Cast Albums Blog
REVIEW: Girl from the North Country - Original London Cast
Billed as a 'play with songs' rather than a musical, Conor McPherson's Girl from the North Country, now in the final week of a run at London's Old Vic, has proved to be one of the summer's sleeper hits. In the early part of the run, discounts were readily available, but the final performances are completely sold out. There's every chance the show will have some kind of further life elsewhere; in the meantime, the cast recording makes a strong case for it as an unusual, sometimes achingly beautiful piece of music theatre.
REVIEW: The View UpStairs - Original Cast
The View UpStairs tells the story of The UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans that was the victim of an arson attack in June of 1973, killing 32 people. The attack was not widely covered in the media, and I must admit that I did not know about it until I first read about this musical. Despite the tragic subject matter, composer, lyricist, and book writer Max Vernon has created a glittering world that makes you wish you were a part of it.
The story is told from the perspective of a young fashion designer in the present named Wes who buys the dilapidated building where The UpStairs Lounge used to be. In the show, Wes travels back in time and meets the many characters that populate the Lounge, requiring some major suspension of disbelief on the audience's part.
REVIEW: Anastasia - Original Broadway Cast
Like any 30-something, I have extremely fond memories of the 1997 animated film Anastasia, and was excited when I learned that it was being updated as a new musical. I was also deeply suspicious, as the movie is so treasured, and holds such a special place in the North American cultural zeitgeist that I was concerned about how it would be adapted. I am delighted to say that this album has abated any fears I may have had, and is excellent.
With music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, the show and cast recording contain five of their songs from the 1997 film, as well as twenty new ones, all superbly orchestrated by Doug Besterman. While every song may not be a stand-out, each is extremely well crafted, and a pleasure to listen to.
REVIEW: Lost West End Vintage: London's Forgotten Musicals 1948-1962
From Stage Door Records, another worthwhile curiosity. Lost West End Vintage is a compilation of tracks from British musicals that premiered during what is generally considered the American musical’s “golden age” – that is, between the mid-1940s and the 1970s. These shows almost all predate the ascendance in this country of the Lloyd Webber megamusical, and they have mostly sunk without trace; you’re unlikely to see a revival of Wild Grows the Heather or Expresso Bongo or Cage Me a Peacock anytime soon. That doesn’t mean they don’t contain any worthwhile music, though, and the 52 – yes, 52 – tracks included on this compilation’s two discs include several unappreciated gems. They include some things you’ll listen to once and subsequently skip, of course, but that’s the nature of this kind of album; fortunately, the good here far outweighs the bad, and the best of this recording is very entertaining indeed.
REVIEW: Bubble Boy - Studio Cast
Most albums that we get to review here at Castalbums.org are preservations of major Broadway productions, shows that many of us have gotten to see. It's a nice treat then to be given the recording of Bubble Boy -- a little known musical with a loopy premise -- without any sense of how it plays on stage, for a listen. Based on the 2001 film starring a young Jake Gyllenhaal, the show tells the improbable story of Jimmy Livingston, an autoimmune-deficient young man who has been forced to live his life in a plastic bubble. In more serious hands, this would be the stuff of Dear Evan Hansen teen-angst, but this wacky musical, fashioned by original screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, is a laugh-out-loud romp. The story, which isn't too hard to follow from the songs (and there are a whopping 23 numbers on the album including reprises), follows a fairly well-worn formula: Boy (in a bubble) meets Girl (not in a bubble), Boy (in a bubble) and Girl fall in love. Girl falls for another Boy (not in a bubble). Boy (in a bubble) goes on a journey to stop Girl from marrying Boy #2. Suffice it to say a tidy ending wraps everything up.