Wednesday, September 6, 2017

HOLIDAY INN: A CD Review

Original Broadway Cast – 2016 / Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Starring: Bryce Pinkham, Lora Lee Gayer, Corbin Bleu, Megan Lawrence, Megan Sikora,
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Joan Marcus

Review: If, like me, you love Broadway’s golden age, a “new” musical by Irving Berlin is always a reason to get excited. Based on the Fred Astaire & Bing Crosby 1942 movie that introduced the song “White Christmas” to the world, this score plays like a Berlin songbook and there’s nothing wrong with it.

Larry Blank is the responsible for the new and exciting orchestrations and Bryce Pinkham, Lora Lee Gayer (my favorite), Corbin Bleu, Megan Lawrence and Megan Sikora sung the songs like if they were written for them. Of course we all heard these songs before, but even so is always a pleasure to rediscover less known (at least for me) songs like “Marching Along with Time”, “Plenty to Be Thankful For”, “Nothing More to Say”, “Let’s Start the New Year Right”, “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”, “Song of Freedom” and “Let’s Say with Firecrackers”.

There’s also more than a couple of big Berlin hits like “Steppin' Out with My Baby”, “Blue Skies”, “Heat Wave”, “It’s a Lovely Day Today” (a song that I simply love), “Shaking the Blues Away” (the big production number), “You’re Easy to Dance With”, “Easter Parade” and, it couldn’t fail, “White Christmas”.

A reminder of simple days, when the musicals only pretend to entertain and people get out of the theatre humming the songs, with a smile in their heart and rhythm on their feet. In fact, no one seems to write songs like this anymore (exception for the guys who wrote YANK!). You know what? I believe “it’s a lovely day today” to listen to this nostalgic cast recording!


ANASTASIA: A CD Review

Original Broadway Cast – 2017 / Music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Starring: Christy Altomare, John Bolton, Ramin Karimloo, Derek Klena, Caroline O'Connor, Mary Beth Peil, Lauren Blackman, Kyle Brown
Rate: 8 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Matthew Murphy

Review: With the huge success of the Broadway adaptations of Disney’s animation musicals, it’s not a surprise that Fox’s 1997 musical ANASTASIA, with songs by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (RAGTIME), would arrive sooner or later to the stage. Specially because it appeals to the young girls’ audience that made WICKED a hit, plus it has touristic appeal. In fact, I don’t know why it took so long to get to a Broadway stage.

The movie score had a hit with “Journey to the Past” (a song in Alan Menken’s style), plus a few more songs, my favorite being “Paris Hold the Key (To Your Heart)”. Gone is the villain’s song “In the Dark of the Night”, plus the pop tune “At the Beginning”. In their place, there’s a dozen of new songs lively orchestrated by Doug Besterman.

In the title role, Christy Altomare reveals a sweet powerful voice, giving us strong renditions of “Journey to the Past” and the beautiful “Crossing a Bridge”. As the villain, Ramin Karimloo, who has a terrific voice, has is big moment with “Still”, but he deserved more interesting songs. Derek Klena, in the role of Dmitry, is a nice surprise shining with “My Petersburg”, “Everything to Win” and “In a Crowd of Thousands”, a romantic duet with Altomare. But my heart is with Caroline O’Connor’s Lily, who deliver my favorite songs of the score, “Land of Yesterday” and “The Countess and the Common Man”, here in an amusing duet with a great John Bolton. Bolton also sings, with the rest of the cast, another song that I love “We’ll Go from There” and leads the company with the already mentioned “Paris Hold the Key (To Your Heart)”.

This is an entertaining and melodious score, better than the movie soundtrack. Personally, I think it’s one of the best cast recordings of the year, but you know me, more heart than brains. Anyway, I think it really deserves to be part of any musical lover music library.


Monday, September 4, 2017

BROADWAY SEASON 2016-2017 – THE MUSICALS

On my blog BROADWAY: THE MUSICAL SEASONS I’ve just posted a page with images from all the musicals, new ones and revivals, which opened on Broadway during the 2016-2017 Season; plus the City Center Encores! series. Some became hits, others closed in a few weeks, but I believe all of them are worthy of celebration.

To visit the page click here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

SHOW MUSIC RELEASES: AUGUST/SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017


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, September and October 2017. The list is in alphabetical order.

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN – DVD and Blu-ray release of the 1957 live telecast of Irving Berlin’s musical, starring Mary Martin, John Raitt, Reta Shaw, William O’Neal, Donald Burr and Luke Halpin. Available for pre-order at VAI Music

THE BATTLE OF THE BOAT – A new musical by Ethan Donnelly and Jenna Maltby. Set during World War I, it was first performed by the National Youth Music Theatre.


BARNUM – 1980 backer’s audition recording as presented by the authors. Music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Michael Stewart. Recorded live on New York's Upper East Side in the apartment of Maurice and Lois Rosenfield. 

THE BOOK OF MERMAN – Original Chicago Cast recording of the musical by Lee Schwartz. Featuring Sam Button-Harrison, Dan Gold and Libby Lane. Available at CDBaby.

ISLAND SONG – Studio Cast recording starring Jackie Burns, Lilli Cooper, Kimiko Glenn, Troy Iwata, Jeremy Jordan and Natalie Weiss. Music and lyrics by Sam Carner & Derek Gregor. Available at IslandSong.



RETOUR A L’AUBERGE GANNE – Cast recording of the French operetta by Frank Thomas and Bernard Sauvet. Featuring Bernard Sauvat, Valérie Bonnier and Frank Thomas. 

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS – Original Cast recording with original songs written by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T s, They Might Be Giants, T. I., and songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny & Andy Paley, with additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton and additional music by Tom Kitt.


THE VIEW UPSTAIRS - Original Off-Broadway Cast recording of Max Vernon’s new musical. Featuring Jeremy Pope, Taylor Frey, Nathan Lee Graham, Frenchie Davis, Benjamin Howes, Michael Longoria, Ben Mayne, Nancy Ticotin, Randy Redd, Richard E. Waits, Anthony Alfaro, and April Ortiz.

ZIPPERZ – World Premiere recording of the score by Nathaniel Stookey and Dan Harder. Featuring Manoel Felciano and Robin Coomer.