanie Feldstein, Will Burton, Melanie Moore, Jennifer Simard, Kevin Ligon
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Julieta Cervantes

Review: I fell in love with this score since the day I saw the movie adaptation of HELLO, DOLLY! starring Barbra Streisand. For me, that’s the best recording of the score! Later, I bought the original Broadway cast starring Carol Channing and I loved it too. In fact, one of my all-time favorite songs, “Put on Your Sunday Clothes”, was written for this musical and so was the utterly romantic “It Only Takes a Moment”.

When I heard that a new production of this musical was planned to open on Broadway with Bette Midler as Dolly, I was more than excited. I loved her in the television adaptation of GYPSY and I could easily imagine her in the role. I still don’t doubt she’s a terrific Dolly on stage but, unfortunately, she isn’t on this recording. Her rendition of the songs sound tired; sometimes it seems she’s sleepwalking around the musical numbers. Maybe she’s a little bit too old for the role.

The problem isn’t only Better Midler. There’s no excitement in the songs, there’s a lack of energy that’s upsetting. This is one of the best scores ever written and has that uplift spirit that only Jerry Herman can write, but in this recording it seems the songs never “fly” as they should. Even so, this is an unforgettable score! 

I always preferred the opening song of the movie, “Just Leave Everything to Me”, instead of the one originally written for the show, “I Put My Hand In” and, I don’t know why, I thought they would use it on this new production, maybe because I could imagine Middle singing it. One good surprise is the addition of “Penny in My Pocket”, a song cut form the original production that here gives David Hyde Pierce a great moment. I also love Kate Baldwin’s rendition of “Ribbons Down My Back”; for me she’s the best of all the Irene Molloys I heard and she makes a perfect couple with the sweet Gavin Creel.

This is far from the best or most up-lifting recording of this fabulous score, but with Bette Midler attached to it I’m sure it’ll conquer new fans. Don’t get me wrong, but I envy all the people who will hear this score for the first time.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: A CD Review

Original Broadway Cast – 2017 / Music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman / Additional songs by Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley
Starring: Christian Borle, John Rubinstein, Emily Padgett, Kathy Fitzgerald, F. Michael Haynie, Ben Crawford, Emma Pfaeffle, Alan H. Green, Trista Dollison, Jackie Hoffman, Michael Wartella and Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Fous and Ryan Sell as Charlie
Rate: 6 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Joan Marcus

Review: I saw the original London production starring Douglas Hodge and I was disappointed by it (you can read my review of it by clicking here). The show was huge, but heartless and soulless. I never thought it would reach Broadway, but it did and by listening to this new recording it seems things became livelier than in London.

The best song of the London score was the beautiful “Pure Imagination”, written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the Gene Wilder movie. The original songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were kind of uninteresting and I wished they have used more songs from the movie. It seems someone have the same thought and, for the Broadway production, they add two more songs from the 1971 movie: the famous and catchy “The Candy Man” and “The Oompa Loompa Song”. And they did something else too, they ordered new songs, so the Broadway score is different and an improvement over the London one.

Of the new songs, “The View from Here” is the better one and, although silly, “When Willy Met Oompa” is funny. I also like “Charlie, You and I” and the first part of “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”. As for the ballads “A Letter from Charlie Bucket” and “If Your Father Were Here” sound as depressing here as in the London recording.

One thing that makes this a better recording is Christian Borle performance. This actor sounds perfect as Willy Wonka and songs like “It Must Be Believed to Be Seen” and “Strike That, Reverse It”, written for the London production, gain a new life thanks to him. He is as great in the comic numbers as in quiet numbers like “Pure Imagination” and “The View from Here”. John Rubinstein has a good time with the new songs “Grandpa Joe” and “Charlie, You & I”. In the role of Charlie we have three kids (Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Fous and Ryan Sell) singing the songs and they all do it well.

I haven’t see the Broadway production, but it sounds like a different show and this recording is more enjoyable than the London cast recording. It’s true, this isn’t a great score and none of the new songs is better than the ones written by Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley for the movie, but I believe you’ll have a good time with it.


