Sunday, August 28, 2016

FUNNY GIRL: A CD Review

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

I’M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD: A CD Review

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

SHOW MUSIC RELEASES: AUGUST 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 2016. The list is in alphabetical order.


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. Release date: July 2016

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.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

SID AND MARTY KROFFT’S LES POUPÉES DE PARIS: A CD Review

World’s Fair Original Cast Recording – 1964 / Music by James Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Starring: Annie Fargé, Janine Forman, Cyd Charisse, Bing Crosby, Crista Speck, Gene Kelly, Pearl Bailey, Joey Forman, Guy Marks, Loretta Young, Paul Frees, Milton Berle, Jane Kean, Liberace, Jayne Mansfield, Lance Legault, Edie Adams, Merry Wiiliams, Phil Silvers, Pop Com, Cotton Candy and the Balloons
Rate: 6 (from 1 to 10)

Review: I never heard of this show before, but when I saw the names attached to it I became very curious about it.

To begin with, this puppet musical revue is musically kind of strange. The numbers go from really good (“Love is a Bore”) to the weird (“A Night of Horror”), but the end result is quite entertaining. 

There’s Gene Kelly charming “Don’t Say Paris, Say Paree”. Pearl Bailey is great with “You Can’t Make It Anywhere” and “Love is a Bore”; two songs that deserve to have a life beyond this show and are reason enough to buy this recording. “It’s a Living” is a funny song and the melodious “The Ice Skater (On the Wings of Romance”) would easily fit on a soundtrack of a musical or comedy of the 50s.

Like I said before, “A Night of Horror” is kind of strange and the numbers “The Opera Singer” and “The Circus” aren’t my cup of tea. For me, the worst is the rock sound “Sadie Fats”, that seems to belong to some other score.


But, in the whole, I think lovers of the musical will enjoy this score and there’s more than a couple of good songs in it.