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Last update: January 24, 2014

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LI'L ABNER - Original Movie Soundtrack - 1959 / Music by Gene de Paul and Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Starring: Peter Palmer, Stubby Kaye, Leslie Parrish, Julie Newmar, Joe E. Marks, Ted Thurston

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Remember the time when musicals were supposed to be fun and no one cared about messages and real life? Well, this is one of those shows and the score sounds even better in this movie soundtrack than on the Original Broadway Cast.

The guys responsible for the score of MGM’s hit SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, composer Gene de Paul e lyricist Johnny Mercer, teamed again for this musical adaptation of Al Capp’s comics strip and the result was a Broadway hit that opened in 1956. Three years later the show was adapted for the screen with the score almost intact and with some members of the Broadway cast, Peter Palmer, Stubby Kaye, Julie Newmar and Howard St. John, repeating their roles.

So what we have here is a very entertaining score, which was delightfully adapted for the screen by Nelson Riddle and Joseph J. Lilley. It begins with a very cinematic opening, followed by “A Typical Day” that introduces us to the colorful characters, and ends in a happy mode with “The Matrimonial Stomp”. Between those numbers there are irresistible tunes like “If I Had My Druthers”, “Namely You” and “I’m Past My Prime”.

The entire cast sounds like they’re having fun, the songs are catchy, there’s plenty of humor and we can almost see the choreography; put all this together and we have a highly enjoyable recording. A great way to begin 2014!

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A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 2013 / Music by and Lyrics by various

Starring: Mary Bridget Davies, Taprena Michelle Augustine, De'Adre Aziza, Nikki Kimbrough, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Allison Blackwell

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The fact that I’m not at all acquainted with the songs of Janis Joplin says a lot about my musical tastes and my attitude towards rock. Yes, I’m not a rock person and if I tell you that Janis Joplin only came to my attention because of Bette Midler’s THE ROSE, I’m telling you the truth.

I haven’t seen this show and I probably never will. This kind of music leaves me completely cold, even when we have Mary Bridget Davis giving her all in the leading role. The fact is she even sounds almost exactly like Joplin (I forced myself to listen to her so I could compare the two), with a strong hoarse voice.

This album sounds more like a rock concert than an original cast recording, but I guess that’s the idea of the creative team and it works. If only I enjoyed this kind of music… not even the rock versions of “Summertime” and “Little Girl Blue” conquered me. So it isn’t strange that for me the best tracks are “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Maybe (Cantels)”, neither of them sung by Davies.

Anyway, I’m sure that Janis Joplin fans will love this and if you like rock, you’ll have a good time with this cast recording.

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THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Television Soundtrack Recording - 2013 / Music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Starring: Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Christian Borle, Christiane Noll, Ariane Rinehart, Jessica Molaskey, Elena Shaddow, Michael Campayno

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: I haven’t seen this TV production yet (that’s what happens when you live in Portugal) but this new recording of the famous score by Rodgers & Hammerstein can’t be compared with the fantastic movie soundtrack starring Julie Andrews, with which I fell in love at an early age. That doesn’t mean this isn’t good, but I missed Julie Andrews and the luxurious orchestrations from the movie, plus one of my favorite songs from the movie, “I Have Confidence”.

When I heard that a country singer would play the role of Maria I expected the worst, but Carrie Underwood has a nice voice and doesn’t try to imitate Julie Andrews. At first, her rendition of the title song sounds kind of strange, but than we warm to it. For me, her best moment is with “The Lonely Goatherd”.

The producers had the good idea of surrounding Carrie with several stage names and it worked. Audra McDonald is terrific as Mother Abbess and I just wish the other Sisters, Christian Noll, Jessica Molaskey and Elena Shaddow, had more singing time; their “Maria” hit all the right notes. In the supporting roles of Max and Elsa, Christian Borle and Laura Bennanti have an enjoyable time with “How Can Love Survive?” and “No Way To Stop It”, two songs that were cut from the movie production. As Captain Von Trapp, Stephen Moyer doesn’t shine in his songs, but the same can be said about Christopher Plummer in the movie. Finally, Michael Campayno and Ariane Rinehart had a good time with “Sixteeen Going on Seventeen”.

Although I always liked this score, this isn’t by far Rodgers & Hammerstein best work, but it’s their most famous one. It’s true, this television soundtrack isn’t the best rendition of the score, but even so it’s a nice way for the new generations to discover it and maybe it’ll get them interested in other musicals. The fact is this SOUND OF MUSIC sounds better than I expected!

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SIERRA BOGGESS - Live Recording - 2013

Starring: Sierra Boggess

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Here is another live recording of an intimate concert that took place at 54 Below, this time with the young soprano Sierra Boggess, who had her Broadway debut as Ariel in Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID.

Here she begins with a good rendition of “I Have Confidence” from THE SOUND OF MUSIC that rivals with Julie Andrews, followed by an enjoyable “Lovely” from A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON MY WAY TO THE FORUM proving that there’s more to her than being lovely.

Between songs and conversation, Boggess tell us about the people who inspired her, from her family to people like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Harold Prince. She sounds like she’s at home and her enjoyment sounds genuine. I saw her in A LITTLE MERMAID and in the DVD concert of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and in both performances she was serious, so I never knew she possessed the comic side that she reveals here.

With an interesting choice of songs, including a few from Disney movies, Boggess reveals a versatile style and voice that sounds as good in the operatic “Quando M’en Vo” as in Dolly Parton’s country “Wildflowers”. I also like the fact that she chose songs like “How Come” and “Can You Imagine”, which are rarely sung. One of the highlights is the hilarious “The Ultimate Medley with apologis to ALW” and I also love the Barbra Streisand segment that ends with a beautiful rendition of Kander & Ebb’s “A Quiet Thing”. There’s also a very touching rendition of “Smoke Get in Your Eyes” and “You’ll Never Know”.

During the concert she recalls reading a review of A LITTLE MERMAID where someone referred to her as a “nobody”; I’m sure that person have already swallowed those bitter words. Boggess is a very talented actress/singer and I’m sure that we’ll hear and see plenty of her in the near future.

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MEET JOHN DOE - Studio Cast Recording - 2013 / Music by Andrew Gerle and Lyrics by Eddie Sugarman

Starring: Heidi Blickenstaff, Robert Cuccioli, James Moye, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Joel Blum, John Jellison

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: New York, the Depression years. In order not to loose her job, a journalist publishes in her column a letter of a man, John Doe, who says he will jump off of a bridge on Christmas day. The problem is that the letter is a fake, but the success of the column is so big that her and her boss must find a man to be John Doe. This story was written for one of Frank Capra’s classic movie and it’s not a surprise that someone decided to turn it into a musical. 

I believe this is Andrew Gerle (music) and Eddie Sugarman (lyrics) first musical and they won the Jonathan Larson award for it. The show began life in a concert production, had its world premiere production at the Ford’s Theatre in 2007 and it finally gets a studio cast recording.

The score begins with “Yesterday’s News” that reminded me of the better MERRILLY WE ROLL ALONG, followed by a good “I’m Your Man” sung with gusto by Heidi Blickensatff. The next three songs don’t sound the era, but “Get the Picture” kind of captures it and that’s the problem. Some of the songs, like “Money Talks”, promise the kind of traditional musical scores I enjoy, but others like “He Speaks to Me” or “Thank You” take us to a more contemporary sound inspired by the work of Stephen Sondheim (ASSASSINS and BOUNCE). Sometimes it seems we’re listening to two different musicals. This doesn’t mean this is bad, but I think Gerle & Sugarman have the talent to write a more coherent score.

As for the cast, Heidi Blickensatff sounds great in the role of the journalist and her “He Threw Me” is one of the highlights of the recording. Robert Cuccioli as her boss sings well but fails to have a great moment. In the role of John Doe, James Moye reveals a beautiful voice in the romantic duet “Who the Hell (Forgot to Tell My Heart)” and a strong one in “New American Times”.

This isn’t the kind of score that’ll conquer you at a first listening, but give it a chance and it might grow on you. There are good songs here, but I couldn’t help wonder what someone like Kander & Ebb would have done with this material.

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FRED ASTAIRE: THE EARLY YEARS AT RKO - 2013

Starring: Fred Astaire

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: “Heaven, I’m in heaven” every time I listen to this new recording.  

Several years ago was released a double CD entitled FRED ASTAIRE & GINGER ROGERS AT RKO, that included the original movie soundtracks of the classic Astaire & Rogers’ movies produced at RKO. When I heard about this new recording, I thought it’ll be the same recordings under another name, but I was wrong. This is a perfect companion piece to that other recording.

In the liner notes, regarding Astaire, Michael Feinstein wrote “there is an authenticity, simplicity, truthfulness and elegance to these performances that has never been equaled.” By listening to the fabulous songs that make this recording, we realize that Feinstein words couldn’t be more correct. It’s true, better singers have sung this songs through the years, but there’s a candor to Astaire’s voice that made the songs his. He also had the luck to have people like the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter writing songs specially for him.

With songs by all those composers, this new double CD is a treasure for lovers of the American Songbook and who can resist the likes of “Night and Day”, “Let Yourself Go”, “Cheek to Cheek”, “Isn’t This a Lovely Day”, “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Pick Yourself Up”, “A Fine Romance”, “I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck”, “I Can’t Be Bothered Now”, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”, “They All Laughed” and many more. Astaire’s voice, terrific orchestrations and a great restoration work with these old recordings, make this a must for every music lover.

The 30s was a golden decade for musicals and I know that no one writes songs like those anymore, but you can’t imagine the pleasure I have every time I play this recording. Following Astaire’s invitation, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”!

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STORIES... IN NYC - Live Recording - 2013

Starring: Bebe Neuwirth

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: With a very appealing cover, not to mention the booklet, this live recording of Bebe Neuwirth’s concert at 54 Below invite us to a close and personal meeting with this unique actress/singer/dancer. 

Through songs and stories, Bebe tell us about herself and her career. From her beginnings singing “I Love a Piano” in every audition she went, to the fact that as a dancer she can’t eat cookies, only smell them.

Her singing voice is a perfect match for the John Kander & Fred Ebb songs, “Ring Them Bells” and “But the World Goes’ Round”, and not surprisingly even better for Kurt Weill’s “Susan’s Dream”, an haunting ballad that I never heard before, “The Bilbao Song” and “Surabaya Johnny”. I think that Weill would have loved to write songs for her. I’m not very fond of Tom Waits, but in Bebe’s voices “Invitation to the Blues” is a great moment and “Shiver Me Tembers” is quietly sad, but beautiful. But there are more songs for you to discover and enjoy in this new recording. 

A simple, funny and intimate recording of a great lady of the stage, done with warm and love. I strongly recommend it and I’m sure it’ll grow on you as it’s growing in me.

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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! - World Premiere Cast Recording - 2013 / Music by Mel Marvin and Lyrics by Timothy Mason

Starring: Patrick Page, John Cullum, Rusty Ross, Abigail Shapiro, Jaimie Beth Barton, Jan Neuberger, Joshua Rosenblum, Paul Aguirre, Tari Kelly, Stuart Zagnit

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Although this musical had its first Broadway opening back in 2006, it had to wait until now for finally having a cast recording release. The good news is this is the perfect Christmas present for all musical fans. 

