Cast Albums Blog

REVIEW: Merman's Apprentice - Original Cast

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If you've ever uttered the phrase "they don't make 'em like they used to anymore," I would kindly direct your attention to Merman's Apprentice, the new musical by Stephen Cole (book & lyrics) and David Evans (music), which tells "a musical fable" about La Merm mentoring a teenage star to take over the role in David Merrick's all-children version of Hello, Dolly!

Wait, what? No, Merrick never pulled off that stunt, though one can easily imagine him hearing about this show from the afterlife and ruefully thinking, "Why didn't I think of that?" This is fable, not documentary. But like the best fables, it has plenty of heart and you might learn a little something from it too.

Cast Album Formats Through the Years

REVIEW: The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Studio Cast

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If you only know The Hunchback of Notre Dame from the 1996 Disney animated film, you're in for a surprise the first time you listen to the newly released Studio Cast Recording of Disney Theatrical's stage adaptation. Taking a more "adult" approach to the material by hewing closer to the Victor Hugo source, composer Alan Menken, lyricist Stephen Schwartz, and librettist Peter Parnell have given us a Hunchback that bleeds, lusts, and ultimately soars.

REVIEW: His Monkey Wife / Aladdin - Original London Casts

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From Stage Door Records, here’s a real curiosity. His Monkey Wife and Aladdin are two all-but-forgotten minor works from opposite ends of the 1970s by the English composer/lyricist Sandy Wilson. Their relatively short scores are brought together and re-released on this single disc, and they both prove to be thoroughly charming – even if, like me, you find a little of ‘The Boy Friend’, Wilson’s best-known score, goes a (very) long way.

REVIEW: The Wiz Live! Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event

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It makes sense that The Wiz Live!, the best of NBC's recent live musical broadcasts, should produce the best album of the three as well. Even so, you might be surprised by just how good this soundtrack is. As exciting as the live show was, there were some iffy notes and more than a few moments of sub-par sound mixing. None of that is in evidence on the album. Superstar producer Harvey Mason, Jr. and co-producer/music director Stephen Oremus have lovingly spun the raw material from the broadcast into recording gold. And despite the addition of effects (most obviously a lot of additional reverb and yes, some auto-tuning) to create a sonic experience more akin to a studio-recorded pop album, The Wiz Live! never sounds overproduced and, oddly enough, comes out more theatrical than the self-consciously pop original cast recording.