Friday, May 26, 2017

SHOW MUSIC RELEASES: MAY/JUNE 2017


Here you find a list, as complete as possible, of all the CDs, digital albums, DVDs and Blu-ray regarding stage and movie musicals that that are being released in May and June 2017. The list is in alphabetical order.

AMÉLIE – Original Broadway Cast recording of the new musical based on the famous film. Muic by Daniel Messé and lyrics by Nathan Tysen. Featuring Phillipa Soo, Adam Chanler-Berat, David Andino, Randy Blair, Heath Calvert, Alison Cimmet, Savvy Crawford, Manoel Felciano, Harriett D. Foy, Alyse Alan Louis, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Paul Whitty and Tony Sheldon.


ANASTASIA – Original Broadway Cast recording of the stage adaptatiomn of the animated movie musical. Songs by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. Starring Christy Altomare, John Bolton, Ramin Karimloo, Derek Klena, Caroline O'Connor, Mary Beth Peil, Lauren Blackman and Kyle Brown. 

BANDSTAND – Original Broadway Cast recording starring Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, Beth Leavel, Alex Bender, Joe Carroll, Brandon James Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins and Geoff Packard. Music Richard Oberacker and lyrics by Rob Taylor & Richard Oberacker. 


BLONDEL – 1984 Original London Cast starring Paul Nicholas, Sharon Lee Hill, Stephan Tate, David Burt, Chris Langham and Cantabile. Music by Stephen Oliver and lyrics by Tim Rice. Available at StageDoorRecords.


CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY – Original Broadway Cast recording starring Christian Borle, John Rubinstein, Emily Padgett, Kathy Fitzgerald, F. Michael Haynie, Ben Crawford, Emma Pfaeffle, Alan H. Green, Trista Dollison, Jackie Hoffman, Michael Wartella and Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Fous and Ryan Sell as Charlie. Original songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, with additional songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. 

To read my review click here.

COMRADE ROCKSTAR – Songs from the musical inspired by the life of Dean Reed. Music by Richard John and lyrics by Julian Woolford. Featuring Tim Howar, Kim Ismay, Caroline Sheen, Andy Conaghan, Lucy Schaufer, Yvette Robinson, OrlaGormley and Katy Secombe.

DREAMGIRLS – Original London Cast recording, recorded live at the Savoy Theatre. Starring Amber Riley, Liisi LaFontaine, Ibinabo Jack, Joe Aaron Reid, Adam J. Bernard, Tyrone Huntley, Nicholas Bailey and Lily Frazer. Music by Henry Krieger and lyrics by Tom Eyen.

To read my review click here.


GALAVANT: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION – Includes the Original Soundtrack of the TV series two seasons with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. Starring Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson, Vinnie Jones, Mallory Jansen, Karen David, Luke Youngblood. Featured singers on the album include Hugh Bonneville, Weird Al Yankovic, Ricky Gervais, Kylie Minogue, Matt Lucas, Robert Lindsay, Sheridan Smith, Reece Shearsmith, Eddie Marsan and Alfie Simmons. 

GAY CARD –Studio Cast recording of the Ryan Korell and Jonathan Keebler musical. Featuring Sean Doherty, Melissa Mitchell, Derek Klena, Alyssa LeClair, Wilson Bridges, Brad Greer, Max Sangerman, Madelin Fansler, Josh Greenblatt and Kimberly Chatterjee.

HELLO, DOLLY! – New Broadway Cast recording of Jerry Herman’s musical, starring Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin, Taylor Trensch, Beanie Feldstein, Will Burton, Melanie Moore, Jennifer Simard and Kevin Ligon.

To read my review click here.


KISS ME, KATE – Blu-ray release of the 2002 London revival filmed in front of a live audience. Starring Brent Barrett, Rachel York, Michael Berresse, Nancy Anderson and Nicolas Colicos. Songs by Cole Porter.