With a score by Mel Marvin (music) & Timothy Mason (lyrics) and a good orchestration work by Michael Starobin, this is a highly enjoyable recording for people of all ages. The music is tuneful and, although this is a moralistic story, the lyrics have a funny edge that works. One of my favorite moments is when Cindy Lou sings “Santa for a Day” and The Grinch says, “oh, it’s a ballad” – hilarious. Besides the new songs it also includes the ones from the original animated series with music by Albert Hague and lyrics by Dr. Seuss.

Of all the new songs the one that stayed in my mind is the truly musical “One of a Kind” sung with gusto by Patrick Page as Grinch and Rusty Ross as Young Max; this two actors sound perfect in the roles and so does John Cullum as Old Max. Page and Ross also delivered another of the best songs “This Time of Year”. The company of Who’s has a great time with “Who Likes Christmas?” and the entertaining “It’s the Thought That Counts”.

The happy ending may bring a tear or two, but that’s part of the deal. I believe this recording may become a Christmas favorite in many musical lovers’ library, it already is on mine.

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ONE TOUCH OF VENUS - Studio Cast Recording - 2013 / Music by Kurt Weill and Lyrics by Ogden Nash

Starring: Melissa Errico, Brent Barrett, Ron Raines, Victoria Clark, Judy Kaye, Lauren Worsham, Jacob Smith, Michael "Tuba" McKinsey, Karen Ziemba

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: I’ve been waiting for this for such a long time that I thought it would never be released. But it’s finally here!

The first time I knew about this recording was on the 2001 spring issue of the unfortunately deceased SHOW MUSIC magazine, where there was an ad with the CD cover. So, 12 years later, using the same cover the recording is available, but only for download on iTunes and probably other websites.

 

Of all Kurt Weill’s scores, this is his more melodious work and my favorite one. For years I’ve been listening to the incomplete Mary Martin recording, but this is much more enjoyable. I believe this is the first complete recording of the score and it never sounded better. The orchestrations are rich and the voices blend flawlessly with the tunes.

 

Melissa Errico is perfectly cast as Venus and her renditions of “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” and of the gorgeous “Speak Low” are a true bless. Victoria Clark has a good time with the delightful title song that I think I never heard before. Also new for me was, among others, “Way Out West in Jersey”; a funny song that I would never believe it was written by Weill.

 

Brent Barrett is the male romantic lead and lends his strong voice to “How Much I Love You” and “That’s How I Am Sick of Love” among others. The other male lead is the powerful Ron Raines who sings the more “weillish” song of the score, “Doctor Crippen”, plus other numbers.

 

From the terrific overture to the cut songs, which include the beautiful “Love in a Mist”, this is a treasure to musical fans like me and we should be thankful that this recording was finally released. Without doubt a musical highlight in a year of uninteresting releases and a reminder that no one writes songs like this anymore.

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LIZZIE - Concept Cast Recording - 2013 /Music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer & Alan Stevens Hewitt and Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer & Tim Maner

Starring: Carrie Manolakos, Storm Large, Carrie Cimma, Ryah Nixon

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: I don’t doubt I’m the worst person in the world to review this recording; in fact I shouldn’t even do it. You see, I’m an old fashion guy who loves traditional musicals and to whom rock, even pop, is something I don’t understand. It’s true, some modern musicals use rock as its kind of music and I don’t doubt it works for the shows, but not on my music player. 

For example, when I bought the RENT cast recording I couldn’t believe it had won the Tony Award for Best Original Score. With the exception of “Seasons of Love” I didn’t enjoy any of the songs. When I saw the show (a live DVD recording) I realized the score worked on stage and was perfect for the show. But I still don’t like the music.

 

All of this to write a few words about LIZZIE, a rock concept album that, like TOMMY and JESUS CHRIS SUPERSTAR, serves as a reference to future stage productions. This is pure hard rock, or so I think, and I really didn’t enjoy any of tracks. In fact, they all sound the same to me, but I believe it may work on a stage.

 

As you can probably guess by the title, it tells the legend of the infamous Lizzie Borden, an “axe-wielding double-murderess” (a distant cousin of the lady murderesses of CHICAGO). The subject seems a perfect pitch for this kind of heavy music and the cast (Carrie Manolakos and Storm Large as the Borden sisters, plus Carrie Cimma and Ryah Nixon) delivers strong voices. But this isn’t for me.

 

One thing I like, the fantastic cover!

 

If you love hard rock with a strong story and enjoy the likes of TOMMY or even RENT, I’m sure you’re going to like this “musical” by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner and Alan Stevens Hewitt.

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IN CONSTANT SEARH OF THE RIGHT KIND OF ATTENTION - Live Recording - 2013

Starring: Laura Benanti

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: I had the pleasure of seeing and meeting Laura when I saw NINE on Broadway and besides being a gorgeous and very talented girl she was also very nice and even took a picture with me. It’s that nice quality that makes her solo album “In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention” an enjoyable listening.

More than the beautifully sung songs, what comes through is her terrific sense of humor, the cozy way she embraces the audience and us listeners, plus the fact that she doesn’t take herself very seriously; just look at the funny photos that illustrate the booklet and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
 

As a very conservative or old fashioned musical lover, I would prefer that the album had more traditional theater songs and less pop numbers, but the end result is a positive one. Things start with a personal rendition of “I’m Old Fashioned”, followed by “My Time of Day” and “On the Street Where I Lived” (wouldn’t she make a terrific Eliza Doolitle?). Then it’s time for a few songs that don’t speak much to me, including “New Mexico” written by herself, although she sings them with all her heart. All those songs have in common the fact that they sound kind of sad.

“I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” is an interesting return to my kind of songs, showing that Laura should recorded a Loewe & Lerner album. This is my favorite track of the album. “Mr. Tanner” follows and then it’s time for NINE’s “Unusual Way”, both this songs take us back to a sad mood, but things end in a funny note with “Model Behavior” that she sung in WOMEN ON THE NERVE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.
 

The “sad” songs I mentioned sometimes don’t seem to fit with Laura’s good humor and funny lines, but she sings them with her heart and I felt that she loves those songs. But she’s at her best with the Loewe & Lerner songs and the comic numbers like her “The Ukulele Song”. I believe this is her first solo album and I sincerely hope it’s the first of many to follow.

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TOP HAT - Original London Cast - 2012 / Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin

Starring: Tom Chambers, Summer Strallen, Ricardo Afonso, Vivien Parry, Martin Ball, Kay Murphy

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Do you like the old fashioned but delightful songs by Irving Berlin? If the answer is yes, this new cast recording is definitely for you. One thing I’m sure, it’s unquestionably for me! 

Inspired by the old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classic movies, this new London musical has a contagious score, a kind of Berlin songbook. The most famous songs he wrote for the Astaire & Rogers’ movies are all here: “The Piccolino”, “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket”, “Puttin’ On the Ritz”, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”, “Isn’t This a Lovely Day?” and the title song among others. There are also several selections from other shows, mainly from LOUISIANA PURCHASE, that blend perfectly with the other ones.

 

I confess I don’t enjoy leading man Tom Chambers singing voice. He hasn’t a strong or even sweet one; he can carry the tunes, but I think he was chosen more for his dance talent than for his voice. As for Summer Strallen, she is a better singer and beautifully delivers her songs. Ricardo Afonso has fun with “Latins Know How”; who also has fun with her numbers is Vivien Parry.

 

The orchestrations are traditional but exciting and the end result is a highly enjoyable cast recording that leaves you humming a song or even forces you to stand up and do a little dance. I love this kind of stuff!

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GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES - City Center Encores Cast - 2012 / Music by Jule Styne and Lyrics by Leo Robin

Starring: Megan Hilty, Rachel Tork, Aaron Lazar, Clark Thorel, Simon Jones, Phillip Attmore, Jared Grimes, Megan Sikora, Michael Marcotte, Stephen R. Buntrock, Deborah Rush

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Carol Channing, Marilyn Monroe, KT Sullivan and now Megan Hilty, each one of them has given life to the colorful Lorelei Lee. I don’t know who’s the best, and there are others that I never listened to, but in terms of singing voice I dare to say that Hilty is the best.  

This new and fresh recording of Jule Styne and Leo Robin is a winner. From the terrific “Overture” to the “Finale Act 2” it seems everyone involved gives his or her best and the result is a highly enjoyable cast recording. There’s more music here than in all the previous recordings, with several instrumental numbers, plus two songs that I didn’t knew: “Coquette” and “Button Up With Esmond”.

 

The cast is perfect. Hilty is completely at ease as Lorelei and sounds great. More than the famous “Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend”, I really enjoy her in the funny “It's Delightful Down In Chile”. But I prefer Rachel York’s Dorothy, who gives us strong and exciting renditions of “It's High Time” (one of my favorites songs from the score), “I Love What I'm Doing” and “Keeping Cool With Coolidge”. Aaron Lazar is a nice surprise, singing the beautiful ballads “Just a Kiss Apart” and “You Say You Care” with a very sweet voice. Also in the cast Phillip Attmore, Jared Grimes and Megan Sikora gave us a contagious “Mamie is Mimi”.

 

No one writes scores like this one anymore and it’s a pleasure to hear it again on this delightful recording!

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SWEET BYE AND BYE - Studio Cast - 2011 / Music by Vernon Duke and Lyrics by Ogden Nash

Starring: Marin Mazzie, Philip Chaffin, Danny Burstein, Jim Stanek, Michele Ragusa, Sara Jean Ford, Telly Leung, Heidi Blickenstaff, Graham Rowat

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: One of the most interesting CD releases of 2011, was this forgotten musical by Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash. Written in 1946, the show never made it to Broadway, but at least a few songs survived through the ages; two unforgettable ballads (“Born Too Late” and “Round About”), a delicious comic song “The Sea-Gull and the Ea-Gull” and, probably the most famous of all, “Just Like a Man”. 

Now, thanks to the guys at PS Classics, we can discover the treasures that were buried in this score, here sung by an all-talented cast. Marin Mazzie has the best of times with the funny “Diana” and she duets with Philip Chaffin in the beautiful “Too Enchanting”; later, Mazzie delivers a strong “Just Like a Man”. As for Chaffin, he brilliantly sings “Born Too Late” and “Round About”. Graham Rowat leads the cast in the entertaining “My Broker Told Me So” and Sara Jean Ford and Michele Ragusa give us an amusing “I Says to Him”.

 

There’s more to discover here, like the inspiring titled “Our Parents Forgot to Get Married”. But not all of the songs are winners, for example, I don’t care much for any of the Danny Burnstein songs and it’s not his fault. But I enjoyed the “sci-fi” sounds and I wish they had given some song to Rebecca Luker. Anyway, this is great fun and my kind of score. Surely, a must have!

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DEAR WORLD - Original Broadway Revival Cast - 1969 / Music and Lyrics byJerry Herman

Starring: Angela Lansbury, Carmen Matthews, Jane Connell, Pamela Hall, Milo O'Shea, Kurt Peterson

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: If all Broadway flops had a score like this one I would say “God bless the flops!”. I don’t know how it worked on stage, but this cast recording is exquisite and unforgettable.  

