Cast Albums Blog

Review: Hairspray Live!

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Can it really be that almost 15 years have passed since the bubbly and boisterous musical Hairspray first took Broadway by storm? The show lived on the Great White Way for 8 ½ years, winning the Tony for Best Musical, had numerous regional productions, and was even made into a well-received movie. In many ways, Hairspray, despite its age, has never really left the modern Broadway canon. With tomorrow night's production of Hairspray Live! on NBC, we'll have one more version to add to the mix.

REVIEW: The Robber Bridegroom - 2016 Off-Broadway Cast

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For the handful of cast album collectors out there who happen to own a copy of the original 1976 Broadway cast recording of The Robber Bridegroom, they know what a poor listening experience that album is. Despite fantastic performances by Barry Bostwick (who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the titular character) and a great supporting cast, the sound of that album, at least on the CD transfer, is completely muddy, as if the microphones were covered in peanut butter, submerged in water, and then placed in a room next to the recording studio. That major failing aside, the cast album, with its collection of bluegrass-flavored tunes by Robert Waldman, is still a fun album and with no other commercially available version of the score previously available has earned many repeated listens on my playlist, flaws and all.

Jump ahead to 2016 and the news that Roundabout Theatre Company would be producing a major revival of The Robber Bridegroom off-Broadway starring Broadway leading man Steven Pasquale. I, for one, was more excited about the potential of a new cast album coming out of this production than the production itself and indeed, thanks to Ghostlight Records, we have a new, sharply produced cast album to celebrate. And yet...

REVIEW: Funny Girl - London Revival Cast

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On the back of Sheridan Smith's name, the initial run of the London revival of Funny Girl sold out in a single morning. The producers announced a transfer into the West End before it had even opened at the Menier. The reviews were mostly sensational, but Smith's tenure in the role has been somewhat troubled, especially since the show transferred to the Savoy, and she missed several weeks of performances due to "exhaustion." Is Ms. Smith "the greatest star," as she sings near the top of the show? Well... perhaps this revival's cast recording doesn't play to her greatest strengths.

REVIEW: State Fair - Original 1962 Film Soundtrack

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For years, the 1962 remake of State Fair was considered the worst film in the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon, and were it not for the 1998 animated atrocity committed upon The King and I, it might still hold the title. Yet despite its many shortcomings, chiefly that it's slow and bloated, it produced an enjoyable soundtrack notable not only for performances by Ann-Margret, Bobby Darin, Alice Faye, and Pat Boone, but also for the couple of new songs Rodgers (post-Hammerstein) added to the score. Now, Stage Door Records has given the original soundtrack album its first CD issue as part of their limited edition Collector's Series, so Rodgers & Hammerstein devotees should act quickly before the edition sells out.

REVIEW: Two Cities - Original London Cast

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It was the best of shows, it was the worst of shows. The appeal of Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities as source material for a musical isn’t difficult to fathom: it can easily be presented as a sweeping romance with an epic historical backdrop, there’s plenty of room for spectacle, and the story can accommodate a large chorus. It’s also a familiar title, and (like Les Misérables for the French) everybody knows the most famous lines, and has at least some idea of the basic plot. It’s been adapted for the musical stage several times – at least four musicals, plus a couple of operas – but (unlike Les Misérables) it’s never become a major stage hit.

This particular adaptation, titled simply Two Cities, opened at London’s Palace Theatre in 1969, and it has two headline attractions: music by Jeff Wayne, who went on to compose the score for the War of the Worlds concept album, and Edward Woodward making a (relatively) rare musical appearance as Sydney Carton. They’re both worth your attention; as for the show itself, it received a decidedly mixed critical response, and based on the material on this album, it’s not at all difficult to see why.