MAN IN THE MOON – Original Cast recording of the 1963 musical with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Featuring Bil and Cora Baird Marionettes, Franz Fazakas, Frank Sullivan, Gerald Freedman and singers Margery Gray, Rose Marie Jun and Eric Carlson. 

NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 – Original Broadway Cast recording of the Dave Malloy musical. Starring Denée Benton, Josh Groban, Brittain Ashford, Gelsey Bell, Nicholas Belton, Nick Choksi, Amber Gray, Grace McLean, Paul Pinto, Scott Stangland and Lucas Steele. 

NEWSIES – Digital release of the filmed stage production of Alan Menken and Jack Feldman’s musical, starring Jeremy Jordan, Kara Lindsay, Ben Fankhauser, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Steve Blanchard, Katherine Plumber, Tommy Bracco and Aisha de Haas. The show won Tonys for Best Choreography (Christopher Gattelli) and Original Score.

THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE – Blu-ray release of the 1953 3-D movie musical starring Rhonda Fleming, Gene Barry, Agnes Moorehead, Teresa Brewer, Guy Mitchell, The Bell Sisters, Jean Parker and Roscoe Ates. Directed by Lewis R. Forster.


WAR PAINT – Original Broadway Cast recording starring Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, John Dossett and Douglas Sills. Music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. 

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS – Original London Cast recording, music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe. Featuring Rufus Hound, Simon Lipkin, Craig Mather, Neil McDermott, Denise Welch and Gary Wilmot. 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

DREAMGIRLS: A CD Review

Original London Cast – 2016 / Music by Henry Krieger and lyrics by Tom Eyen
Starring: Amber Riley, Liisi LaFontaine, Ibinabo Jack, Joe Aaron Reid, Adam J. Bernard,  Tyrone Huntley, Nicholas Bailey, Lily Frazer, Rohan Richards, Gabriel Mokake, Ashley Luke Lloyd
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Brinkhoff/Mogenburg

Review: For some reason I don’t know, this hit Broadway musical had to wait 35 years to open at London’s West End but did it with a bang! This production was received with great reviews and it became an instant success. So, a cast recording was inevitable and I’m glad they did it.

I always try to imagine how was the reaction of the audience when they first heard “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” sung by Jennifer Holliday and I can’t. Here, the song is sung by Amber Riley, who started her career as Mercedes in the television series GLEE, and here has her big chance to be a star. She really deserves it and got an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical! Her rendition of the song is a powerful one, different from the original, but her biggest moment is with “I Am Changing”; I confess I prefer this song to “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and I believe it was overshadowed by the more famous one. For me, Riley’s rendition of “I Am Changing” is the best one ever (before her, my favorite was the one by Lillias White).

But this rich score by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen, with its Motown sound, is more than those two songs. It’s true, this doesn’t sound like the conventional or traditional musicals I love so much, so maybe I shouldn’t like it, but I can’t resist it. The songs have a melody that easily conquers me and a contagious rhythm. The title song, “One Night Only” and “Family” are good examples of what I’m saying.

The fact that this recording was done live in front of an audience, give it a strong theatrical feeling and if we close our eyes we can almost see what’s happening on stage. Amber Riley sounds fabulous, but she’s isn’t alone. Liisi LaFontaine is very good as Deena and their “Listen” duet is another highlight of the score. Ibinabo Jack is the other Dreamgirl. As for the boys, Adam J. Bernard has his shining moment with “I Meant You No Harm”, Joe Aaron Reid delivers a sweet “When I First Saw You” and Tyrone Huntley leads the company with the beautiful “Family” and later has a strong duet with Riley, “I Miss You, Old Friend”.

