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REVIEW: Dreamgirls - Original London Cast


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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: Groundhog Day - Original Broadway Cast


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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


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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.


REVIEW: A Bronx Tale - Original Broadway Cast


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A Bronx Tale, Robert De Niro's 1993 movie based on Chazz Palminteri's solo stage play, would not appear to be a property that is crying out to be adapted into a musical. The film is entertaining enough, but nothing about Palminteri's coming-of-age story about a young man named Calogero's brief flirtation with organized crime suggests characters who sing. And so it proves: the musical opened on Broadway last December to middling reviews following a production at the Paper Mill Playhouse; and while it's plodded along at the box office, it hasn't managed to generate an enormous amount of buzz.


REVIEW: Maddie - Original London Cast (Deluxe Edition)


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Stage Door Records does terrific work unearthing lost curiosities. If not everything they release turns out to be a forgotten masterpiece, their catalogue of recordings includes some fascinating material. And so it proves here: based on Jack Finney’s 1973 novel ‘Marion’s Wall’, which also begat the Glenn Close movie ‘Maxie’, Maddie was a relatively swift flop at London’s Lyric Theatre in 1997. Save for one number – Knick Knacks, mercifully absent from this rerelease – the show was never exactly bad, but it was one of those productions (yes, I saw it) where the elements didn’t quite come together, and Summer Rognlie’s strident performance in the leading role didn’t help. The story – about a young woman in San Francisco who becomes possessed by the ghost of a long-dead aspiring actress, with predictably chaotic consequences for her career and marriage – needs a light touch, and didn’t get it, at least from the show’s star; because the central performance didn’t work, whatever charms the material itself might have had tended to remain hidden.