Concept Album Cast – 2016 / Music by Paul Katz and lyrics by Michael Colby
Starring: Christine Bianco, Klea Blackhurst, Nat Chandler, Jake Epstein, Alison Fraser, Harriet Harris, Richard Kind, Tony Yazbeck, Samantha Massell, Nora Menken, Levin Michael Murphy, Ryan Bauer-Walsh
Rate: 7 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Elizabeth Wolynski
Review: I always have a soft spot for the Hollywood movie musicals of the 30s and in this “movieland musical”, as written by Michael Colby and musicalized by Paul Katz, those magic times come back to life with a bunch of good songs and a perfect cast.
With inspiring orchestrations (I just wish there was a bigger orchestra playing the songs) by Larry Hochman, it begins with a proper “Overture”, something that is missing from many contemporary musicals, and continues with Harriet Harris and company in funny mode with “The Public Wants to Know”, followed by the talented Christina Bianco with a true 30s style tune, “I Belong in Hollywood”. “Let’s Go” and “Keep in Step” could have been written by the likes of Harry Warren.
“Musical Mélange” is the kind of old fashion musical songs that I really enjoy. There’s also a bit of the Nelson Eddy & Jeanette MacDonald operettas (“Someone to Love Me” or “Hunchy”, both sung by Nat Chandler) and the Shirley Temple musicals (“Sounds in the Night” sung by Christina Bianco). No one doubts that Klea Blackhurst can sing and that she sounds just like Ethel Merman; here she shines with “I Can Sing” and “For My Career”. The charming Tony Yazbeck gives his Gene Kelly impersonation with “All Over the Place”. I confess that Alison Fraser’s big number “Jungle Fever” isn’t the most inspiring song of the score, I prefer her “Got to Be Good”. “It’s Mine” would be perfect for Judy Garland
The ballads “All I Dreamed”, “So This is the Movies”, “I’ll Stand by You” and “Stars in My Eyes” sound out of place with their more contemporary pop style, although I like the last two, beautifully sung by Jake Epstein (“I’ll Stand by You”) and Christine Bianco (“Stars in My Eyes”). The country styled “Born to Be Bad” may seem to belong to another musical, but in fact it's an homage to the western musicals of Roy Rogers.
These small problems apart, this in an enjoyable score that easily puts a smile on your face and a hum on your lips. It takes us back to more innocent times, when musicals didn’t need to have a message, they were just made to entertain and this TALES OF TINSELTOWN does just that.