This was the last Kander & Ebb musical to open on Broadway and it took almost 15 years for that to happen. I saw it when it opened in Chicago in 2001 and I thought the score wasn’t among the team’s best work. Curiously, one of the songs I really liked, the comic “You Know Me” (you can listen to this song at the end of this post) is missing from the score that opened on Broadway and I think it probably was a little out of place in the show.
From the “Prelude” to the “Finale”, this is Kander & Ebb at their most Kurl Weill mode and the result is a haunting score that grows on you with each hearing. The truth is I’m enjoying it more on this cast recording than when I saw it live on stage. This is the kind of score that works better on the whole, is doesn’t live of showtunes, although it has more than a couple of songs that standout. For me the highlights are “Yellow Shoes”, the strange “I Would Never Leave You” and the beautiful “Love and Love Alone”.
Leading the cast, the legendary Chita Rivera gives her role all her personality and passionately delivers her songs. This might be her swan song and it’s an exquisite one! Her leading man, the recent deceased Roger Rees, may not have a great voice, but gives his songs a human fragile quality that sounds perfect for the role. One last word for Jason Danieley, who shines with “The Only One” (that remind me of his song “I Miss the Music” in CURTAINS).
This still isn’t among my favorite Kander & Ebb scores, but it’s better, so much better, and musically more interesting than the majority of new musicals than open nowadays on Broadway. Don’t expect a big Broadway musical, this is more like a chamber musical that would probably work better Off-Broadway, and let the quiet charms of the show conquer you.
Rate: 7 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Thom Kaine and Sara Krulwich