Cast Albums Blog
REVIEW: War Paint - Original Broadway Cast
War Paint has a pedigree that most Broadway shows can only dream of — and yet I am disappointed to report that the Original Broadway Cast recording is uneven, and at times laughable (and not in the good way). That being said, there are a few shining moments, mostly thanks to the show's leading ladies Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole.
Ebersole and LuPone play cosmetic entrepreneurs Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein respectively, and do so with aplomb. The very real historical rivalry between these titans of beauty gives both actresses an abundance of material to draw on, and they don't skimp on the delivery.
REVIEW: Dreamgirls - Original London Cast
It's hard to believe that it's taken almost thirty-five years for Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen's dazzling Dreamgirls to be staged in London. It's also, perhaps, a little surprising that it's taken six months for Casey Nicholaw's UK premiere production to yield a cast recording, given that it opened to mostly very strong reviews and has been doing well at the box-office – particularly since neither the Broadway cast album nor the much more complete concert recording from 2001 is entirely satisfactory. That's unfortunate, because this is one of the great late-20th-Century theatre scores; in telling the story of the tempestuous rise of a Motown-style 60s girl group, composer Henry Krieger offers a whistle-stop tour through twenty years of (black) popular music. Krieger continually blurs the line between recitative and standalone arias so that the sung scenes bleed imperceptibly into the score's big takeaway hits; three and a half decades after it first premiered, the brilliance with which Krieger manipulates straight-from-the-radio pop, soul, r&b, and funk into a genuinely theatrical pop opera remains more or less unparalleled.
REVIEW: Emily Skinner & Alice Ripley: Unattached - Live at Feinstein's/54 Below
After nearly twenty years of working together, the tremendously talented Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley reunited at Feinstein's/54 Below to remind us all of just how sensational these two are when they hit the stage as a pair. If you are not familiar with the rich performance history and friendship of these two women, I suggest that you take the time to read Jennifer Ashley Tepper's liner notes before listening to the album. I also strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with Side Show, the production that formed the nucleus of the Skinner/Ripley sisterhood of the matching dresses—not because you need to in order to enjoy Unattached, but if for no other reason than it is a fantastic show.
Their new recording, Unattached, opens with Side Show's anthem of sisterhood, "I Will Never Leave You" complete with the women in matching ensembles, setting off a comedic sartorial subplot that continues for the rest of the album. After some amusing banter reminiscent of their marvellous 2006 album Raw at Town Hall, the onstage sisters delight us with a medley of songs about friendship including songs from Gypsy, and DuBarry Was A Lady, and I defy you not to wish you could join in with them, or at the very least have a drink with these two dames. The amazing thing about Skinner and Ripley is that they can make you laugh and feel like you are at a party, and in the next moment destroy you with a raw and poignant torch song.
REVIEW: Groundhog Day - Original Broadway Cast
Good things come to those who wait. Having seen – and utterly fallen for – Groundhog Day last summer at the Old Vic in London, I’ve been (im)patiently anticipating the Original Broadway Cast recording ever since. Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis’s film about an obnoxious weatherman doomed to relive the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania over and over again until he rediscovers his humility and humanity would seem on the face of it to resist adaptation as a musical, but Rubin’s book for the musical isn’t simply a retread of his screenplay with spaces carved out for songs. In adapting his own work, Rubin has transformed what was essentially a star vehicle into a rather more complex examination of the various ways people find themselves living their lives in repetitive cycles. It’s a quirky, fiercely intelligent, very funny show, and Tim Minchin’s score is glorious; I walked out of the theatre humming There Will Be Sun and Seeing You, I’ve been humming them ever since, and I was eager to discover whether the songs I remembered so fondly stood up divorced from Matthew Warchus’s dazzling staging.
REVIEW: Everybody's Talking About Jamie - Concept Album
If you were lucky enough, as I was, to see Sheffield Crucible’s world premiere production of Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s glorious new musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie a couple of months ago, you’ve probably had ‘Don’t Even Know It’, the show’s infuriatingly catchy opening number, bouncing around in your head ever since. If you weren’t, just wait. If there’s any justice – in showbusiness there often isn’t, but never mind – this show will have a long, long life. You may not have heard it yet, but you will.