Sunday, September 18, 2016


Wolrd Premiere Cast – 2016 / Music by Greg Borowsky & Douglas Lyons and lyrics by Douglas Lyons
Starring: Alex Newell, Shanice Williams, John Arthur Greene, Lilli Cooper, Katie Thompson, Alysha Deslorieux Talia Thiesfield, Gerard Canonico, Brittney Johnson, Julie Knitel, Sara King
Rate: 5 (from 1 to 10)

Review: This new musical is inspired by “the true events the Civil Rights pioneers Ruby Bridges and The Little Rock Nine”. According to the press release notes, it “follows 8-year-old Lily Polkadot who just moved to the “Squares Only” small town of Rockaway. As the first Polkadot in an all Square school, Lily faces an almost impossible task of gaining acceptance from her peers. From daily bullying, to segregated drinking fountains, Lily’s quest seems hopeless until she meets Sky, a shy Square boy whose curiosity for her unique polkadot skin blooms into an unexpected pal-ship. Polkadots serves as a colorful history lesson for children, reminding them that our differences make us awesome, not outcasts.”

As for the music, it reminds me of GLEE. The songs have the sound I associate with that television series and fans of it will surely love this new musical. As for me, I’m not a big fan of pop tunes, so I confess this one isn’t really for me.

One of the best songs, “Sticks and Stones”, could easily been part of a Motown recording and it’s sung with gusto by Alex Newell, who was part of the GLEE cast. Shanice Williams, the Dorothy of the recent television production of THE WIZ, beautifully delivers “One Pal”, a kind of Alan Menken emotional song. “Beautiful” is well sung by John Arthur Green of AMERICAN IDOL season 15, Lili Cooper has a good time with “Cool Kid” and so does Katie Thompson & Alysha Deslorieux with “The First”. I don’t like the rap “The Squadot”, but it’s very rare for me to like a rap song. There’s two bonus tracks, the beautiful “Taught” sung by Katie Thompson and a kind of Motown Christmas number, “Polkadot Christmas”, sung by Brittney Johnson.

Although this is hardly my kind of musical score, I prefer the traditional Broadway sound, it doesn’t hurt my ears and as pop musicals go, this one has melody and more than a couple of enjoyable songs.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Original Television Cast – 1966 / Music by Moose Charlap and lyrics by Elise Simmons
Starring: Judi Rolin, Nanette Fabray, Ricardo Montalban, Jack Palance, Roy Castle, The Smother Brothers, Jimmy Durante, Agnes Moorehead, Robert Coote
Rate: 6 (from 1 to 10)

Review: I love when I discover a musical I never heard before and this television production fits in that category. I don’t’ know how it work on television, but by listening to this enjoyable recording I hope that one day I’ll be able to see it.

Composer Moose Charlap (also known as Mark “Moose” Charlap) didn’t write many scores, but one of those was for Mary Martin’s PETER PAN, that is without doubt is most famous work. For this ALICE he was in an inspired mood and the result is the kind of songs I really like.

The best songs are sung by the great and almost forgotten Nanette Fabray, “I Wasn’t Meant to Be a Queen” and “Alice is Coming to Tea” that sounds like a big production number (according to the notes on the booklet it was “probably the wildest number choreographer Tony Charmoli ever staged”). As Alice, Judi Rolin shows a sweet voice with “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are” and with the pretty ballad “Who Are You?”; she has a good time with Jimmy Durante, “’Twas Brillig” and with the Smother Brothers, “The Backwards Alphabet”. I don’t know why, but too me Jack Palance sounds a bit like Alan Cumming on “Jabberwock Song”. Ricardo Montalban give us a charming “Some Summer Day”. The only song that I don’t like is “Keep on the Grass”.

This isn’t as good as PETER PAN and the orchestrations are a little bit dated, but this is very entertaining and it’s always a pleasure to hear Nanette Fabray. I believe this deserves a place on every musical fan’s library and, besides that, it’s quiet enjoyable.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Original London Cast – 2016 / Music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill
Starring: Sheridan Smith, Darius Campbell, Marilyn Cuts, Joel Montague, Gay Soper, Valda Aviks, Philip Bertioli
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) / 
Photos by Marc Brenner

Review: On the night I saw this show, Sheridan Smith was out and the role of Fanny Brice was brilliantly played by Natasha J. Barnes and I sure miss her in this album. Barnes has a strong voice that, although we can’t compare her with Barbra Streisand (no one compares with her), carried the songs with feeling, power, humor and emotion. As for Smith, she has a good singing voice, but her power range isn’t very high and she sounds better in the comic numbers.

As for the recording, this is one of the best scores ever written for a musical. With songs like “People”, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and, a personal favorite of mine, “The Music That Makes Me Dance”, this is Jule Styne at his best! I confess I love all the songs, but you know me, I’m passionate about this kind of music. Besides the songs I already mentioned, I can’t resist tunes like “I’m the Greatest Star”, “His Love Makes Me Beautiful”, “Funny Girl” (written for the movie version), “I Want to Be Seen with You Tonight”, “Who Are You Now?” and all the rest.

There are two new songs that I never heard before and I don’t even know if they were part of the original Broadway production. One is “Temporary Arrangement” sung by Darius Campbell as Nick Arnstein, that fits perfectly into the score and the same can be said about the too short “What Do Happy People Do?”.

Back to the cast, Darius Campbell has a sweet manly voice that makes his Nick perfect. In supporting roles, Marilyn Cuts as Fanny’s mother and Joel Montague as Eddie give it all with the funny “Who Taught Her Everything She Knows?”.

