Cast Albums Blog

Author Archive:  sfarrow

REVIEW: Rags - Original London Cast


Recording Cover

It’s not impossible that somebody could spin a doctoral thesis out of picking apart all the various revisions that have been made over the years to Rags, the four-performance 1986 Broadway flop with a Charles Strouse-Stephen Schwartz score. That score, which contains a great deal of Strouse’s best music, is the reason so many people have tried to fix a show that stubbornly refuses to work; the 1987 studio recording, which features most of the Broadway production’s cast with Julia Migenes standing in for original leading lady Teresa Stratas, is one of the most glorious musical theatre albums of its decade, and gives the impression of a show that very much deserved to be a hit.

That 1987 recording, though, is the reason people approaching this new London cast recording of the most recent revised version of the show might want to manage their expectations: the show has undergone many revisions over the past three decades, and there are significant differences between the version of the score heard in the now-standard version of the show and the version represented on the studio album.

Read the rest of this post...


REVIEW: Songs From Inside My Locker - Robbie Rozelle, Live at Feinstein's/54 BELOW


Recording Cover

The first line of designer/director/producer/singer Robbie Rozelle's liner notes for his debut cabaret album – "I never expected to be a performer" – might lead you to lower your expectations. There's no need: Songs From Inside My Locker – a Kickstarter-funded live recording of Rozelle's show at New York's 54 Below – is a delight. It's a brave show for Rozelle to put out there as the basis of his first solo recording – the show's backbone is Rozelle's own coming-of-age story, which inevitably means this album presents the listener with a very personal collection of songs and stories – but Rozelle is such an endearing, engaging presence that this hour or so in his company flies by.

Read the rest of this post...


REVIEW: The New Yorkers - Encores! Concert Cast


Recording Cover

Three years after it played at New York's City Center, here's the cast recording of the Encores! Production of what, here, is billed as "Cole Porter's The New Yorkers." It's not, as the liner notes will tell you, precisely an authentic recreation of the 1930 original, but don't let that put you off: this album is an hour and five minutes of the kind of sheer pleasure you wish someone could bottle.

Read the rest of this post...


REVIEW: Randy Rainbow - Hey Gurl, It's Christmas!


Recording Cover

It was probably inevitable that comedian/singer/YouTube phenomenon Randy Rainbow would release a Christmas recording. Rainbow is a prodigiously talented writer and performer whose sweetly vicious satirical jabs at political figures have deservedly drawn a huge internet following, and his sharply subversive video parodies are often very funny indeed.

Whether those talents, impressive as they are, sustain over the course of seven tracks is another question. There’s a great deal here that is utterly charming; even over a span of just twenty-nine minutes, though, this album is perhaps a little much when taken all at once. The thing about YouTube parodies is that we watch them in isolation – you (or at least I) watch the latest one, and then move on to something else. Seven tracks in succession, I’m afraid, gave me a sugar rush.

Read the rest of this post...


REVIEW: Follies - 2018 National Theatre


Recording Cover

A year after it was recorded, the cast album of the National Theatre’s 2017 production of Follies was finally released last week as a download, with the promise of a CD to come. Given that the production’s greatest strengths lay in the book scenes - director Dominic Cooke moved the show back towards a text that is closer to the 1971 original than the current published script, and got his cast to give an electrifying account of James Goldman’s rather heightened dialogue – a cast recording of this production, while welcome, was arguably not essential, not least because several of this production’s leads, while they gave tremendously moving performances, are (much) stronger actors than singers. Having said that, Stephen Sondheim’s score for Follies is one of the American musical theatre’s great landmarks, and a new recording is always welcome – and while it isn’t necessarily an essential purchase, those of us who loved the production, even if we had reservations about some aspects of it, have been eagerly awaiting it ever since it was announced.

Read the rest of this post...