Monday, October 16, 2017

KID VICTORY: A CD Review

Original Off-Broadway Cast – 2017 / Music by John Kander and lyrics by Greg Pierce
Starring: Dee Roscioli, Jeffry Denman, Karen Ziemba Brandon Flynn,Joel Blum, Laura Darrell, David Garrison, Blake Zolf, Daniel Jenkinns, Ann Arvia
Rate: 6 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Carol Rosegg

Review: John Kander’s collaboration with Fred Ebb, made him one of my all-time favorite composers. When Edd  left this world, Kander found a new work companion, Greg Pierce. Their first work, THE LANDING, show us a new Kander, far from the compositions he wrote with Ebb. Personally, I was very disappointed with it.

This KID VICTORY is Kander & Pierce new musical and this time around I enjoyed their work. It’s not up there with Kander’s best work and sometimes reminded me of Stephen Sondheim, but there’s enough here for my liking.

As you may guess, my favorite song is “What’s the Point?”, sung with gusto by Blake Zolfo. Karen Ziemba delivers the beautiful “There Was a Boy”, Jeffry Denman the haunting “You, If Anyone” and Dee Roscioli the moving “People Like Us”. “You Are the Marble” is a funny number sung by Ann Arvia and Company and Joel Blum’s “Not Quite True” has a vaudeville vibe that I like.

It’s good to know that John Kander is still working and delivering interesting scores. This one has plenty to enjoy and I recommend it.


SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE: A CD Review

New Broadway Cast – 2017 / Music by lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Annaleigh Ashford, Brooks Ashmanskas, Jenni Barber, Phillip Boykin, Mattea Conforti, Erin Davie, Claybourne Elder, Penny Fuller, Jordan Gelber, Robert Sean Leonard, Liz McCartney, Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, Jennifer Sanchez, David Turner, Max Chernin, MaryAnn Hu, Michael McElroy, Jaime Rosenstein, Laura Irion, Julie Foldesi, Andrew Kober
Rate: (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Matthew Murphy

Review: This critically acclaimed score by Stephen Sondheim isn’t among my favorite Sondheim’s work and I only began to appreciate it after seeing the DVD release of the Broadway cast with Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. Today, I love some of its songs, “Sunday” (that gives me goosebumps), “Putting It Together”, “Move On” and “Finishing the Hat”; I also enjoy “We Do Not Belong Together”, “Everybody Loves Louis”, “Beautiful”, “It’s Hot Up Here” and the title song.

We already have more than one cast recording of this score, but the star power of Jake Gyllenhaal was reason enough to release another one. Surprisingly, he more than delivers the goods and his George is, at least for me, the best I have ever heard. He may not have a very strong voice, but he sings the songs with heart and emotion, like if they were written specially for him. He is more than enough reason to buy this new recording, but there’s more.

At Gyllenhaal side, Annaleigh Ashford is a perfect Dot and make her songs her own. The rest of the cast is a perfect ensemble and the orchestrations by Michael Starobin never sounded better. Yes, you may call me a heretic, but I prefer this recording to the original Broadway cast. Like they say, it’s only a matter of opinion, but you should have this one on your Broadway library.


IN FULL SWING: A CD Review

Easy listening – 2017 / Music and lyrics by various
Singers: Seth MacFarlane, Norah Jones, Elizabeth Gillies
Rate: 10 (from 1 to 10) 

Review: Seth MacFarlane is back and once again he gives us a highly pleasant album of fabulous movie and show tunes. Who can ask for anything more.

This IN FULL SWING begins with one of my all-time favorite songs, “The First Time It Happens”, written by Joe Raposo for THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER. Later, MacFarlane delivers another of my favorites, “I Like Myself” written by André Previn and Betty Comden & Adolph Green for IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER. As you can see by this two songs, this standards album, with fabulous lively arrangements by Joel McNeely, doesn’t rely only on well-known songs.

It’s a pleasure to listen MacFarlane strong, sweet velvet voice singing classics like “Almost Like Being in Love”, “Isn’t This is a Lovely Day” or “Have You Met Miss Jones?”. But is even better when he delivers less known songs like “That Face”, “If I Had a Talking Picture of You” (a terrific duet with Norah Jones), “You Coulnd’t Be Cuter”, “You Can’t Love ‘Em All”, “A Kiss or Two” and “But Beautiful”. This exciting recording ends with a terrific duet between MacFarlane and Elizabeth Gillies, “My Buick, My Love and I” by Jack Brooks & Frank Skinner.

