Cast Albums Blog
REVIEW: James and the Giant Peach - Studio Cast
At some point over the last few years, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have developed into one of the finest songwriting teams of the “new musical theatre” generation. They moved from their first show, Edges, created while they were still in college and pleasing but also a little redundant in form, to the off-Broadway hit Dogfight, Tony- and Drama Desk- nominee A Christmas Story, larger national exposure with songs on Smash (and also in an Old Navy ad), and, with the release of a new cast recording, James and the Giant Peach.
REVIEW: Life of an Actress: The Musical - Soundtrack
It's always a little suspicious when a film's soundtrack gets a wider release or more notice than the film itself. Suffice it to say, I had never heard of the 2014 film Life of an Actress when I received my review copy of the soundtrack. Normally, between that the even more glaring red flag of a film that was written, composed, directed, and produced by the same person -- Paul Chau, a former banker whose only previous artistic credits of note were a previous documentary film of the same name and producer billing on a couple of revivals -- I wouldn't even bother. But with a cast including Orfeh, Taylor Louderman, and Allison Case, I figured it was worth giving the album the benefit of the doubt.
How much you'll enjoy this soundtrack depends entirely on how much you're able to let some great performances carry you past other shortcomings: pleasant but undistinguished music set with leaden lyrics (sample: "I want to be an accountant / that's my dream / the first in my family / with a college degree"), and a four piece, synthesizer-heavy band that would sound cheap in a tiny off-Broadway setting. (The band is particularly egregious given how far forward in the mix it is, with its single violin often overpowering the singers.)
Maybe this is the kind of album that coheres a bit more once you've seen the film, but I can find no trace of it existing beyond single screenings in New York and Los Angeles last year. The project's website speaks of an in-development stage version, and you've got to admire Paul Chau's pluck, if not his talent.
REVIEW: Two's Company - Original Cast
Sony’s Masterworks Broadway continues their mission to remaster and rerelease cast albums that have long been out of print, and typically long forgotten. Their most recent release is Two’s Company, a 1952 revue starring Bette Davis. The remastered album features songs mostly by Vernon Duke - Sheldon Harnick contributed a song - with lyrics by Ogden Nash and Sammy Cahn. Jerome Robbins handled the choreography for the original production, which was directed by Jules Dassin.
REVIEW: On the Twentieth Century - 2015 Broadway Cast
There are two words that sum up why the new Broadway cast recording of On the Twentieth Century is a welcome new release: Kristin Chenoweth. As Lily Garland, the scene-stealing comic soprano diva, Chenoweth, in a role she was born to play, tears up the stage and this recording of the 1978 musical in its first-ever Broadway revival. Whether happily chewing on scenery or casting off high notes as effortlessly as breathing, Chenoweth is the main reason why this frothy revival works.
REVIEW: Fun Home - Original Broadway Cast
It’s pretty rare for a cast recording to get an update; sometimes it happens when a major new star takes over a show like Pearl Bailey and the all-black company in Hello, Dolly! or Vanessa Williams in Kiss of the Spider Woman, but a new Broadway recording for this season’s critically acclaimed Fun Home? That was a surprise. PS Classics recorded the autobiographical memory show, based on the graphic novel by lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel about her coming of age and her relationship with her closeted gay father, shortly after its lauded 2013 off-Broadway run at the Public Theater. With a terrific score by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (lyrics), Fun Home was rightly hailed as one of the best new musicals in recent years and quickly went on to be shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.