Original Cast Recording of the Birdland Concert Performance – 2015 / Music by David Evans and Lyrics by Stephen Cole
Starring: Klea Blackhurst, Elizabeth Teeter, P. J. Benjamin, Anita Gillette, Eddie Korbich, Bill Nolte, Brian Charles Rooney, Austin Colby, F. Michael Haynie, Desi Oakley and Sarah Sesler
Rate: 7 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Kevin Alvey
Review: “Once upon a time” are the first words we hear in this recording that take us to a time where Musical Comedy ruled Broadway and Ethel Merman was queen. Thankfully, composer David Evans got his musical style right and gives us the kind of old fashion score that I enjoy. The lyrics by Stephen Cole are fun, clever, character driven and a perfect match for the music, but they leave me wondering if Merman was really such a bitch.
Songs like “A Broadway Star”, “Chums”, “Better Than Life”, “Listen to the Trumpet Call”, “Taking the Veil”, “Now You’re Gonna Sing” and “I Really Like It” sound like they could have been written by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jule Styne or Jerry Herman. The simple but evocative orchestrations by Lynne Shankel help to take us back to more innocent and joyful times.
In the role of Ethel Merman, Klea Blackhurst sounds exactly like her and seems to have a terrific time. As her young fan, Elizabeth Teeter is a perfect match for her and together they make show business sound entertaining. Bill Nolte has fun in the role of David Merrick.
It’s true, this isn’t a new classic not even a terrific score, but it’s the kind they usually don’t write anymore and that’s a shame. I enjoyed it and I’m sure you will too!