After turning Angela Lansbury into a Broadway star with MAME, Jerry Herman teamed up with her again for this musical adaptation of "The Madwoman of Chaillot" by Jean Giraudoux. Unfortunately, the audience and the critics didn’t like it and the show closed after a few weeks. Nevertheless, Lansbury won her second Tony with her performance.

 

For the score, Jerry come up with one of his best and most accomplished works. In fact his score is among the best ever written for a musical. The music is fabulous, but Herman’s lyrics are the best ones he ever wrote. Just listen to the genial “The Tea Party” and you’ll understand; this song is a true masterpiece. He also gave us his most beautiful waltz ever, the haunting “I Don’t Want to Know”. But there’s more, the enchanting “Kiss Her Now”, the sad “And I Was Beautiful”, the funny “Garbage”. In fact, for me there isn’t a minor song here and, although I read the Herman didn’t like it, I really enjoy the title song (I’m a sucker for this kind of numbers).

 

As for the cast, I can’t imagine anyone else as Countess Aurelia (the Madwoman of Chaillot). Angela Lansbury is perfection and puts her heart and soul in all her numbers, from “Each Tomorrow Morning” to “One Person”, she’s at the top her game. At her side, Jane Connell and Carmen Matthews are pure pleasure; together with Lansbury they bring the “house down” with the already mentioned “The Tea Party”.

 

This is a cast recording that should be cherished by every musical fan. There aren’t many jewels like this one and I just wish that one day this musical would get the success it deserves.

 

Like Herman wrote, this “It's the size of a dream!”.

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GOOD NEWS! - Studio Cast - 1995 / Music and Lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, Lew Brown & Ray Henderson

Starring: Kim Huber, Ann Morrison, Michael Gruber, Wayne Bryan, Linda Michele, Hal Davis, Jessica Boevers, Michael McCormick

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: I think some of us believe there is an age that is more suitable for our tastes than the one we are actually living. For me it’s the 20s. I love the art deco sets, the elegant wardrobe, the glamour, the crazy parties and the music. So, it comes as no surprise, that I love musicals set on the 20s. All this brings me to GOOD NEWS!, one of my all time favorite scores.  

With music and lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, it’s a reminder of long forgotten times when the aim of a musical was simply to entertain. The show opened in 1927 and return to Broadway in 1974, in a different production that took the action to the 30s. Between those two productions, it got the MGM treatment and became a successful movie in the 40s. In 1993, at The Music Theatre of Whichita, a new revised production returned to the 20s and interpolated other songs by the three-team composer. Fortunately, John Yap recorded it, giving us this exceedingly enjoyable cast recording. 

 

There aren’t big famous names in the cast, but everyone sounds like they were born on the 20s and they make us want to go back in time and have as much fun as they had in those times. I believe that most of the cast was older than their characters, but I don’t care; they sound like the real thing. Among the cast members there’s Ann Morrison (“Merrily We Roll Along”) who as Babe, a “vivacious flapper”, leads the company in the contagious “Varsity Drag” and simply delights with her duets with Wayne Bryan, “Button Up Your Overcoat” and “Never Swat a Fly”. Kim Huber and Michael Gruber are the romantic couple that delivers the lovely “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and alone, Huber sings the beautiful “Just Imagine”. Michael McCormick has a good time as the football trainer and cheers us all with “Keep Your Sunny Side Up”. As the astronomy teacher, Linda Michele teaches her young pupils “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” and I like to agree with her.

 

The terrific orchestrations by Craig Barna truly evoke the flavor of the 20s and the result is a true party for the heart and soul. So “Down on your heels, Up on your toes, Learn how it goes

Everybody do the varsity drag!”. You won’t regret it!

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SIDE SHOW - Original Broadway Cast - 1997 / Music by Henry Krieger and Lyrics by Bill Russell

Starring:Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, Jeff McCarthy, Hugh Panaro, Norm Lewis, Ken Jennings

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The fact that I love this score may seem a little odd for someone who, like me, loves traditional Broadway scores. After all, this score has a pop flavor that I usually don’t like. But when the music and lyrics are this strong and emotional I can’t resist it. 

I had the pleasure of discovering this musical on my first trip to Broadway and I fell instantly in love with it. I never understood why if flopped, but I guess the main subject was too dark and the story a bit disturbing. Anyway, thanks to this cast recording it became a kind of cult show and I hope that one day it’ll get the success it deserves. Until then we can all enjoy this wonderful score.

 

Composer Henry Krieger (“Dreamgirls”) came up with his best work, giving us a perfect match between traditional Broadway songs like “When I’m By Your Side” and “We Share Everything” and modern beats like “Tunnel of Love” and “I Will Never Leave You”. Bill Russell’s lyrics catch the spirit of the story and are truly character oriented. The cast couldn’t be better, with Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner giving truly star turns. At their side Jeff McCarthy, Hugh Panaro and, specially, Norm Lewis, who delivers the beautiful “You Should Be Loved”, are great.

 

From the disturbing “Come Look at the Freaks” to the touching “I Will Never Leave You”, not forgetting those period songs and the dramatic “Say Goodbye to the Freak Show”, this is contemporary Broadway at its best. I love it and it’s one of my all time favorites.

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CRAZY FOR YOU - Original Broadway Cast - 1992 / Music by George Gershwin and Lyrics by Ira Gershwin

Starring: Harry Groener, Jodi Benson, Brian M. Nalepka, Tripp Hanson, Hal Shane, Beth Leavel, Stacey Logan, Michelle Pawk, Bruce Adler, John Hillner, Stephen Temperley, Amelia White

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The first time I heard about this cast recording, I didn’t pay much attention. I had recordings of most of the songs and I thought this wouldn’t bring anything new to them. But I loved the CD cover and, miracle of miracles; the CD was on sale here in Lisbon. So, after a while, I decided to buy it and I was in for a big surprise. 

Using old songs from the Gershwin’s songbook, this new musical was responsible for bringing dance back to the musical and you can almost see the choreography in the album tracks, all you have to do is close your eyes. As a huge fan of dance, I surrendered completely to the charms of this cast recording.

 

Believe me, this Broadway album is riveting and it’s a pleasure to hear so many great songs in just one show. With, among others, “I Got Rhythm”, “I Can’t Be Bothered Now”, “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “Shall We Dance”, “Embraceable You”, “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, “But Not for Me”, “Slap That Bass” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”, who can ask for anything more? I’m sure I can’t and it’s lamentable that no one writes songs like these nowadays.

 

The cast is terrific! As the romantic couple, Harry Groener and Jodi Benson is a match made in heaven. Michele Pawk brings down the “house” with “Naughty Baby” and Bruce Adler, together with Groener, is hilarious with “What Causes That?”. The fabulous orchestrations by William D. Brohn are lively and, among others, turn “I Got Rhythm” into a fabulous contagious number.

 

Cast albums don’t get much better than this and this one is among my top list. An unforgettable experience, that gives wings to our feet and put love in our hearts. Simply “S wonderful! 'S marvelous!”.

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A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC - London National Theatrel Cast - 1995 / Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Starring: Judi Dench, Laurence Guittard, Joanna Riding, Lambert Wilson, Patricia Hodge, Siân Phillips, Brendan O'Hea, Issy Van Randwyck, Claire Cox, Stephen Hanley, Ernestina Quarcoo, Di Botcher, Tim Godwin, Morag McLaren

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Do you like waltzes? If you do you’ll love this Stephen Sondheim score. I’m not an expert in music, but I read that all this show’s songs were written as waltzes and the result is one of the most melodious scores that have ever been written for a musical.  

Sondheim’s most famous song, “Send in the Clowns”, belongs to this musical, but my favorite is the haunting “Every Day a Little Death”. I also have to mention the superb “A Weekend in the Country”, a flawless example of Sondheim’s genius. For me this Royal National Theatre cast recording is the best of all this show’s recordings. There’s something dramatic and artificial about it that makes it perfect and the cast is truly remarkable.

 

Judi Dench is brilliant as Desiree and her “Send in the Clowns” is the most touching rendition of that song that I ever heard. Joanna Riding is the best Anne ever, Patricia Hodge is a very human Charlotte, Siân Phillips is a perfectly decadent Madame Armfeldt and Claire Cox is a lovely Fredrika. Laurence Guittard as Fredrik and Lambert Wilson as Carl-Magnus are both strong. One last word for the excellent Issy Van Randwyck and her winning “The Miller’s Son”.

 

This is Sondheim at his best and this is probably the most haunting of all Musical scores. In a word, this cast recording is perfection!

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MACK & MABEL - Original London Cast - 1995 / Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman

Starring: Howard McGillin, Caroline O'Connor, Kathryn Evans, Philip Herbert, Graham Hubbard, Alan Mosley, Jonathan D. Ellis, Julia Parrott, Ray Scott-Johnson

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Jerry Herman is one of my favorite composers and is responsible for some of the more cheerful scores ever written for a musical. For me this is his best work, there isn’t one song that isn’t great and it’s difficult to understand why this show failed when it opened in 1974. 

There are two cast albums of this show and it’s very difficult for me to choose one of the two. Both are wonderful and their casts are terrific, but since the London recording is longer I’ll go for this one.

 

The London cast has Howard McGillin as Mack and I confess that, although he has a better voice than Robert Preston, I still prefer Preston in the role. But it’s the ladies that really convinced me to choose this cast recording instead of the fabulous Original Broadway Cast. Caroline O’Connor is flawless as Mabel and I love her renditions of “Look What Happened to Mabel” and “Time Heals Everything”; as Lottie, Kathryn Evans sounds perfect and delivers the most riveting of all the versions I heard of my favorite song of this show - “Tap Your Troubles Away”.

 

Among the unforgettable songs, there’s the strong “Movies Were Movies”, the beautiful “I Won’t Send Roses” and the delightful “Hundreds of Girls”, that brings to the memory the movies of Busby Berkeley”. I always get high when I hear “When Mabel Comes in the Room” and “Big Time”, and a big time you’ll have while listen to this amazing score.

 

It’s sad that no ones writes scores like this any more and I only hope that one day this show will get the success it deserves. I think it would do great at the City Center Encores.

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42ND STREET - Broadway Revival Cast - 2001 / Music by Harry Warren and Lyrics by Al Dubin

Starring: Kate Levering, David Elder, Christine Ebersole, Michael Cumpsty, Mary Testa, Jonathan Freeman, Mylinda Hull, Michael Arnold, Catherine Wreford, Megan Sikora

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Inspired by those delicious black and white movies that Busby Berkeley did for Warner, this show delivers the unforgettable songs of Harry Warren and Al Dubin (“Young and Healthy”, “Lullaby of Broadway”, “We’re in the Money” and “Dames” among others).

 

This Broadway revival recording is much better than the original one, with improved orchestrations and a few more numbers, among those the delightful “With Plenty of Money and You” and “I Only Have Eyes for You”.

 

The cast lead by a terrific Christine Ebersole and a manly Michael Cumptsy couldn’t sound better. In supporting roles, Mary Testa and Jonathan Freeman are great and, as the young couple, David Elder and Kate Levering sing like if they were in one of those black and white classics.