This is one of the best albums I listened to this year and I can only say one thing, don’t miss it.  You’re in for almost 50 minutes of pure joy and entertainment!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

HOLIDAY INN: A CD Review

Original Broadway Cast – 2016 / Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Starring: Bryce Pinkham, Lora Lee Gayer, Corbin Bleu, Megan Lawrence, Megan Sikora,
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Joan Marcus

Review: If, like me, you love Broadway’s golden age, a “new” musical by Irving Berlin is always a reason to get excited. Based on the Fred Astaire & Bing Crosby 1942 movie that introduced the song “White Christmas” to the world, this score plays like a Berlin songbook and there’s nothing wrong with it.

Larry Blank is the responsible for the new and exciting orchestrations and Bryce Pinkham, Lora Lee Gayer (my favorite), Corbin Bleu, Megan Lawrence and Megan Sikora sung the songs like if they were written for them. Of course we all heard these songs before, but even so is always a pleasure to rediscover less known (at least for me) songs like “Marching Along with Time”, “Plenty to Be Thankful For”, “Nothing More to Say”, “Let’s Start the New Year Right”, “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”, “Song of Freedom” and “Let’s Say with Firecrackers”.

There’s also more than a couple of big Berlin hits like “Steppin' Out with My Baby”, “Blue Skies”, “Heat Wave”, “It’s a Lovely Day Today” (a song that I simply love), “Shaking the Blues Away” (the big production number), “You’re Easy to Dance With”, “Easter Parade” and, it couldn’t fail, “White Christmas”.

A reminder of simple days, when the musicals only pretend to entertain and people get out of the theatre humming the songs, with a smile in their heart and rhythm on their feet. In fact, no one seems to write songs like this anymore (exception for the guys who wrote YANK!). You know what? I believe “it’s a lovely day today” to listen to this nostalgic cast recording!


ANASTASIA: A CD Review

Original Broadway Cast – 2017 / Music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Starring: Christy Altomare, John Bolton, Ramin Karimloo, Derek Klena, Caroline O'Connor, Mary Beth Peil, Lauren Blackman, Kyle Brown
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Matthew Murphy

Review: With the huge success of the Broadway adaptations of Disney’s animation musicals, it’s not a surprise that Fox’s 1997 musical ANASTASIA, with songs by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (RAGTIME), would arrive sooner or later to the stage. Specially because it appeals to the young girls’ audience that made WICKED a hit, plus it has touristic appeal. In fact, I don’t know why it took so long to get to a Broadway stage.

The movie score had a hit with “Journey to the Past” (a song in Alan Menken’s style), plus a few more songs, my favorite being “Paris Hold the Key (To Your Heart)”. Gone is the villain’s song “In the Dark of the Night”, plus the pop tune “At the Beginning”. In their place, there’s a dozen of new songs lively orchestrated by Doug Besterman.

In the title role, Christy Altomare reveals a sweet powerful voice, giving us strong renditions of “Journey to the Past” and the beautiful “Crossing a Bridge”. As the villain, Ramin Karimloo, who has a terrific voice, has is big moment with “Still”, but he deserved more interesting songs. Derek Klena, in the role of Dmitry, is a nice surprise shining with “My Petersburg”, “Everything to Win” and “In a Crowd of Thousands”, a romantic duet with Altomare. But my heart is with Caroline O’Connor’s Lily, who deliver my favorite songs of the score, “Land of Yesterday” and “The Countess and the Common Man”, here in an amusing duet with a great John Bolton. Bolton also sings, with the rest of the cast, another song that I love “We’ll Go from There” and leads the company with the already mentioned “Paris Hold the Key (To Your Heart)”.

This is an entertaining and melodious score, better than the movie soundtrack. Personally, I think it’s one of the best cast recordings of the year, but you know me, more heart than brains. Anyway, I think it really deserves to be part of any musical lover music library.


Monday, September 4, 2017

BROADWAY SEASON 2016-2017 – THE MUSICALS

On my blog BROADWAY: THE MUSICAL SEASONS I’ve just posted a page with images from all the musicals, new ones and revivals, which opened on Broadway during the 2016-2017 Season; plus the City Center Encores! series. Some became hits, others closed in a few weeks, but I believe all of them are worthy of celebration.

To visit the page click here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

SHOW MUSIC RELEASES: AUGUST/SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 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 August, September and October 2017. The list is in alphabetical order.


ANNIE GET YOUR GUN – DVD and Blu-ray release of the 1957 live telecast of Irving Berlin’s musical, starring Mary Martin, John Raitt, Reta Shaw, William O’Neal, Donald Burr and Luke Halpin. Available for pre-order at VAI Music


BARNUM – 1980 backer’s audition recording as presented by the authors. Music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Michael Stewart. Recorded live on New York's Upper East Side in the apartment of Maurice and Lois Rosenfield. 

THE BATTLE OF THE BOAT – A new musical by Ethan Donnelly and Jenna Maltby. Set during World War I, it was first performed by the National Youth Music Theatre.

THE BOOK OF MERMAN – Original Chicago Cast recording of the musical by Lee Schwartz. Featuring Sam Button-Harrison, Dan Gold and Libby Lane. Available at CDBaby.


