REVIEW: Woman of the Year – Original Broadway Cast

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woman of the yearThere are certain shows by the giants of musical theater that have lesser reputations. While often these reputations are earned (e.g. late-period Andrew Lloyd Webber), too often scores are unfairly maligned simply because they pale in comparison to the real masterpieces in their writers’ catalog. Women of the Year is unquestionably in the latter category. Kander & Ebb’s 1981 star vehicle for Lauren Bacall is no Cabaret, but believe me, it’s no Stephen Ward either.

Based on the 1942 Tracy/Hepburn film, the musical updates the story to the 1980s, with Bacall as TV star Tess Harding in a rocky relationship with cartoonist Sam Craig, played by Harry Guardino. The score produced two genuine classic songs: the tender ballad “Sometimes a Day Goes By” and the hilarious duet for Bacall and Marilyn Cooper, “The Grass Is Always Greener.” The show nabbed four Tony Awards, for book (Peter Stone), score, Bacall, and Cooper.  Continue reading

Advertisements REVIEW: Doctor Zhivago – Original Broadway Cast Recording

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Doctor ZhivagoI don’t think any of us expected to hear a cast recording from Doctor Zhivago, a show that had more above-the-title producers than performances on Broadway. But we are living in an improbably generous new golden age of cast recordings, where all but one musical from last season (Holler If Ya Hear Me) were preserved this way, and to my ears, it’s the shortest-lived shows that have benefitted the most.  Continue reading REVIEW: Pageant – 2014 Off-Broadway Cast

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pageantWhen Side Show hit Broadway in 1998, I became fascinated with the career of lyricist Bill Russell. I had never heard of him before, but I discovered he somehow went from penning tiny, queer off-Broadway musicals like Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens (music by Janet Hood) and Pageant (music by Albert Evans, lyrics written with Frank Kelly) to working with the composer of Dreamgirls. I wanted to know more, but at the time Elegies was only available as an import and Pageant had never been legally recorded. (An unauthorized album had been made in Australia, but I’ve never seen or heard it.)

Since then, Elegies was made available in the U.S. (and a second, American recording was produced in 2001), and although Pageant popped up at regional theaters all the time, a recording remained elusive. That has finally changed, thanks to an off-Broadway revival and John Yap of Jay Records. Continue reading