Cast Albums Blog
REVIEW: King Kong -- 1961 London Cast
You can all breathe a sigh of relief. Aside from the title, this show has absolutely nothing in common with the much-lambasted ape-puppet extravaganza that recently opened on Broadway. This King Kong was a landmark piece of theatre in apartheid-era South Africa, and is a biographical musical based on the life of heavyweight boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, whose nickname in the ring was -- yes -- King Kong. The show premiered at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg in 1959, and was produced in London in 1961. Thanks to the invaluable Stage Door Records, it's the London production's cast album we have here, packaged with selections from the original South African recording and three covers of numbers from the show.
REVIEW: Everybody\'s Talking About Jamie - Original London Cast
Almost a year into its West End run, which followed a tryout production in Sheffield in 2017, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is now established as a hit. A performance has been broadcast live to cinemas, a film adaptation is on the way, and a London cast album (supplanting the concept album released to accompany that first production in Sheffield) has been available in the UK for a few months now. It’s finally getting a US release, which will hopefully introduce Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s wonderful score to a significantly wider audience.
REVIEW: Lost West End Vintage (Volume 2)
Here's another invaluable compilation album from Stage Door Records. Like the first Lost West End Vintage set last year, this collection offers a window into a chapter of British theatrical history that has left surprisingly few ripples, even though a good number of American musicals from the same period (1943 to 1962, broadly analogous to Broadway's so-called 'golden age') are still in the repertoire. Perhaps the musicals included here are not always lost masterpieces – whatever their merits may (once) have been, I don't imagine anybody is holding their breath for a revival of Dear Miss Phoebe or Cage Me a Peacock or The Love Doctor – but a great deal of this music is well worth your attention. I was already familiar with very little of the material included here, and a lot of it is tremendously entertaining.
REVIEW: Jessica Vosk - Wild and Free
You might not yet be familiar with the name Jessica Vosk. As a performer whose most significant credits are Fruma-Sarah in the Fiddler revival and the 20th Broadway Elphaba, she hasn't yet had the opportunity to breakout and ascend to true Broadway stardom. If we live in a just universe, her debut album, Wild and Free, would be that opportunity.
Vosk has the kind of backstory that press agents dream about: she left a successful Wall Street career in her twenties to pursue showbiz, working her way quickly up the musical theatre ladder while amassing a cult following of fans and establishing herself as a first-rate cabaret performer. Those fans rallied with remarkable speed to crowdfund this album while she was touring the country in Wicked, and now the album drops not long after she stepped into the Broadway production.
REVIEW: Bat Out of Hell - Original London Cast
Released in Canada last year to coincide with the show’s Toronto opening and only now getting a full UK release several months into the second London run, the original cast recording of Bat out of Hell: the Musical turns out to sound exactly the way you’d expect it to if, like me, you’ve yet to see the show. At twenty-one (long) tracks over two discs, the album appears to give a reasonably complete account of the show’s principal musical numbers, most of which have been lifted from Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell trilogy. Either you like Jim Steinman’s floridly grandiose, quasi-operatic brand of rock or you don’t; I do, and I was prepared to love this album, but I never quite got there. It’s never bad, but it’s also never surprising: divorced from the show’s context, you’re left with a selection of mostly familiar songs presented in arrangements which never stray too far from Steinman’s trademark sound, performed by a superb band and a cast of apparently iron-lunged singers, none of whom are as distinctive or as interesting as the people who performed the songs on the original recordings.