 

There’s only one problem with this score; I can’t keep still. Whenever I’m listening to it I just have to “go into my dance”.

 

So join those happy feet in one of the most dazzling scores Broadway adapted for the stage.

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STEEL PIER - Original Broadway Cast - 1997 / Music by John Kander and Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Starring: Karen Ziemba, Daniel McDonald, Gregory Harrison, Debra Monk, Ronn Carroll, Kristin Chenoweth, Jim Newman

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: In one of the songs they ask, “Why don’t you come to the Steel Pier?” and it’s a pity that the public didn’t went to see it on Broadway when it opened. But thank God someone decided to record it and the result is this terrific CD.  

For me this is Kander & Ebb’s best work since CHICAGO. The score sounds like pure Broadway and has a theatrical feeling missing from most new musicals. Among the songs there are the delightful “Second Chance”, the riveting “Willing to the Ride”, the haunting “First You Dream” and the delicious “Leave the World Behind”. The orchestrations by Michael Gibson are a match made in heaven and the whole recording is simply wonderful!

 

The cast couldn’t be better. Karen Ziemba shines more than ever, Daniel McDonald has a flawless sweet voice, Debra Monk is in great shape and delivers the hilarious “Everybody’s Girl”, Gregory Harrison is in perfect command of his strong voice and Kristin Chenoweth shines in the funny “Two Little Words”.

 

If you never listened to this score, you don’t know what you’re missing. So, come to the Steel Pier and you’ll never be “gloomy or glum”.

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WHOOP-DEE-DOO! - Original Cast - 1993 / Music and Lyrics by Dick Gallagher, Peter Morris & Mark Waldrop

Starring: Howard Crabtree, Keith Cromwell, Tommy Femia, David Lowenstein, Peter Morris, Jay Rogers, Ron Skobel, Alan Tulin, Mark Waldrop

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: I guess this gay revue isn’t for everyone’s taste, but it sure is for mine! This is very entertaining and I wish I could have seen it on stage, where I believe the score would work even better. 

With songs and sketches by Dick Gallagher, Peter Morris and Mark Waldrop, this is the work of people who love and respect the Musical. They come up with very funny numbers, of which my favorite is the hilarious “You Are My Idol”, sung and acted by a talented male cast.

 

Among the numbers, there’s a very Jerry Herman mini-musical called “Nancy: The Unauthorized Musical”, followed by the funny “Though to Be a Fairy”. There’s a good tap-dance number, “As Plain as the Nose on My Face”, and a jazzy “I Was Born This Way”. One last word for Tommy Femia, who delivers “The Magic of Me” as Judy Garland and sounds just like her.

 

The last song is called “Less is More” and in the case of this score, I hope there was more. Really enjoyable!

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EASTER PARADE - Original Movie Soundtrack - 1948 / Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin

Starring: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, Peter Lawford

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: This 1948 MGM musical isn’t one of my favorites (although I love some of the numbers), but its soundtrack is pure gold. 

The score, by Irving Berlin, mixes old Berlin tunes with new ones specially written for the movie. In fact, the movie was built around the previously released title song. To perform the songs, MGM teamed for the first and, I believe, only time Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, with Ann Miller and Peter Lawford in supporting roles. The result is a true treasure for everyone who loves Irving Berlin and the magic musicals of Hollywood golden age.

 

One of the highlights of the CD is a number that was wrongly cut from the movie. The song is “Mr. Monotony”, written for the movie, and with it Garland gave us one of her best numbers ever. Fred Astaire is at his best with the terrific “Steppin’ Out With My Baby”. Another great moment is Ann Miller’s exciting rendition of “Shakin’ the Blues Away” (written in 1927). But there’s more, Garland and Astaire have the best of times with “A Couple of Swells” and both sing separately “It Only Happens When I Dance With You”, one of Berlin’s most beautiful songs.

 

Well, Easter is here and so it’s a great time to discover or rediscover this unforgettable soundtrack. Happy Easter!

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COLETTE COLLAGE - Studio Cast - 1994 / Music by Harvey Schmidt and Lyrics by Tom Jones

Starring: Judy Blazer, Judy Kaye, Jason Graae, Jonathan Freeman, George Lee Andrews, Rita Gardner, Mary Setrakian, Walter Willison

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Based on the life of Colette, this musical had its start in 1982 on a “out of town” production, starring Diana Rigg in the title role, which never made it to Broadway. Two more versions of the show were produced and the last one, in 1991, was titled COLETTE COLLAGE and sub-titled “two musicals about Colette”. That’s the one that was turned in this delightful studio cast recording. 

For me, this is Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones (11O IN THE SHADE, THE FANTASTIKS) best work. With terrific orchestration by Larry Moore, this is a rich score, with some haunting ballads (“Joy”. “I Miss You”), funny musical numbers like “Two Claudines”, “Riviera Nights” or “Ooh-La-La” and beautiful songs (“Be My Lady”, “The Room Is Filled With You”).

 

The cast couldn’t be better! Judy Blazer as the young Colette and Judy Kaye as the older Colette sound perfectly in their roles and both shine in her numbers. Jason Graae is at his best and Jonathan Freeman has the opportunity to show his big talent.

 

A highly rewarding recording, it deserves to be part of every musical lover’s library.

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SHINE! - National Music Theatre Network Cast- 2001 / Music by Roger Anderson and Lyrics by Lee Goldsmith

Starring: Jeremiah Miller, Andrea Burns, James Celentano, Bill Buell, Brooks Ashmanskas, Tim Ewing, Carole Shelley, Matt Shepard, Harvey Evans, J. Brandon Savage, Daniel Frank Kelley, Rose McGuire

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW:This is how the Broadway hit NEWSIES should sound; unfortunately, SHINE!, based on the works by Horatio Alger, never made it to Broadway. It began its life in 1982, but it was only in 2001 that someone decided to make a cast recording of this melodious and old fashioned score, that sometimes reminds me of OLIVER!.  

So, what we have here is the National Musical Theatre Network showcase, which featured Jeremiah Miller in the leading role and Carole Shelley, Harvey Evans, Brooks Ashmanskas and Andrea Burns in other roles.

 

I confess I’m not a fan of the cold synthesizer musical arrangements that we hear in this recording, but the songs by Roger Anderson and Lee Goldsmith are really good and deserved a full orchestra recording.

 

This score sounds better than most of the new ones that opened on Broadway in the last years and it sure is more enjoyable and hummable than most of those. Among the songs, my favorites are “Wall Street Lament”, “Maybe Today” (beautifully sung by Andrea Burns), the possible big production numbers “Put Your Money In” and “Keeping Up With The Times”, the delicious “Partners”, “The Room” (Carole Shelley has a good time with it) and the title song.

 

On the official site of this musical, you can listen to full orchestrate tracks and it makes all the difference. But even in this “small” recording, the score has plenty to be please us and it’s a must for fans of traditional musicals like me. It’s really a show that deserves to be discovered!

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ANYTHING GOES - Broadway Revival Cast- 2011 / Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter

Starring:Sutton Foster, Joel Grey, Colin Donnell, Laura Osnes, Adam Godley, John McMartin, Jessica Walter, Jessica Stone, Walter Charles, Robert Creighton, Andrew Cao, Raymond J. Lee

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The score of this musical is classic Broadway and one of the best written by Cole Porter. As you all know, there have been several recordings of it through the years. Ethel Merman, created the character of Reno Sweeney on the original Broadway production, but other followed, among them the likes of Patti Lupone, Elaine Paige and Kim Criswell. Now we have a new cast recording, this time with Sutton Foster in the leading role and, guess what? This is my favorite rendition of the score.

I know many people don’t like Foster that much, but I’m not among them. I think her Reno is livelier than any other of the ones I heard before and she brings an energy to this recording that is missing from some of the previous recordings. Just listen to her in the title song or belting “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and you’ll understand what I mean. At her side, Joel Grey is perfect as Moonface Martin. Together they deliver a really comic “Friendship”. As the romantic couple, Colin Donnell and Laura Osnes sound loving in “Easy to Love” and “All Through the Night”; they also give us a lovely “It’s De-Lovely”.

One of my favorite songs is the funny “Buddie, Beware”, sung with delight by Jessica Stone. I’m also very fond of “The Gypsy in Me”, here sung by Adam Godley.

What this new CD has more than any of the previous recordings is dance music. And I love that! The new dance arrangements by David Chase are really exciting; “Anything Goes” never sounded better and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” never sounded less religious and more sexy.

I know we probably didn’t need another recording of this score, but when it’s as good as this one, I don’t mind. Give it a try; it’s kind of contagious!

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THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER - Studio Cast - 1998 / Music by Claibe Richardson and Lyrics by Stephen Cole

Starring: Ron Raines, Dorothy Loundon, Sally Mayes, Frankie J. Galasso, Andrea Bowen, George Lee Andresws, Erin Hill, Jonathan Freeman, Alet Oury

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Charles Laughton’s only movie as director is one of the darkest and more poetic fairy tales in the Cinema story. It’s simply beautiful and haunting! When I heard that it was to be transformed into a musical I feared the worst. But, although I never saw it in stage, it works perfectly on this concept album.

Composer Claibe Richardson wrote a score as haunting as the movie, which begins just like a fairy tale with the great Dorothy Loudon telling a story. Stephen Cole’s lyrics are very character oriented and respectful to the spirit of the movie; just listen to the powerful “Love & Hate”. In the whole it’s a rich score, where we can find a kind of gospel number, “The River Jesus”, a beautiful ballad that transforms into a highly dramatic song, “Wedding Night”, a playful number that ends in murder, “Trading Secrets”, and a sexy blues little number, “Ruby at the Drug Store”.

The cast was very well chosen and it’s hard to imagine someone else than Ron Raines as Harry (the Robert Mitchum role). His strong dramatic voice is perfect, that’s evident on his first song “The Lord Will Provide”, and he never fails to deliver the goods. Dorothy Loudon sounds sweeter than ever and has her big moment with “One More Harvest”. Sally Mayes shines in “Lookin’ Ahead” and, as the kids, Frankie J. Galasso and Andrea Bowen are really convincing.

It’s one of those recordings that you should listen to with your eyes closed, imagining the dark fairy tale that its unfolding. Its evocative score and great cast makes it a must for any musical fan.

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SING BEFORE BREAKFAST - 1991 Music and Lyrics by Various

Starring: Paige O'Hara, Kevin McMahon, Ann Morrison, Gordon Goodman, Gregg Edelman, George Dvorsky, Kevin Ligon, Randy Graff, Jason Graee, Diana Canova, Rebecca Luker, Greg MacKellan, Adam Gruper, Anna Marie Gutierrez

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Subtitled “songs from the great Talking Pictures Musicals, 1929-1939”, this recording was made in 1990 and released in 1991 by Shadowland Music Rialto Recordings. I don’t know if it sold many copies or not, but one thing I know, it should have been a hit!