Of course this new recording doesn’t have the power of the original Broadway cast or the movie soundtrack, but it’s impossible to duplicate Streisand. This is also a small scale production and the orchestrations by Chris Walker aren’t as strong as the original ones by Ralph Burns, but they have a true feeling of the period and I enjoyed longer versions of some of the songs, like “Henry Street”.

This won’t replace the original with Streisand, but it’s more than enjoyable and it has the kind of “music that makes me dance” and dream!

To read my review on the London revival click here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Original Cast Recording – 1978 / Music by Nancy Ford and Lyrics by Gretchen Cyrer
Starring: Gretchen Cryer, Margot Rose, Betty Aberlin, Don Scardino
Rate: 3 (from 1 to 10)

Review: This show opened Off-Broadway in 1978 and, although, it had a difficult start, it became a hit. I don’t know why, but I always thought this was a hard rock score, but it isn’t. In fact, this is a very quiet pop score, that it’s very dated in its 70s pop style songs and orchestrations.

One of its creators, Gretchen Cryer plays the lead role and sings her songs with feeling and conviction, with nice vocal support by Margot Rose and Betty Aberlin. The problem is I have a difficult time connecting with this kind of songs. I love traditional Broadway musicals and this isn’t that kind of score. I’m not the right person to say if these songs are good or bad, they sound a little depressing to me.

I know there’s an audience for this kind of musicals and the songs don’t hurt my ears. For me the best one is “Smile”, “Strong Woman Number” is interesting and “Dear Tom” has a nice melody. I’m curious how it will sound with less dated orchestrations. But I guess this is a true son of the 70s.

Monday, August 8, 2016


Here you find a list, as complete as possible, of all the CDs, digital albums, DVDs and Blu-ray regarding stage and movie musicals that that are being released in August and September 2016. The list is in alphabetical order.

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – Soundtrack of the1966 NBC television special with songs by Elsie Simmons and Moose Charlap. Starring Ricardo Montalban, Agnes Moorehead, Jack Palance, Jimmy Durante, Robert Coote, Nanette Fabray, Judi Rolin, Roy Castle and the Smothers Brothers. 

To read my review click here.

DISASTER! – Original Broadway Cast recording starring Roger Bart, Kerry Butler, Rachel York, Adam Pascal, Seth Rudetsky, Faith Prince, Kevin Chamberlin, Jennifer Simard and Max Crumm. With songs by various 1970s pop groups.

FUNNY GIRL – London Revival cast starring Sheridan Smith, Darius Campbell, Joel Montague, Marilyn Cutts, Valda Aviks, Gay Soper and Philip Bertioli. Music by Jule Styne and Lyrics by Bob Merrill. 

To read my review click here.

I’M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD – Reissue of the 1978 Original Off-Broadway Cast recording. Music by Nancy Ford and lyrics by Gretchen Cryer, featuring Gretchen Cryer, Margot Rose, Betty Aberlin and Don Scardino.

To read my review click here.

L.A. NOW AND THEN – Original Cast recording of a new musical revue conceived and directed by Bruce Kimmel. With songs by Michele Brourman, Grant Geissman, Paul Gordon, Karen Gottlieb, Bruce Kimmel, Shelly Markham, Wayne Moore, Adyran Russ, Richard M. Sherman, The Sherman Brothers. To be available at Kritzerland.

PARAMOUR – Original Broadway Cast recording if the Cirque du Soleil musical, featuring Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis, Ryan Vona, Bret Shuford, Sarah Meahl, Kat Cunning, Tom Ammirati, Andrew Atherton, Kevin Atherton, Chelsey Arce, Lee Brearley, Yanelis Brooks, Samuel William Charlton, Martin Charrat, Nate Cooper, Myriam Deraiche, Kyle Driggs, Jeremias Faganel, Amber Brooke Fulljames, Steven Trumon Gray, Tomasz Jadach, Rafal Kaszubowski, Justin Keats, Reed Kelly, Denis Kibenko, Joe McAdam, Raven McRae, Amber J. Merrick, Sheridan Mouawad, Amber Pickens, Justin Prescott, Fletcher Blair Sanchez, Matthieu Sennacherib, Blakely Slaybaugh, Sam Softich, Amiel Soicher, Amber van Wijk, Bruce Weber, Tomasz Wilkosz and Zhengqi Xia (Da Qi) Songs by Bob & Bill and Andreas Carlsson.  

POLKADOTS: THE COOL KIDS MUSICAL – World Premiere Cast recording of the musical inspired by the 1957 events of the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas. Music by Douglas Lyons and Greg Borowsky, lyrics by Douglas Lyons. Premiered at Carnegie Mellon University in March 2016.

RED EYE OF LOVE – Studio Cast recording of a new musical revue that opened in New York in 2014. Starring Kelli O’Hara, Josh Grisetti and Brad Oscar. Music by Sam Davis and lyrics by Arnold Weinstein & John Wulp.

THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM – Original Off-Broadway Cast recording, starring Steven Pasquale, Andrew Durand, Evan Harrington, Greg Hildreth, Leslie Kritzer, Ahna O’Reilly, Nadia Quinn, Lance Roberts and Devere Rogers. Music by Robert Waldman and lyrics by Alfred Uhry.

SALLY - Light Opera of New York cast recording of the 1920 musical with music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Clifford Grey. Featuring Emma Grimsley, Alex Corson, Bryan Elsesser, Adam Cannedy, Claire Kuttler, Richard Holmes, Natalie Ballenger and Rachel Braunstein.

STATE FAIR – For the first time on VD the Original Movie Soundtrack of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein’s musical. Starring Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, Ann-Margret, Tom Ewell, Pamela Tiffin and Alice Faye.