FUNNY FACE - Soundtrack from 1957 film Funny Face, based on George and Ira Gershwin's 1927 musical. Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson. Remastered and reissued with all the songs in the order in which they appear in the film plus eight previously unreleased bonus tracks as well as rehearsal outtakes. 


GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY – Original London Cast recording with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan. Featuring Ciarán Hinds, Shriley Henderson, Michael Shaeffer, Sheila Atim, Ron Cook, Bronagh Gallagher, Claduia Jolly, Sam Reid, Arinzé Kene, Debbie Kurup, Jim Norton, Jack Shaloo, Stanley Townsend, Kristy Malpass, Tom Peters and Karl Queensborough.


HADESTOWN - Live New York Theatre Workshop Cast recording of Anaïs Mitchell's score. Featuring Nabiyah Be, Damon Daunno, Lulu Fall, Amber Grey, Patrick Page, Jessie Shelton, Chris Sullivan and Shaina Taub. 


HALF A SIXPENCE – Original Demo recordings of the David Heneker musical. Featuring Tommy Steele, Rita Williams, Roy Sone, Joanna Rigby, David Heneker and Beverley Cross; backed by the Kenny Powell Trio. Includes some cut songs. 

ISLAND SONG – Studio Cast recording starring Jackie Burns, Lilli Cooper, Kimiko Glenn, Troy Iwata, Jeremy Jordan and Natalie Weiss. Music and lyrics by Sam Carner & Derek Gregor. Available at IslandSong.


THE JOKER OF SEVILLE – Studio Cast recording of the Caribbean interpretation of Don Juan by Nobel Prize Winning Poet Derek Walcott and Grammy Award winning composer Galt MacDermot. Available at CDBaby.

KID VICTORY – Original Off-Broadway Cast recording of the Vineyard Theatre production, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Greg Pierce. Featuring Ann Arvia, Joel Blum, Laura Darrell, Jeffry Denman, Karen Ziemba, Brandon Flynn, David Garrison, Dee Roscioli and Blake Zolfo.


THE LITTLE GIANT – Studio Cast recording of the new musical by Kathy Lee Gifford and David Pomeranz. Featuring Kathy Lee Gifford, Regis Philbin, Greg Edelman and Aidan Gemme. 


MARRY HARRY – The York Theatre Company Original Off-Broadway Cast recording of the Dan Martin and Michael Biello musical. Featuring Ben Chavez, Morgan Cowling, Jesse Manocherian, Claire Saunders, David Spadora, Robin Skye and Lenny Wolpe. Available at CDBaby.

POPEYE – For the first time on CD, the Original Movie Soundtrack of Robert Altman’s movie musical, with a score by Harry Nilsson. Starring Robin Williams, Shelley Duval and Paul Dooley. Includes previously unreleased demos performed by Harry Nilsson. 


RETOUR A L’AUBERGE GANNE – Cast recording of the French operetta by Frank Thomas and Bernard Sauvet. Featuring Bernard Sauvat, Valérie Bonnier and Frank Thomas. 

SIX WIVES – The York Theatre Company Original Cast recording, featuring Alexander Gemignani, Judy Kaye, Alexandra Silber, Nick Wyma and Liam Forde. Music by Edward Thomas and lyrics by Joe Masteroff.


SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS – Original Cast recording with original songs written by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T s, They Might Be Giants, T. I., and songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny & Andy Paley, with additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton and additional music by Tom Kitt.


SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE – New Broadway Revival Cast recording of the Stephen Sondheim musical, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Annaleigh Ashford, Brooks Ashmanskas, Jenni Barber, Phillip Boykin, Mattea Conforti, Erin Davie, Claybourne Elder, Penny Fuller, Jordan Gelber, Robert Sean Leonard, Liz McCartney, Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, Jennifer Sanchez, David Turner, Max Chernin, MaryAnn Hu, Michael McElroy, Jaime Rosenstein, Laura Irion, Julie Foldesi, and Andrew Kober.
THE VIEW UPSTAIRS - Original Off-Broadway Cast recording of Max Vernon’s new musical. Featuring Jeremy Pope, Taylor Frey, Nathan Lee Graham, Frenchie Davis, Benjamin Howes, Michael Longoria, Ben Mayne, Nancy Ticotin, Randy Redd, Richard E. Waits, Anthony Alfaro, and April Ortiz.


YOU NEVER KNOW – Digital-only reissue of the 2001 world-premiere cast recording of this Cole Porter's musical. Starring Kristin Chenoweth, David Garrison, Harry Groener, Donna McKechnie and Angela Teek.
ZIPPERZ – World Premiere recording of the score by Nathaniel Stookey and Dan Harder. Featuring Manoel Felciano and Robin Coomer.