Like they wrote on the CD sleeve, “once you entered this world, the harsh realities of the Depression were mocked – or more often simply forgotten – by the happy-go-lucky denizens of the talkies”. And believe me, this is a different world, where a simple melody lift-up our heart and a contagious rhythm make us tap. The fact that we’re living in another Depression era makes this even more important. Unfortunately, today the talkies don’t give us this kind of songs, but thankfully we can travel back in time and listen to these old wonderful tunes.

There are 28 tracks here and all of them are a pleasure to the soul. Things start with Paige O’Hara singing a delicious melody of “Good Morning Glory” and “Sing Before Breakfast” and end with Kevin McMahon “Sweepin’ the Clouds Away”. My favorite track is the amusing “Give Her a Kiss” that Rodgers & Hart wrote for the movie THE PHANTOM PRESIDENT; here it’s sung by Ann Morrison, who also has a terrific time with “I Love to Walk in the Rain”. Gordon Goodman manly delivers “One Song” from Disney’s SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. Another highlight is a Harry Warren & Al Dubin medley sung by Gregg Edelman, George Dvorsky and Kevin Ligon. There are many more enjoyable and, sometimes, forgotten songs here, and they are all sung by a terrific cast that includes Randy Graff, Jason Graee, Diana Canova, Rebecca Luker, Greg MacKellan, Adam Gruper and Anna Marie Gutierrez.

This album is a little jewel, with plenty to discover and it should be part of every musical fan CD library.

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HELLO, DOLLY! - Original Movie Soundtrack - 1969 / Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman

Starring: Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford, Marianne McAndrew, Danny Lockin, E. J. Peaker, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Tune

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: On the day of my 11th birthday my mother took me to the cinema to see HELLO,DOLLY!. Three things happened on that day. I fell in love with the movie, I fell in love with Barbra Streisand and I fell in love with the Jerry Herman (of whom I never heard before) score. Later, much later, I discovered that a lot of people hated the fact that Streisand took the leading role, but for me she was perfection.

After seeing the movie I went crazy looking for the movie soundtrack, but I was only able to get a copy of it (on a audio tape) years later. Since then it become my favorite of all movie soundtracks, a place it still holds “near and dear to my heart”. When, later, I bought the Broadway cast recording with Carol Channing, I confess I was a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Carol, but she didn’t have the pipes of Miss Streisand.

But let me talk about this unforgettable soundtrack. Things begin beautifully with the amusing “Just Leave Everything to Me” that suits Streisand’s talents; later she has another great comic number a la Mae West with “So Long Dearie”. Between these two numbers she strongly delivers the powerful “Before the Parade Passes By” and no one sings it like she does. She’s also at her best with the sad ballad “Love is Only Love”.

It’s true, Walter Matthaw is a terrible singer, but he has his moment with the sexist “It Takes a Woman”. On the other hand, Michael Crawford is great as Cornelius, sings the sweet “It Takes a Moment” (later used in WALL.E) and together with Marianne McAndrew, Danny Lockin and E.J. Peaker give us the amusing “Elegance”. McAndrew, as Irene Molloy, has her solo with “Ribbons Down My Back”, the poorest song of the score.

Back to Streisand and my three favorite numbers of the movie. The third one is the terrific “Dancing”, which unfortunately wasn’t recorded in its entirety for the soundtrack. The second one is the fabulous title song, where she leads the male company and has a classic moment with Louis Armstrong. The first one is the contagious and exciting “Put on Your Sunday Clothes”; I’m passionate about this song! I think it’s one of the best ever written and it never sounded better than in this soundtrack.

I could put here all the positive adjectives I know, but that’s not necessary. I simply love this movie and its soundtrack. They are both irresistible! If you never listened to it, please say hello to Dolly/Streisand and company, you won’t regret it.

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THE BIOGRAPH GIRL - Original London Cast - 1980 / Music by David Heneker and Lyrics by Warner Brown & David Heneker

Starring: Sheila White, Bruce Barry, Kate Revill, Jane Hardy, Guy Siner, Ron Berglas

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: This musical opened at the West End in 1980 and closed after 57 performances. The fact that the production flopped could have been the death of the show, but fortunately someone (Norman Newell) thought they should do a cast recording and at least the score leaves on.

The subject of this musical was similar to the one of MACK AND MABEL and, like that show, the result is a very tuneful score. Written by David (HALF A SIXPENCE) Heneker, who co-wrote the lyrics with Warner Brown, the songs are easily assimilated and catching, with atmospheric orchestrations by Michael Reed & Alan Roper. The cast is also in perfect tune with the era of the silent movies, with Sheila White delivering a terrific performance as Mary Pickford.

Things start with the nostalgic “The Moving Picture Show” and move to the amusing “Working in Flickers”, sung by a shy Mary Pickford. Later, Lillian Gish sings two sad ballads “Every Lady Needs a Master” and “More Than a Man”. The one and only D. W. Griffith leads the company with the epic “Beyond Babel” and Adolph Zukor leads the company at the rhythm of tango with “The Industry”. But there’s more to enjoy, like Mack Sennett’s “I Just Want to Make Him Laugh”. The only odd song is the modern, kind of out of place, “Diggin’ Gold Dust”.

My favorite songs are the delicious “I Like to be the Way I Am in My Own Front Parlour” and the very 20s “Nineteen Twenty Five” and the title song. It’s true, I have a love affair with the music of the 20s and so it’s easy for me to love these songs.

This is true Broadway in its best style; traditional, funny and tuneful! I just hope that one day someone will give this show another chance. Until there, I hope you’ll enjoy the delights of this delightful cast recording.

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THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE - Original Movie Soundtrack - 1976 / Music and Lyrics by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman

Starring: Richard Chamberlain, Gemma Craven, Annette Crosbie, Michael Hordern, Christopher Gable, Kenneth More, Edith Evans, Julian Orchard, Lally Bowers

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The brothers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman are mainly known for their work for Disney, that includes MARY POPPINS and BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS, but for me their best work was the score they wrote for this 1976 British movie.

The first time I saw this new adaptation of the famous Cinderella tale was back in 1977 (I was 13 years old). I was instantly conquered by its charms and by its melodious score. One song in particular sent me to heaven and stayed forever in my mind – “Suddenly It Happens”. For me, it’s the best Cinderella song ever written and it’s one of my all time favorite songs. But that’s more to enjoy, a lot more.

A solid group of British actors, not famous for their singing talent, have a ball as the members of the court and give us the funny “What Has Love Got To Do With Getting Married?” and “Protocoligorically Correct”; among that group of actors there’s dancer Christopher Gable, who leads the cast into the big production number “Position and Positioning”. As the Fairy Godmother, Annette Crosbie couldn’t be sweeter and it’s she who introduces the magical “Suddenly It Happens”.

As the Prince, Richard Chamberlain is truly charming and reveals a nice singing voice with “Why Can’t I Be Two People?” and perfectly duets with his Cinderella in the romantic ballad “Secret Kingdom” and in the beautiful waltz “He Danced With Me / She Danced With Me”. As Cinderella, Gemma Craven couldn’t be better; she makes her way to our heart with “Once I Was Loved” and breaks it with the sad “Tell Him Anything (But Not That I Love Him)” and “I Can’t Forget the Melody”. But she’s at her best with the terrific “Suddenly It Happens”.

I don’t know if the movie was a big box-office hit, but the Sherman Brothers got two Oscar nominations for their work: Best Original Song Score and Its Adaptation and Best Original Song (He Danced With Me / She Danced With Me). They should have won both. Anyway, although this musical was later adapted to the stage, this original movie soundtrack is the only recording of the score available and I strongly recommend it. It’s magic, melodious, charming, uplifting and deserves to be discovered!

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OB, BROTHER! - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 1981 / Music Michael Valenti and Lyrics by Donald Driver

Starring: Judy Kaye, Harry Groener, Bruce Adler, David-James Carroll, Mary Mastrantonio, Larry Marshall, Alyson Reed, Joe Morton, Richard B. Shull, Alan Weeks

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: In 1938 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart adapted Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” into one of their best musicals – THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE. In 1981, Michael Valenti and Donald Driver took the same Shakespeare play, placed the story in the Middle East and the result was OH, BROTHER! Unfortunately, this new show didn’t do well on Broadway (it closed after three performances), but even so it got a cast recording.

When, and if, you play this CD don’t expect to discover a forgotten gem. It isn’t. What you got here is a very entertaining score, best described in the title of one of its songs – “A Loud & Funny Song”, that by the way it’s my favorite on the whole album. Yes, this is kind of loud, but it’s also very funny.

The idea of taking the action to the Middle East works perfectly in numbers like “We Love an Old Story” and “Opec Maiden”. I guess it didn’t work on stage, but I believe that, besides the titles already mentioned, songs like “How Do You Want Me?” and “Everybody’s Calls Me By My Name” should get a life. There’s also a jazzy “My World’s Comin’ Unwrapped”, sung with style by Joe Morton and a very seventies “It’s a Man World” sung by the ladies and the company.

Let me get your attention by telling you who the ladies are - Judy Kaye, Alyson Reed and Mary Mastrantonio (before being known as Mary Elisabeth Mastrantonio). Alone they sound great, but together they had a wonderful time with the winning “A Loud & Funny Song”. As for the boys, besides Joe Morton, there’s Harry Groener, David-James Carroll, Alan Weeks and Richard B. Shull.

If you love musical comedy, I’m sure you can have a good time with this cast recording and some of the songs are really catchy.

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STRIKE UP THE BAND - Studio Cast Recording - 2011 / Music George Gershwin and Lyrics by Ira Gerhswin

Starring: Brent Barrett, Don Chastain, Rebecca Luker, Jason Graae, Beth Fowler, Charles Goff, Juliet Lambert, Jeff Lyons, James Rocco

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: We had to wait 20 years for this studio cast recording. It was about time!

Let me explain. This Gershwin musical had two versions, one in 1927 and one in 1930, and in 1991 a studio cast was made of both versions but, for reasons unknown to me, the 1930 version was put on hold and only now, thanks to PC Classics (Tommy Krasker was part of the 1991 group), we’re able to listen to it.

I guess that if, like me, you have the 1927 version you may think you don’t need the 1930 one. After all, the double CD of that recording had (as a kind of bonus) a few tracks from this one. But if you like classic musicals as much as I do, you shouldn’t miss it.

The 1930 version changed the main subject of the musical from cheese to chocolate and things became lighter and, for my delight, it seems more dance was introduced. As for the Gershwin’s score it didn’t lose any of its qualities and there’s plenty to enjoy here, in fact there isn’t a dull track here. From the star cast to the chorus, everyone involved gives their best and the result is a great album, with great orchestrations and the delicious sound of Broadway’s golden age.

I can’t resist numbers like “I Mean to Say”, “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and “Hangin’ Around with You”, here sung by the charming duo of Jason Graae and Juliet Lambert. It’s a pity that Rebecca Luker and Brent Barrett only share a song, the melodious “Soon” (in the 1927 version they had more duets, among those one of my favorites – “Meadow Serenade”), but Barrett strongly delivers the title song. Another couple that enjoys a funny moment, “If I Become the President”, is Beth Fowler and Charles Goff. I also love “Mademoiselle in New Rochelle”, “How About a Boy?” and “Ring-a-Ding-a-Ding-Dong Dell”. They sure don’t write songs like this anymore.

