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

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The Sondheim Review: A lotta Sondheim songs

Cabaret offerings prove the strength of the material

 

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KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar perform Another Hundred People at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Photo by Russ Weatherford.

Originally published in The Sondheim Review.

 

On any given night in New York City there is likely to be at least one cabaret offering some kind of Sondheim program. That leaves intrepid fans to wonder if artists can still show something new at such a performance. Recently, KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar and Broadway leading lady Alice Ripley took up the challenge.

Harnar and Sullivan’s Another Hundred People at the Laurie Beechman Theatre is billed as “Act Two” of their Sondheim program Our Time, from 2014, but it’s fully satisfying on its own, and in many ways superior to its predecessor. Based on the idea that Sondheim’s lyrics can do the heavy lifting, the performers eschew banter for a song-stuffed program of 18 numbers — 40 songs in all, from Sondheim projects.

Their program is most exciting when numbers take on fresh ideas through new contexts and dialogue with other songs, ably shaped by musical director Jon Weber and director Sondra Lee. Harner’s smarmy take on “I Know Things Now” from Into the Woods in medley with “More” from Dick Tracy turned the song about a young woman reaching maturity into a celebration of a gay man’s discovery of sexual abundance. The duo’s medley of songs about partnership (including the opening number from Wise Guys, the title song from Bounce, plus “It Takes Two” and “Side by Side by Side”) became a mini-musical in itself.  Continue reading

Fynsworth Alley: Musiography – Jason Graae

Musiography - Jason GraaeWe receive dozens of customer e-mails each week asking about the origins of songs on our albums, so we thought it would be fun to occasionally devote a column to analyzing the selections on our albums. This week, we’re kicking off the series with Jason Graae’s Evening of Self-Indulgence

But Alive / I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You
Since most everyone knows each of these songs (the former from Strouse and Adams’ Applause, the latter from Lloyd Webber and Rice’s Evita), we decided to ask Jason how he decided to combine the two into an unlikely medley. “Well, I already knew the words to ‘But Alive’, but it was too short, so I figured I ought to add something else,” says Graae, “But actually, it was [director] Heather Lee’s idea to put in ‘I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You’. That was her only contribution to my act.” Continue reading

Fynsworth Alley: Interview with Susan Egan

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

Susan Egan

When you look up the word “multitalented” in the dictionary, you might just find Susan Egan’s picture. Sure, she sings, she dances, she acts, but in addition to her work on Broadway (which includes her Tony-nominated debut as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, the starring role of Princess Leonid in Triumph of Love, and a year-long stint as Sally Bowles in Cabaret), Susan has appeared in film, television, books-on-tape, cabaret, and symphony concerts, and she’s even been known to take on the role of producer every now and then. You can currently catch Susan every Sunday night at 9:00 on the WB on Nikki, and you can find her in cyberspace at http://www.SusanEgan.net.
DL:You’ve made the leap from musical theatre into just about every medium possible, including film, TV, books on tape, concerts… Is musical theatre still your favorite?

SE: No. I don’t really have a favorite. I knew musical theatre would be my foot in the door in the industry, because it was something that came really naturally to me. But it’s a bit of a smaller world, and I have a unique take on it, and I knew a lot of people aren’t going to hire me because I make ingénues very funny and a little off-center. I’m not your typical ingénue, I’m generally quirky. But I knew the people that liked that would get it and hire me. I still think I got Belle because I made them laugh, and I don’t think they knew Belle could be funny. I mean, I just think I had a different take on it that didn’t betray what people think of as Belle, it just added another dimension to her. And I think it’s because the ingénue roles never really interested me when I was growing up listening to musical theatre. You know, I would fast forward through those songs; I couldn’t wait to get to Miss Adelaide! Sarah Brown was boring, but then I grew up looking like Sarah Brown. To make it interesting for me, I really make them off-the-wall, and I started working a lot with that, from the moment I was sixteen. I figured out for myself that’s what I can do that’s different and unique. Not a lot of people do that, and that’s what gave me the clue. I knew I would go to New York, I knew I would work in New York, and that would be my foot in the door in the industry. And then from there I could do other things, and that’s precisely what happened.
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