For me, this is the best and more lively recording of this score. So, let these DREAMGIRLS charm you and I’m sure you’ll spend an enjoyable time in their company.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

GROUNDHOG DAY: A CD Review

Original Broadway Cast – 2017 / Music and lyrics by Tim Michin
Starring: Andy Kartl, Barrett Doss, Rebecca Faulkenberry, John Sanders, Andrew Call, Tari Kelly, Raymond J. Lee
Rate: 4 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Joan Marcus

Review: When I heard the cast recording of MATILDA, Tim Michin’s previous musical, I decided that it wasn’t for me. The score was too rock oriented for my personal taste. But one day, a friend of mine convinced me and so I saw it. Surprise! Not only did I enjoyed the show, I thought the score worked perfectly on stage, although I still don’t care much about the music.

Like MATILDA, Tim Minchin’s new musical score is too much rock for my taste. The first time I played it, since the first numbers were completely out of my taste, I didn’t pay much attention. Then I remember that MATILDA had at least a of couple songs that I liked, so maybe there was something here that I might enjoy. So, I gave it a second chance and I found some very interesting numbers.

All the songs are strongly character oriented and I don’t know if they can live out of the context of the show, but “One Day”, emotionally sung by a terrific Barrett Doss and then by the company, should have one. It’s a strong, bitter and beautiful song. But the first song of the score to get my attention was STUCK, that for me is the best song of the score and perhaps the one more related with the traditional Broadway sound. Rebecca Faulkenberry shines with the nice ballad “Playing Nancy” and John Sanders has a good moment with the sad “Night Will Come”. In the leading role, Andy Karl sings his songs with gusto. One last word for a very entertaining “Entr’acte” and for the almost all instrumental “Philanthropy” that, for some reason, reminded me of WEST SIDE STORY.

This really isn’t’ my kind of music, but fans of contemporary musicals will have a good time with this one and even old fashion guys like me might find something to enjoy.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CD and Movie Review

Original Movie Soundtrack – 2017 / Music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Hattie Morahan, Nathan Mack, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson
Rate: 7 (from 1 to 10)

Review: Did we need a live-action remake of Disney’s classic BEAUTY AND THE BEAST? No, we didn’t. That movie is still one of the best animated movies I ever saw and I also had a great time with the Broadway stage adaptation of it. Besides one or two new songs, this new movie doesn’t add much to the original. In fact, half of the characters are CGI animated and that doesn’t make them real “live-action”. So, besides the millions it’s doing at the box-office, why bother doing it again? Because of the magic! I love musicals and I love fairy tales, so everything I might say ist’ always suspicious, but I really enjoyed this luxurious big production.

In the hands of director Bill Condon, who had already shown that he could handle a musical with DREAMGIRLS, the musical numbers easily flow through a fabulous fantasy atmosphere that embraces the action with a fantastic visual style and the right amount of humor. As for the polemic gay character, oh please! He already existed in the original and there’s nothing wrong with that. He makes sense in a movie with the message that being different is okay and that the important thing is the beauty inside and not the physical one.

As for the score, the big hits of the original are here, although the singing voices aren’t as good as in the original. Even so, Emma Thompson sweetly delivers the title song and Ewan McGregor leads the cast with style with “Be Our Guest”. Of course, Josh Gad has a big time with “Gaston”, the only number better here than in the original. In the role of Beauty, Emma Watson, of whom I never cared much, doesn’t have a very good singing voice, but she manages to deliver her songs in tune. I didn’t expect that Dan Stevens, as the Beast, and Luke Evans, as Gaston, had strong voices, so they surprised me. I just wish they had given something more to Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe; they did give her one of the new songs, “Aria”, but it’s too short for her enormous talent.

As for the new songs, the best one is “Evermore”, a strong emotional song that is a trademark of composer Alan Menken. There’s also the sweet “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and I couldn’t believe that, once again, they didn’t use the terrific “Be Human Again”. This song, my favorite of the whole score, was cut from the original movie and later used with magic effect on the stage production. In the current movie, it’s replaced by the pretty ballad “Days in the Sun”.

As you may guess, I recommend the movie and the soundtrack. It’s true, the original movie is better and so is the original Broadway cast recording, but there’s plenty to enjoy here and the “Be Our Guest”. number is a feast to all senses! 

You can see a gallery of poster by clicking here