Cast Albums Blog

Category Archive:  Review

REVIEW: ...and then I wrote THE MUSIC MAN


Recording Cover

England's Stage Door records continues its delightful Collector's Series with the first CD release of "...and then I wrote THE MUSIC MAN," the 1959 Capitol album featuring composer Meredith Willson and his wife Rini singing the hit score while Mr. Willson provides piano accompaniment and running narration. If you ever wanted to be a fly in the wall at a golden age backers' audition, find yourself a small, crowded New York apartment and play this disc; you'll find it's a perfect simulation.

While this album will never be anyone's go-to version of The Music Man, both Willson sing considerably better than the average musical theater writer you're likely to hear in similar circumstances. Mrs. Willson's Russian accent adds no small amount of charm to a score meant to convey small-town, midwestern America, but it's nothing compared to what her clear, straightforward soprano brings to the table.


REVIEW: Maddie - Original London Cast (Deluxe Edition)


Recording Cover

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 chaoticlab 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.


REVIEW: Hairspray Live!


Recording Cover

Can it really be that almost 15 years have passed since the bubbly and boisterous musical Hairspray first took Broadway by storm? The show lived on the Great White Way for 8 ½ years, winning the Tony for Best Musical, had numerous regional productions, and was even made into a well-received movie. In many ways, Hairspray, despite its age, has never really left the modern Broadway canon. With tomorrow night's production of Hairspray Live! on NBC, we'll have one more version to add to the mix.


REVIEW: The Robber Bridegroom - 2016 Off-Broadway Cast


Recording Cover

For the handful of cast album collectors out there who happen to own a copy of the original 1976 Broadway cast recording of The Robber Bridegroom, they know what a poor listening experience that album is. Despite fantastic performances by Barry Bostwick (who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the titular character) and a great supporting cast, the sound of that album, at least on the CD transfer, is completely muddy, as if the microphones were covered in peanut butter, submerged in water, and then placed in a room next to the recording studio. That major failing aside, the cast album, with its collection of bluegrass-flavored tunes by Robert Waldman, is still a fun album and with no other commercially available version of the score previously available has earned many repeated listens on my playlist, flaws and all.

Jump ahead to 2016 and the news that Roundabout Theatre Company would be producing a major revival of The Robber Bridegroom off-Broadway starring Broadway leading man Steven Pasquale. I, for one, was more excited about the potential of a new cast album coming out of this production than the production itself and indeed, thanks to Ghostlight Records, we have a new, sharply produced cast album to celebrate. And yet...


REVIEW: Funny Girl - London Revival Cast


Recording Cover

On the back of Sheridan Smith's name, the initial run of the London revival of Funny Girl sold out in a single morning. The producers announced a transfer into the West End before it had even opened at the Menier. The reviews were mostly sensational, but Smith's tenure in the role has been somewhat troubled, especially since the show transferred to the Savoy, and she missed several weeks of performances due to "exhaustion." Is Ms. Smith "the greatest star," as she sings near the top of the show? Well... perhaps this revival's cast recording doesn't play to her greatest strengths.