Cast Albums Blog
REVIEW: The Michael Friedman Collection
When Michael Friedman died at age 41 from HIV/AIDS complications, the entire musical theater community was struck speechless. Beyond the real, human loss of a beloved man felled by a disease that should be treatable, there was the sense that an artist had been cut off right on the verge of coming into his prime. Despite some justly lauded achievements such as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Love's Labour's Lost, and Fortress of Solitude (all three produced by New York's Public Theater), he never quite broke through to the top echelon of creators.
Beyond his affiliation with The Public Theater, Friedman's other artist home was The Civilians, a company interested in "the intersection between the theatrical and the real." Much of their work is research-based and often verbatim, meaning the words spoken and sung by their characters are exact (or lightly edited) transcripts of interviews the artists conducted with real people. Gone Missing, Friedman's first cast recording, was the product of such a process.
When Friedman died, The Civilians (led by artistic director and frequent Friedman collaborator Steve Cosson) teamed up with Ghostlight Records to preserve his work through a long-term program of recording studio cast albums of nine of his previously unrecorded scores. Dubbed The Michael Friedman Collection, the project kicked off with three releases in October, 2019: The Abominables, The Great Immensity and This Beautiful City.
REVIEW: Broadway & Beyond – Marin Mazzie & Jason Daniely Live at Feinstein\'s/54 Below
Let's start with the obvious: the quality of Broadway & Beyond – Marin Mazzie & Jason Danieley Live at Feinstein's/54 Below is likely irrelevant to most of the people who will buy a copy, at least on its initial release. As a recording of the last concert these married Broadway stars gave before Marin died from ovarian cancer at age 57, the album (which, thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign, will also be released as a video) makes a meaningful keepsake for fans.
That it just so happens to capture an absolutely gorgeous performance is gravy. The album was recorded June 1, 2017, slightly more than two years after Marin's diagnosis, but there's absolutely no sign of illness or weakness in her singing. (Jason sounds great too.) Backed by a three-piece band (musical director Joseph Thalken on piano, Pete Donovan on bass, and Rich Rosensweig on drums), the couple present highlights from their careers, starting with a medley of standards that had been incorporated into the avant garde production of The Trojan Women on which they met and including songs from The King and I, South Pacific, Kiss Me, Kate, The Full Monty, Curtains, The Visit, Ragtime, and even My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs. You'll also hear a couple of familiar cuts from the first album they cut together, Opposite You, and for an encore, the song they danced to at their wedding, "Our Love Is Here To Stay."
REVIEW: Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish – 2018 Revival Cast
With 92 previous recordings of Fiddler on the Roof in our database, including at least two in Yiddish, it's only fair to ask: do I really need the 2018 cast recording of the off-Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.
Yes, you really do.
Beyond capturing this truly beautiful production – if you haven't seen it and you're anywhere near New York, please do treat yourself – this deluxe set offers treasures for the Fiddler expert and neophyte alike. It's as though record producer Robert Sher began his process by asking the very question you're probably asking: what could possibly make a new Fiddler on the Roof recording an essential addition to one's collection?
REVIEW: Renascence - Original Off-Broadway Cast
Renascence sounds like a risky proposition on paper: a biographical musical about a poet, utilizing the subject's poems as lyrics, with a score by a first-time composer. Surprisingly, joyfully, composer Carmel Dean (better known as a Broadway music director) has created a beautiful album from the poems of Edna St. Vincent Milay, aided in no small part by a fabulous cast led by Broadway's current Elphaba, Hannah Corneau in the role of Vincent (as we're told she's called).
While most poetry sounds awkward when set to music, Milay's writing sits more readily on melody thanks in part to her reliance on poetic forms based in strict meters and rhyme. What's more, Dean's settings sound like actual show music – of the contemporary variety, to be sure, but unquestionably music intended for the theater and not the concert hall.
REVIEW: The Jonathan Larson Project
I'm not going to pretend that any review is at all objective, but even so, it's hard to even pretend an objectivity when it comes to The Jonathan Larson Project. The original cast recording of Rent came out the week I started college, and no matter how old and cynical I get, Jonathan Larson's music has an indelible hold on my heart. Those of us who were blown away in real time when his unique voice burst through into the mainstream faced crushing disappointment when we realized near simultaneously that we weren't going to get to hear more from him.
That turned out not to be entirely true. We got a Tick, Tick... Boom! cast recording in 2001 and Jonathan Sings Larson in 2007, but nothing more in over a decade. Well, that's not entirely true. In 2014, Encores! Off-Center presented a brief revival of Tick, Tick... Boom! As part of their Lobby Project, which presents free musicals events in City Center's mezzanine lobby in advance of certain Off-Center performances, producer Jennifer Ashley Tepper presented a handful of unknown Larson tunes. That event served as the seed that eventually grew (thanks in part to Tepper immersing herself in Larson's papers at the Library of Congress) to a series of concerts at Feinstein's/54 Below, which has now been preserved in the studio and served to us as this album.