This is a great way to introduce STRIKE UP THE BAND to new generations and this is the kind of CD that should be in every Musical fan’s library. I have to end this review with a big thanks to PS Classics; you did it again!

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THE BOOK OF MORMON - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 2011 / Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Starring: Josh Gad, Andrew Rannells, Nikki M. James, Rory O'Malley, Michael Potts, Lewis Cleale, Scott Barnhardt, Justin Bohon, Darlesia Cearcy, Kevin Duda, Asmeret Ghebremichael

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The idea of a musical about Mormons may sound strange, but years ago there was a musical on Broadway entitled URINETOWN and it was a hit, so why don’t give Mormons a chance to sing and dance? The result was a big winner at this year Tonys and a box-office success.

I haven’t seen the show yet (living in Lisbon, Portugal, makes it a little bit difficult), but the Broadway Cast recording has already arrived at my hands and I had a fun time listening to it.

Written by the guys responsible for the famous “South Park”, with the help of AVENUE Q’s Robert Lopez, this score has a lot of four letter words in its lyrics and sometimes I think they went too far (“Joseph Smith American Moses”), that meaning it isn’t for everyone’s taste. Even so, the lyrics are sometimes hilarious and we forget all the “sinful” words” (“Hasa Diga Eebowai”). The authors we’re really inspired and their imagination and humor is, most of the time, contagious; just listen to “All American Prophet”, “I Believe” or “Turn It Off” to understand what I mean.

Surprisingly, most of the music is melodious. Although this isn’t exactly my type of music (sometimes it’s too modern for me - “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” or “Man Up”) there are some catchy tunes like “Two by Two” and, no surprise here, my favorite “Turn It Off”. Some of the songs reminded me of Stephen Schwartz.
The cast sounds great and the “saint” boys really shine here. Andrew Rannells strongly delivers “I Believe”, Josh Gad has his big moment in the duet “Baptize Me” and Rory O’Malley has a terrific time with “Turn It Off”. On the female department, Nikki M. James is a revelation with “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” and “Baptize Me”.

I’ve to confess that if I had power over the Tonys, I would have given the Best Original Score to SISTER ACT, but even so this is a joyful score, with plenty to discover and to laugh with.

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CHICAGO - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 1975 / Music by John Kander and Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Starring: Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, Jerry Orbach, Barney Martin, Mary McCarty, M. O'Haughey

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Let me begin by saying that this is my all time favorite score.

There are several recordings of this musical, including a fine movie soundtrack, and although the terrific Broadway Revival Cast is more complete, I have to choose the fantastic Original Broadway Cast starring Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jeff Orbach.

When I was 12 years old, my parents gave me this cast album as a Christmas gift and, from the first time I played it to today, it never fails to give me a fabulous time. Everything in it is perfect: the brilliant songs, the exciting Ralph Burns orchestrations, the decadent front cover, a cast made in heaven and a strong theatrical feeling that is missing from all the other recordings of the score. Nevertheless, I’ve to confess that I can’t resist the contagious “Me and My Baby“ and “Hot Honey Rag” tracks of the Broadway Revival Cast.

There isn’t a song here that I don’t like (not an easy task), but I always have a special spot in my heart for the emotional “My Own Best Friend”, the terrific “Nowadays” and the genial “Cell Block Tango”.

When I’m listening to it, all I have to do is close my eyes and I’m there, in a dark theatre with the best cast in earth and Bob Fosse’s debauched staging. It’s an unforgettable experience!

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NICK & NORA - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 1991 / Music by Charles Strouse and Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr.

Starring: Barry Bostwick, Joanna Gleason, Christine Baranski, Chris Sarandon, Faith Prince, Debra Monk, Yvette Lawrence, Remak Ramsat, Michael Lombard

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The musical NICK & NORA opened on Broadway on December 8, 1991, and closed on December 15, 1991. It only lasted 9 performances. Even so, it got a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score, Music by Charles Strouse and Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr., and someone had the good idea of releasing the score on CD.

I don’t know how it worked on stage, but there’s plenty to enjoy in the cast recording. Among the songs, there’s one of my all time favorites, “Everybody’s Wants to Do a Musical”, sung with gusto by a terrific Christine Baranksi, in what I believe is her musical theatre debut. In the leading roles, Barry Bostwick & Joanna Gleason, sound just swell and had a good time with songs like “Is There Anything Better Than Dancing” and “As Long As You’re Happy”. Also in the cast there’s Faith Prince, who strongly delivers “Men”, Debra Monk with the funny “People Get Hurt”, Chris Sarandon doesn’t sound bad with the ballad “Class” and Yvette Lawrence gives us a kind of out-of-place “Boom Chicka Boom”.

As you can see, this had a really strong cast, but somehow (I read somewhere the problem was the book) it failed on Broadway and that’s a pity. Composer Charles Strouse score (his last for Broadway, at least until now) deserves to be discovered. His songs are melodious and catchy, with excellent orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, and the lyrics by Maltby Jr are very character oriented and funny. Besides “Everybody’s Wants to Do a Musical”, I’m very fond of “Busy Night at Lorraine’s”, where the entire cast reveals their feelings for the murdered Lorraine (Faith Prince’s character).

So forget all about this show detractors and give the cast recording a chance. You may get a nice surprise.

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THE ADDAMS FAMILY - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 2009 / Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

Starring: Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth, Kevin Chamberlain, Jack Hoffman, Krysta Rodriguez, Wesley Taylor, Carolee Carmello, Terrence Mann

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: As far as new musicals go, this one had a lot in its favor: famous characters, a terrific cast, a promising composer and a personal look. Unfortunately, by listening to this cast recording (I haven’t seen the show yet), it seems things didn’t work that well.

I can’t say this it totally bad, but the songs sound, with a few exceptions, too much alike and the cast doesn’t have big chances to shine. Nathan Lane sings like he just exited THE PRODUCERS and the rest of the cast, Bebe Neuwirth included, don’t have anything that make their performances personal.

Nevertheless, there’re two numbers that I really enjoyed. Both are in the traditional Broadway style I love so much and, for me, are the only songs that stand-up in the entire score. I’m talking about “Just Around the Corner” and “Let’s Not Talk About Anything Else But Love”.

The big problem is the fact that everyone believed this could really be a good bet for a musical or, at least, a funny one, but the dark humor of the original material doesn’t translate into the songs. But the show is doing well at the box-office, so maybe the score works better on stage.

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JANE KRAKOWSKI: THE LAZIESTE GIRL IN TOWN - Live Recording - 2009

Starring: Jane Krakowski

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Recorded live at Feinstein’s, Jane’s solo album is a great surprise and makes for a perfectly enjoyable listening.

Mainly know for her work in the television series “Ally McBeal” and “30 Rock”; Jane is in fact a Broadway baby in every sense. She can act, sing and dance, and does it all with talent. I was lucky to see her live on stage in NINE and GUYS AND DOLLS and she was terrific in both roles. She also had a warm quality that embrace us, making us fall in love with her.

It’s that warm quality that makes this CD so special. She delivers all her numbers and conducts the act like she was among friends and I’m sure that by the end of the evening every member of the audience wishes to be her friend.

She excels with a hilarious version of “Zip” (with lyrics written specially for her by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman) and gives us the strangest version of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” I’ve ever listened. We can feel the love she puts in her renditions of the title song, “My Handy Man” and “Thirteen Men”” among others, she even makes Eartha Kitt’s “Old Fashioned Girl” her own. And her encore number, “Rubber Duckie” is truly delicious.

I strongly recommend everyone to meet “The Laziest Gal in Town”; in fact, Jane is the nicest girl (with a naughty sexy side that made her irresistible) in town and it’s a pleasure to meet her. One of the CDs of the year.

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LIFE BEGINS AT 8:40 - Studio Cast Recording - 2010 / Music by Harold Arlen and Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Yip Harburg

Starring: Kate Baldwin, Philip Chaffin, Christopher Fitzgerald, Montego Glover, Rebecca Luker, Brad Oscar, Faith Prince, Graham Rowat, Jessica Stone

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: No one who knows me will be surprised to learn that this studio cast recording is, so far, my favorite CD of the year. They know I’m a sucker for an old fashion Broadway score and I love this innocent but naughty musical.

Of the entire score of this 1934 musical I only knew “You’re a Builder-Upper” in a candy version by Julie Andrews, so the rest was all-new for me and there’re several good songs in here that are worthy of discovery like “Spring Fever”, “Shoein’ the Mare” and “I’m Not Myself”.

PS Classics couldn’t get a better cast to give life to this Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin & Yip Harburg score and everyone sounds like they’re enjoying every minute of it. Everyone has a chance to shine singing ballads or comic numbers or big production numbers, and they do: Kate Baldwin with “Spring Fever”, Faith Prince with “I Couldn’t Hold My Man”, Christopher Fitzgerald and Jessica Stone with “You’re a Builder-Upper”, Rebecca Luker with “It Was Long Ago”, Montego Glover with “Shoein’ the Mare”, Brad Oscar with “Things” and Philip Chaffin (with Baldwin) with “Fun to Be Fooled”.

On the old golden days even lesser known shows like this one had interesting scores, rich with melody, humor and contagious rhythms. This may not be almost as good as last years KITTY’S KISSES, but it’s much better than most of the new shows that opened on Broadway and Off-Broadway last seasons.

This is a must for all musical fans and we should all be grateful to Tommy Krasker for producing the CD and to Larry Moore for restoring the score. Please boys, give us more delightful recordings like this one.

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A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC - Broadway Revival Cast Recording - 2010 / Music byand Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alexander Hanson, Aaron Lazar, Angela Lansbury, Erin Davie, Leigh Ann Larkin, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Ramona Mallory, Stephen R. Buntrock, Bradley Dean, Katherine Leigh Doherty, Marissa McGowan, Betsy Morgan, Jayne Paterson, Kevin David Thomas, Keaton Whittaker, Karen Murphy, Erin Stewart, Kevin Vortmann.

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: For “A Little Night Music”, Stephen Sondheim, wrote the most haunting of all Broadway scores. There’s a hypnotic quality to it that drawn us deeper and deeper with each listening.

Sondheim’s most famous song, “Send in the Clowns”, is part of this beautiful score but, although I love it, my favorite song is “Every Day a Little Death” (that only happened after a few listenings of the score and suddenly that song become one of my all time favorites).

But must of you know the virtues of the score and probably have one or more recordings of it. For me the best one is the London National Cast starring Judi Dench as a perfect Desiree. Now there’s a new one, probably the most complete (I missed “My Husband the Pig”) of them all, and it includes parts of the dialogue to help people understand what’s going on.

I confess that, although the score sounds great as ever, this isn’t an exciting rendition of it. My big problem is Catherine Zeta-Jones (I understand that thanks to her an all new audience will discover this show); she doesn’t convince me as Desiree. She sounds false and her hush voice doesn’t do full justice to the role. The rest of the cast is very good, specially Alexander Hanson as Enrik, but the strongest reason to buy this recording is the presence of the one and only Angela Lansbury, who delivers the best “Liaisons” that I’ve ever heard.

