CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Hello Again – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Hello AgainWhen RCA released the cast album of Lincoln Center’s production of Hello Again in 1994, they introduced a bold new voice of the American musical theatre to the world: Michael John LaChiusa. While savvy New Yorkers had already encountered his complex, challenging work in First Lady Suite, that score had gone unrecorded at the time. I remember not quite knowing what to make of the score; I was a teenager who had little to no experience with the subject matter, but I could tell this was the first composer to make a case that the post-Sondheim generation could keep pushing the form in the ways he had without becoming pale imitations of the master. Continue reading

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CASTALBUMS.ORG: Pat Suzuki – Complete Album Series & Singles and Rarities 1958–1967

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Pat Suzuki Complete Album SeriesHad Pat Suzuki only ever appeared in Flower Drum Song, her knock-out performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein’sI Enjoy Being A Girl” would have secured her place in musical theater history. How lucky we are, though, that she also had a lengthy, if somewhat forgotten, career as a recording artist. And how lucky we are that Stage Door Records is releasing two collections of her studio work: Complete Album Series (out next week) and Singles and Rarities 1958-1967, out now.

The earliest of these recordings predate Suzuki’s Broadway debut in Flower Drum Song. At the time, Suzuki was doing a club act containing (as Bing Crosby attests in the album notes) “anything from jazz to light opera.” The album The Many Sides of Pat Suzuki reflects her range, including Ellington (“Solitude“), showtunes from days gone by (“Fine and Dandy“), jazzy standards (“From This Moment On“), and fairly contemporary material (“Lazy Afternoon“). The closest she gets to light opera is “Poor Butterfly,” but that’s not a complaint. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert – Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event

Originally Published on CastAlbums.org.

Jesus Christ Superstar TV SoundtrackFew scores have been recorded as many times in as many different interpretations as Jesus Christ Superstar. Perhaps owing to its origins first as a concept album, then as a concert tour, and then as a world-wide stage musical phenomenon (with each country’s production independently envisioned by its own production team) and film (created simultaneously with and distinct from the stage version), this score has never had a standard mold into which subsequent renditions must fit. Further, the recent NBC “television event” is at least the fifth English-language video production of the material, so there was no pressure to preserve a “definitive” rendition. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Donnybrook! reissue featuring The Pete King Orchestra Plays the Music of Donnybrook!

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Donnybrook!Donnybrook! Is one of the rare golden age cast albums that’s never received a proper digital transfer, despite the near-mania for releasing so many relatively obscure titles that characterized the cast recordings industry in the ‘90s and 2000s. Did Decca Broadway (who now owns the Kapp catalogue to which Donnybrook! belongs) lack appropriate masters, or did they simply deem the material less worthy? Whether as cause or effect, this musical adaptation of The Quiet Man has never achieved even the cult status of shows with similar pedigree from the same era. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: The Man in the Moon – Original Cast

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Man in the MoonAs they were making final tweaks to She Loves Me prior to its initial Broadway bow in 1963, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick had another show on the main stem just a couple block away. The songwriting team, who already had a Best Musical Tony and a Pulitzer Prize to their name, lent their talents to a Broadway puppet show created by Bill and Cora Baird, perhaps the best-known puppeteers of the pre-Henson age. (Even if you don’t recognize their names, their work will surely look familiar even today, if only from the “Lonely Goatherd” number in the film version of The Sound of Music.) Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: …and then I wrote THE MUSIC MAN

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

...and then I wrote THE MUSIC MANEngland’s Stage Door records continues its delightful Collector’s Series with the first CD release of “…and then I wrote THE MUSIC MAN,” the 1959 Capitol album featuring composer Meredith Willson and his wife Rini singing the hit score while Mr. Willson provides piano accompaniment and running narration. If you ever wanted to be a fly in the wall at a golden age backers’ audition, find yourself a small, crowded New York apartment and play this disc; you’ll find it’s a perfect simulation. Continue reading

Equity News: Theatre for Good: After Orlando

Originally published in Equity News.

When tragedy strikes, everyone responds individually. For Equity member Blair Baker and Zac Kline, co-Artistic Directors of Missing Bolts Productions, their response to the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., last June was to make art. “You have this urge to do something as an artist,” Baker told Equity News in December, “but you can feel, ‘What can I do as an actor?’”

Realizing her emotional state in the wake of the Orlando shooting mirrored that of the character she had played in Caridad Svich’s The Hour of All Things, Baker suggested reaching out to Svich to get to work on some kind of artistic response. Kline had previously collaborated with Svich in creating 24 Gun Control Plays in 2013. “It started from a place of deep urgency to want to do the project,” Kline explained, “but also from Blair’s incredible passion balanced with my efficiency.” Continue reading