Anyway, even with its faults, this recording sounds beautiful and haunting.

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MEMPHIS - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 2009 / Music by David Bryan and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro

Starring: Chad Kimbal, Montego Glover, Derrick Baskin, J. Bernard Calloway, James Monroe Iglehart, Michael McGrath, Cass Morgan

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: I’m probably the worst person in the world to review this kind of score. I love the traditional Broadway sound and I’m very resistant to other kind of music. Sometimes I found modern musical scores that I truly enjoy (SIDE SHOW comes to mind), but that’s rare and MEMPHIS isn’t one of them.

The best thing about it is its high power energy and I believe it can really work on stage, but to give it a Tony for best new score it’s too much.

As usual in new musicals, many of the songs are too much alike and only a couple stands out, “Someday” and “Make Me Stronger”. The cast give it all with talent and strong voices, with Montego Glover being the big revelation. This lady can really sing! As for Chad Kimball, he rocks with “Tear Down the House” and a couple of other songs.

I’ve already played the CD a few times, but its loudly score doesn’t grow in me; at least it isn’t boring. I’m sure people with broader tastes than I will enjoy its rhythm and if you like Rock ‘N’ Roll this one is for you.

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MY VAUDEVILLE MAN -Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording- 2008 / Music by Bob Johnston and Lyrics by Bob Johnston and Jeff Hochhauser

Starring: Shonn Wiley and Karen Murphy

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Two actors, an original score, a small orchestra, a true story, lot’s of tap dancing and the result is an almost enjoyable little score.

The show suffers from a problem that is common to many new musicals, most of the songs sound exactly the same and it becomes hard to distinguish one from the other. Here the mother’s numbers sound almost like one long song (exception for “How Can I Put It Any Plainer?”) and only a couple of the son’s numbers (“The Tap Drunk” and “My Shadow”, the best song of the score) are kind of exciting (okay, there are traditional tap numbers).

The two actors, Shonn Wiley and Karen Murphy, are good, but I believe the score may benefit if played by a big orchestra and with better orchestrations. As it is, it’s only a small musical that probably works better on stage than on CD.

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PROMISES PROMISES - Broadway Revival Cast Recording - 2010 / Music by Burt Bacharach and Lyrics by Hal David

Starring: Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, Tony Goldwyn, Katie Finneran, Dick Latessa, Brooks Ashmanskas, Peter Benson, Seán Martin Hingston, Ken Land

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Let me begin by saying that I never thought that the original Broadway cast recording was that good. It’s true that Burt Bacharach and Hal David had a particular enjoyable music style, but I’m not sure it could work on a musical.

Forward in time and here’s the revival cast of that show, with a couple of Bacharach & David standards, “I Say a Little Prayer” and “A House Is Not a Home”, added to the score and for me that makes the difference. Thanks to that songs and a few that I enjoyed from the original, and, finally, I like this score.

The cast (although I don’t think Sean Hayes has a great voice) and the new orchestrations turn it more lively and less dated. Even a number that I really didn’t care in the original, “A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing”, here, thanks to Kate Finneran, becomes a highlight.

Kristin Chenoweth may not look the part, but she can really sing and that she does with gusto, specially with my favorite song of the score “Knowing When to Leave” and with “A House Is Not a Home”. Dick Latessa and Hayes have a good time with “A Young Pretty Girl Like You”. As for Hayes, he gives his best with the title song and with “She Likes Basketball”. Tony Goldwyn has his moment with the melodious “Wanting Things” and the company delivers an energetic “Turkey Lurkey Time”.

Probably most musical fans will always prefer the original, but not me. I can’t say this is great, but it’s an enjoyable listening.

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FINIAN'S RAINBOW - Broadway Revival Cast Recording - 2009 / Music by Burton Lane and Lyrics by Yip Harburg

Starring: Jim Norton, Kate Baldwin, Cheyenne Jackson, Christopher Fitzgerald, Terri White, Chuck Cooper, Bernard Dotson, James Stovall, Devin Richards

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: This new cast recording of FINIAN’S RAINBOW it’s the third rendition of the score that becomes part of my CD library. Did I need another one? Probably not, but when a score is as delightful as this one, there’s always time to listen to new interpretations of these old songs.

This is probably the more complete version of the score, including lots of dance music, which I believe was previously unrecorded (“Dance of the Golden Crock” for example) and a winning cast.

I confess I’m not crazy about Kate Baldwin’s Sharon (I prefer Melissa Errico in the Irish Repertory Theatre recording), who delivers her songs with gusto. I think her voice is sometimes too strident for my taste, I prefer when she sings with a lower voice. At her side, Cheyenne Jackson sounds perfect as Woody (he beautifully sings “Old Devil Moon”) and Christopher Fitzgerald has a good time as Og. It’s him who sings my all time favorite song of the score, “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love”.

But there’s more, Terri White strongly leads the company with “Necessity” and Chuck Cooper with the help of Bernard Dotson, James Stovall and Devin Richards, gives us an exciting “The Begat”.

Of the three recordings of this classic Burton Lane and Yip Harburg’s score, this is my favorite one and there’s always time to know “How Are Things in Glocca Morra” and to have “That Great ‘Come-and-Get-It’ Day”.

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KITTY'S KISSES - Studio Cast Recording - 2009 / Music by Con Conrad and Lyrics by Gus Kahn

Starring: Kate Baldwin, Andréa Burns, Danny Burstein, Philip Chaffin, Victoria Clark, Christopher Fitzgerald, Rebecca Luker, Sally Wilfert, Malcolm Gets, Jim Stanek

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: After the delightful recordings of THROUGH THE YEARS and FINE AND DANDY, PS Classics give us another forgotten score.

If, like me, you love the musicals of the 20s, this one is definitely for you. Its carefree atmosphere and melodious score take us back to a time where musicals were simpler, entertaining and you left the theatre humming a song or two.

Until now I confess I never heard anything about this musical and of the composer, Con Conrad, I was familiar with “Makin’ Whoopee“ and ”The Continental” from the Astaire & Rogers movie FLYING DOWN TO RIO. This award winning song (the first ever to won an Oscar) wasn’t part of KITTY’S original score, but its addition was a nice touch from the guys at PS Classics.

As for the score, I simply love the contagious “Wakin’ the Track” and “Choo Choo Love” is highly hummable. “I’m in Love” is a beautiful romantic ballad and “Two Fellows and a Girl” is the kind of song that could only have been written on those days. The cast couldn’t be better and they all sing like if the songs have been written specially for them. It may be an exaggeration, but I think this is best recording of the year for all musical lovers who love the traditional sounds of Broadway.

I read in an interview that, in order for PS Classics to be able to give us more CDs like this, they need to sell 2500 copies of this delicious recording, so what are you waiting for? Christmas is here and KITTY’S KISSES deserves to be discovered by anyone who loves good music; go and by one or two copies. I’m sure there’re more than 2500 musicals fans out there.

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SISTER ACT - Original London Cast Recording - 2009 / Music by Alan Menken and Lyrics by Glenn Slater

Starring: Patina Miller, Sheila Hancock, Katie Rowley Jones, Claire Greenway, Julia Sutton, Ian Lavender, Chris Jarman, Ako Mitchell, Nicolas Colicos, Ivan De Freitas, Thomas Goodridge

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: If you’re in the mood for some spiritual disco pop sounds, you’ll love this. Personally I’m not a fan of pop music, but I always had a thing for the rhythmic sounds of disco and so I’m glad to say that I enjoyed this new cast recording.

Alan Menken came up with a contagious (although some of the songs sound to much alike) score, hard to resist and, specially, very fun to listen to. This may not be serious music or a new modern classic, but it doesn’t pretend to be. What it is, is a very entertaining score, which reaches its better moments with the irresistible nun’s chorus.

Patina Miller shines with her strong voice as Sister Dolores (the Whoopi Goldberg character) and the other sisters are immaculate. For me, the best song is “Bless Our Show”, that with its Christmas feeling is the most traditional tune of the entire score.

I’m sure it works better on stage, but free your spirit and I’m sure you’ll have a good time with this new recording. You can even “Raise Your Voice” with the sisters.

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ROSE MARIE - Studio Cast Recording - 1958 / Music by Rudolf Friml & Herbert P. Stothart and Lyrics by Otto Harbach & Oscar Hammerstein II

Starring: Julie Andrews, Giorgio Tozzi, Francis Day, Meier Tzelniker, Marion Keene, Frederick Harvey, Tudor Evans, John Hauxvell, plus Edith Day, Derek Oldham, Billy Merson, Clarice Hardwicke, John Dunsmure, Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy, Marion Bell, Elizabeth Larner

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: When I was a child, my parents gave me a LP that included the soundtrack of the 1954 movie version of this musical and I always enjoyed listening to the delicious “Indian Love Call”. But my LP player stayed at my parent’s house and it’s been years since the last time I listen to it, so, besides that song, I only remember the title song. So every time I played this CD I felt transported to another era of my life.

Many people may feel that this is too old fashioned for their taste; in fact this sounds more like an operetta than a musical. But with a young and very talented Julie Andrews (she was just 23 years old when she recorded this) in the leading role, this is a must in every musical lover’s library.

As for the classic score, besides the mentioned songs, there’s plenty here to be appreciated. There’re the usual comic numbers like “Hard-Boiled Herman”, you can join the man in the manly “The Mounties”, Andrews enchants with “Lak Jeem” and “Pretty Things”, Marion Keene delivers the very musical “Totem Tom-Tom” and, of course, Andrews and Giorgio Tozzi give us a great “Indian Love Call”.

This CD also includes tracks from the 1925 London cast starring Edith Day and other bonus tracks like the famous “Indian Love Call” duet by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy and a more exciting version of “Totem Tom-Tom” by Elizabeth Allen (already a personal favorite).

Until now, I didn’t knew of the existence of this recording, but It’s a nice surprise and we should be thankful to the guys at Sepia Records for giving us this little gem.

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SHREK THE MUSICAL - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 2009 / Music by Jeanine Tesori and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire

Starring: Brian d'Arcy James, Sutton Foster, Christopher Sieber, Daniel Breaker, John Tartaglia, Cameron Adams, Haven Burton, Jennifer Cody

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Since its opening, SHREK has been trying to succeed on Broadway, but unfortunately it seems the public isn’t buying the idea of seeing this famous Ogre as the hero of a musical comedy. But I believe that if they listen to this entertaining score, they will probably run to the theatre.

I’m not the kind of guy who likes pop music, but composer Jeanine Tesori give us an interesting score, that mixes several types of music, including a couple of more traditional Broadway tunes like “What’s Up, Duloc?”. It’s true that I don’t care much for songs like “Donkey Pot Pie”, “Who I’d Be” or “Build a Wall”, although Brian d’Arcy James strongly delivers these two last songs, but I can’t resist to “Story of My Life” or “Travel Song”.

The great Sutton Foster delivers, with the help of two young girls, the comic “I Know It’s Today” and has her big moment with the contagious “Morning Person”, that I’m sorry to say was trunked for the CD. Daniel Breaker is an amusing Donkey and Christopher Sieber is hilarious with “What’s Up, Duloc?”, my favorite track, and “The Ballad of Farquaad”. The rest of the cast gives true life to the colorful characters and the end result is a recording that’s far from monotonous and quiet enjoyable, with fine orchestrations by Danny Troob.

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CRY FOR US ALL - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 1970 / Music by Mitch Leigh and Lyrics by William Alfred & Phyllis Robison

Starring: Joan Diener, Robert Weed, Helen Gallagher, Tommy Rall and Steve Arlen

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The musical MAN OF LA MANCHA put the name of Mitch Leigh in the history of the Musical and its “The Impossible Dream” is one of the greatest songs ever written for a musical. I imagine the pressure and expectation to strike gold with another show must have been intense, but the result wasn’t that good.

CRY FOR US ALL opened on Broadway in 1970, lasted nine performances (plus eighteen previews) and it was recorded for posterity. That original Broadway cast is finally available on CD. But don’t get very excited, like I did, because this is far from the LA MANCHA score.

Things start with the LA MANCHA style “The End of My Race”, then gets operatic with “How Are You, Since?”, sung by Joan Diener (the Aldonza/Dulcinea of LA MANCHA), and even more operatic with Robert (THE MOST HAPPY FELLA) Weed’s “The Mayor’s Chair”. This isn’t bad, but its too dramatic and serious; almost all songs sound heavy and there’s no much space for fun. Of course things get livelier with Helen Gallagher terrific rendition of “Swing Your Bag”, that sounds kind of out of place in the score; Steve Arlen also has some fun with the big number “This Cornucopian Land”. As for Diener, she has her way with the pretty “That Slavery is Love” and the melodious “Verandah Waltz”.

Anyway, this is one of those flops that I believe many musical fans were dying to have and I confess I feel proud for having it on my CD library. In case you don’t know, this is a limited edition of 1000 copies, so hurry up to get one.

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ILLYA DARLING - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 1967 / Music by Joe Darion and Lyrics by Manos Hadjidakis

Starring: Melina Mercouri, Orson Bean, Hal Linde, Titos Vandis, Joe E. Marks, Rudy Bond, Despo, Harold Gray, Nikos Kourkoulos

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: In 1960 the Jules Dassin movie NEVER ON SUNDAY was a surprise hit, won an Oscar for best original song (the title song) and its leading lady, Melina Mercouri, was nominated for best actress. I never saw the movie, so I don’t know if turning it into a musical was a good idea, but someone thought so and in 1967 it opened on Broadway under the title ILLYA DARLING (Mercouri’s character).

The show reunited the leading lady with the movie director (who were married at the time) and with the movie composer, the Greek Manos Hadjidakis. Although it was nominated for several Tonys, including best Musical, Actress and Composer & Lyricist, it wasn’t a big hit.

By listening to the original Broadway cast recording, one thing is clear, after a while the Greek inspired rhythms become a little bit monotonous. As for Melina Mercouri, she sounds like a poor Marlene Dietrich (or Jeanne Moreau in the movie QUERELLE) with a Greek accent and she’s better with “Piraeus, My Love” than with “Love, Love, Love”. Of her male co-stars, only Titos Vandis convinces me with the title song, that has a lively orchestration by the great Ralph Burns. As for the famous “Never on Sunday”, well, let’s just say that I’m not a big fan of the song.

In 1968, a new Greek themed musical opened on Broadway, ZORBA. The score was by John Kander and Fred Ebb and it’s far superior to this one. But this is a must for show music collectors, who didn’t waste any time and hurriedly sold-out the limited 1000 copies of this CD.

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PETER PAN - Original Cast Recording - 2009 / Music by George Stiles and Lyrics by Anthony Drewe

Starring: James Gillan, David Birrell, Amy Lennox, James Byng, Jed Barry, Martin Callaghan, Kirsty Hoiles, Thomas Aldridge, Dominic Ridley, Simon Schofield, Craig Dinnewell, Gregg Lowe, Tim Edwards, Michelle Cornelius, Alwyne Taylor

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The classic tale by J. M. Barrie has been the subject of several stage musicals, the best and more famous being the one by Mark Charlap & Carolyn Leigh (with additional songs by Jule Styne and Betty Comden & Adolph Green). Now, from England, comes another version.

The new score is by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The first one was the responsible for the breathtaking music of THE THREE MUSKETEERS (one of those scores that deserves to be discovered by musical fans) and both wrote the new songs of the MARY POPPINS stage show.

Unfortunately there’s no excitement here. The songs sound too much alike, making this a boring piece of music. There’s much talk of magic in the songs, but none come through in the songs. The songs aren’t bad, but the orchestrations aren’t very exciting, too Celtic for me, and there are too many tender ballads. In the cast, James Gillan as Peter Pan sings with a very sweet voice and David Birrell sounds perfect as Captain Hook.

I miss the excitement of flying, the emotion of the more dramatic sequences and the fun of the comic ones. I hoped that songs like “There’s Always Tomorrow” or “Just Beyond the Stars” would get me emotional, but they didn’t. For me the best track is the pretty “Build a House”.

In truth this isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m sure some people may find it interesting.

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ROAD SHOW - Original Off- Broadway Cast Recording - 2009 / Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Starring: Michael Cerveris, Alexander Gemignani, Alma Cuervo, William Parry, Claybourne Elder, Aisha de Haas, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Mylinda Hull, Mel Johnson, Jr., Orville Mendoza, Anne L. Nathan, Tom Nelis, Matt Stocke, William Youmans, Kristine Zbornik

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Stephen Sondheim has been trying to fix his musical about the Mizner Brothers for years. First it was called WISE GUYS, then GOLD, later opened as BOUNCE and finally (at least, until now) arrived Off-Broadway as ROAD SHOW. I didn’t have the chance to hear the first two incarnations of the score, but I have the cast recording of BOUNCE and now I have this one. One thing is clear, this isn’t prime Sondheim and I think it’s time for him to move on.

It’s impossible not to compare this new recording with the one of BOUNCE, and ROAD SHOW looses. The score continues interesting, but monotonous. The orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick are great; the new cast lead by Michael Cerveris and Alexander Gemignani sounds like the real thing and there’s plenty to enjoy here, but Sondheim can do much better.

As for the songs, the best ones continue to be “Bounce”, now renamed “Waste”, and the beautiful ballad “The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened”, this time around sung by the gay brother and his lover (Claybourne Elder, who also delivers a strong “Talent”). I prefer the big numbers, like “Boca Raton” or “The Game”, of the previous recording. The new song “It’s in Your Hands” sounds like it was written for ASSASSINS and in fact the music was originally written for that musical, but it gives William Parry a good chance to shine.

If you have to choose between BOUNCE and ROAD SHOW, I recommend the first one.

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JIMMY - Original Broadway Cast Recording - 1970 / Music and Lyrics by Bill & Patti Jacob

Starring: Frank Gorshin, Anita Gillette, Julie Wilson, Jack Collins, William Griffis, Evan Thompson, Dorothy Claire, Stanley Simmonds, Edward Becker, Henry Lawrence, Clifford Fearl, Carol Conte

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: The show opened on Broadway in 1970 and closed after 84 performances, but fortunately on those days almost everything got recorded and so some lesser shows got a life after closing its doors. Like many musicals of the late 60s early 70s, JIMMY didn’t have a terrific score, but at least it had an entertaining one, like you can check by listening to this cast recording.

The action takes places in the 20s, but with a few exceptions the songs sound more like 60s Broadway than 20s Broadway. As Jimmy, Frank Gorshin doesn’t have a great singing voice and is better with lighter songs like “Riverside Drive” than with dramatic ones like “What’s Out There for Me?”. As for the ladies, Julie Wilson has fun with “The Charmin’ Son-of-a-Bitch” and has her way with “I Only Wanna Laugh”. The always reliable Anita Gillette duets with Gorshin in the beautiful ballad “One in a Million” and gives us my favorite track, the contagious “Oh, Gee!”; I also enjoyed “The Walker Walk”.

This was a nice addition to my CD library, with plenty to enjoy and make me wish that more unpretentious scores like this one were written today.

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ALLEGRO - Studio Cast Recording - 2009 / Music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Nathan Gunn, Audra McDonald, Marni Nixon, Judy Kuhn, Liz Callaway, Laura Benanti, Norbert Leo Butz, Judy Blazer, Danny Burstein, Maureen Brennan, Ashley Brown, Kathy Morath

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: Not all Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musicals turn into gold. Written in 1947, after CAROUSEL and before SOUTH PACIFIC, ALLEGRO didn’t match the success of those two shows and its score isn’t among their classics.

A cast recording was made of the original Broadway cast; with only 10 tracks it was a very truncated version of the score. Now, more than 60 years after its opening, a complete recording of that score is finally available.

With an all-star cast, this is better than the previous recording, but I regret to inform that the Rodgers & Hammerstein magic touch isn’t in full motion here. The most famous song of the show is the “The Gentleman is a Dope”, here sung with gusto by Liz Callaway, but there are other songs worthy of note like “You Are Never Away”, that gives Patrick Wilson his big moment, the beautiful “So Far” by Judy Kuhn, the ladies have a good time with “Money Isn’t Everything” and Norbert Leo Butz nicely delivers the unfortunately short “It May Be a Good Idea” and leads the company in the rousing title song.

The orchestrations are very rich and there’s plenty of instrumental tracks, plus several dialogue sequences. The cast is flawless and it’s a pity that people like Audra McDonald or Laura Benanti don’t shine more, on the other hand was a nice touch to have Marni Nixon singing “I Know It Can Happen Again”. Curiously one of the more entertaining instrumental tracks uses the song “Mountain Greenery”, written by Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1926 for the musical THE GIRL FRIEND.

Let’s hope the future will bring us more studio cast recordings like this one.

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KRAZY LOVE - 2009

Starring: Luba Mason, special guest star: Ruben Blades

Rated by Jorge:

REVIEW: You’ve all the right to ask me why am I reviewing this album in a site about musical theatre. The answer could easily be because Luba Mason is a singer/actress who had starred in more than a couple of musicals; but the truth is because, for my surprise, I found this album quite enjoyable.

I confess that if I hadn’t received an email regarding this album, asking me to cover it on my site, I would never buy it. The reason is simple, I’m not a fan of Brazilian music, my musical tastes are rather narrow (I’m one of those guys who only likes traditional musical scores) and, although she sings in the revival cast of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS…, Luba Mason’s name didn’t ring a bell.

For all those reasons, this KRAZY LOVE was a nice revelation. It’s a melodious album that takes us to a Brazilian world of rhythms and sounds, where it’s easy to let go. Luba, who sounds so delicious funny as Hedy la Rue in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS…, here reveals a warm lush voice that blends perfectly with this kind of music. Her renditions of “Krazy Love”, “A Summer Night” and “Gorgeous Fool” are the highlights; all these songs were written by her, in fact only two of the album songs aren’t originals: “Olhos nos Olhos”, where she sings with a perfect Portuguese accent and “É Com Esse Que Eu Vou”, a fine duet between Luba and her husband Ruben Blades.With its rich orchestrations, bossa nova rhythms and relaxation mood, it “smells” of those longing summer afternoons by the sea. A nice surprise that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

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