48.9 F

Take Home Broadway! – Even Tony Winners; and What about Sir John Gielgud and Bette Davis?

Fun Home CD
Fun Home CD

The Tony and Drama Desk Awards have come and gone, there’ve been winners and not-winners in the Musical categories. It was a season of great scores – one for the books with 10 musicals. Whether you’ve seen the shows or not, you can take a few cast albums home.

All are quite reasonably-priced, with an SRP of less than $20. In addition, there are reissues of two long-out-print classics by two giants of the entertainment world.

Fun Home (PS Classics), reissued and updated. Five-time Tony nominee Jeanine Tesori and three-time Tony nominee Lisa Kron’s intimate and poignant Tony-winning Best musical, book, and score [a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize], had a slew more of Bests: Actor, Michael Cerveris; Director, Sam Gold – and nominations: Actress, Beth Malone; Featured Actress, Sydney Lucas, Emily Skeggs, and Judy Kuhn; and Orchestrations, John Clancy. The album features new material written for the Broadway production and additional material not included on the original recording. The 27 tracks include “It All Comes Back,” “Ring of Keys,” “Days and Days,” “Edges of the World,” and “Flying Away.”

The King and I (Decca Broadway) – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical won Tony and DDs for Best Revival. Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara, Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe, Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, and Conrad Ricamora star in the stunning LCT production. Who cares if it’s – how does that oft-seen screen credit read: loosely based on a real story. 18 tracks, including “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “Something Wonderful,” one of R&H’s most finely-crafted tunes “I Have Dreamed,” and a four-minute plus rendition of “Shall We Dance?”

On the Town (PS Classics, two-disc set) – Please stand for the national anthem, just as audiences are asked to do on Broadway at this rousing nominee, which premiered in 1944. It was nominated for Best Revival [the third and, in review after review, considered best yet]. Join three sailors on 24-hour shore leave conquer our helluva town from the Bronx, which is up, and the Battery, which is down: Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and Clyde Alves as they attempt to find the perfect gal – hitting on Megan Fairchild, Alysha Umphress, and DD nominee Elizabeth Stanley. Bernstein/Camden and Green classics are played by a 28-piece orchestra: “New York, New York”, the ballet “Lonely Town”, “Lucky to Be Me,” “I Can Cook, Too” and Bernstein’s “Some Other Time.”

An American in Paris, (Masterworks Broadway), keeps the classic George and Ira Gershwin score from the Oscar-winning film but partially reimagines the book. It earned 13 Tony nods, including Best Musical, Actor and Actress for exquisite dancers Robert Fairchild [DD Award for Outstanding Actor] and Leanne Cope and Featured Actors Brandon Uranowitz [chanelling the acerbic Oscar Levant from the film] and Max von Essen. It won director Christopher Wheeldon a Choreography Tony and DD; and Tonys for orchestrators Christopher Austin, Bill Elliott, and Don Sebesky. Rob Fisher is the musical supervisor. Jill Paice is calculating and seductive as the other woman. 17 tracks, including “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “’S Wonderful,” “But Not For Me,” and “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.”

On the Twentieth Century (PS Classics, two discs) – Nominated for Best Revival, Actress, Featured Actor (Andy Karl). Who could have thought that anyone could almost erase the indelible mark Madeline Kahn [or even Carole Lombard in the classic 1934 scatterbrain romp] made in the Cy Coleman/Comden and Green 1978, but Kristin Chenoweth soars [winning a DD Award], with manic support from Peter Gallagher as a down on his luck Broadway producer [the great John Barrymore in the film], abetted by Michael McGrath, Mary Louise Wilson, and Mark Linn Baker. Snappy direction by Scott Ellis. A first class recording, which includes the entire score. 36 tracks, including intro dialogue that almost puts you in a theatre seat, the rousing overture, “I Rise Again,” “I’ve Got It All,” “Life Is Like a Train,” “Never” and “Our Private World.”

A CD composite provided by Ellis Nassour
A CD composite provided by Ellis Nassour

Something’s Rotten (Ghostlight Records) [Digital album available; in stores July 17], Grammy winner Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell’s “uproarious dose of pure Broadway fun and an irresistible ode to musicals,” with so many insider sight gag homages that you lose count, on how desperation to write a hit play led to tunes creeping into Shakespearean-era plays and gave birth to musicals – and the chorus line. It received Tony and DD-nominations for Musical, its creators, director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw, and actors Brian d’Arcy James, Christian Borle, and the amazing Brad Oscar. Borle captured a Featured Tony and DD as Renaissance star playwright, The Bard. The outstanding cast includes John Cariani and hilarious Peter Bartlett, who certainly knows how to deliver a line. 18 tracks, highlighted by rousing opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance” and the addictive “A Musical,” which no doubt has already become a theater standard.

Dropping July 10 is the Broadway original cast CD of John Doyle’s’ reimagined, abridged production of Kander and Ebb’s The Visit (Yellow Sound/Broadway Records), a tale of romance, seduction, betrayal, and revenge adapted by Tony-nominated Terrence McNally from the Dürrenmatt satirical classic as adapted by Maurice Valency, which was Tony-nominated for Best Musical with a nod, of course, for Chita Rivera. The score is highlighted by “Love and Love Alone” and “I Would Never Leave You.”

August will see the digital release of Brian Hargrove and Barbara Anselmi’s comedy set against the complicated scenario of a wedding, It Shoulda Been You (Ghostlight), with the hard copy out September 18. Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Lisa Howard, Sierra Boggess, Montego Glover, Chip Zien, Josh Grisetti, and Edward Hibbert compete in the high jinks.

Also available is the cast CD of DD nominees Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Bergman’s Honeymoon in Vegas (UMe), a terrific audience-pleaser, highlighted by Rob McClure’s manic comic turn and the opening number he dominates, “I Love Betsy” and the scene-stealing antics of DD-nominated veteran star Nancy Opel, that deserved a much longer life [co-star Tony Danza will do the national tour.

And these rarities:

Sir John Gielgud, one of theater’s legendary actors with what has been termed “the most expressive, musical voice in the modern English theater,” had enduring success touring 20 years and winning a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy in his one-man Shakespearean evening Ages of Man, selected excerpts – Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Richard III, The Tempest, Winter’s Tale – that dramatized the arc of human experience, from life to death. Available as Manufacture-on-Demand and digital download at www.MasterwordsBroadway.com. Hardcopy through Arkiv Music, July 13.

Screen legend Bette Davis made a short-lived 1952 return to Broadway [90 performances] in, what else!, a charming and satirical musical revue Two’s Company by Vernon Duke, Sammy Cahn, and Ogden Nash – with special material from Sheldon Harnick, Horton Foote, and Peter DeVries – and choreography from no less than Jerome Robbins [can you imagine the rehearsal clashes when Robbins attempted to tell BD what to do!]. With song, dance, and comedy not her strong points, BD was in over her head, panicked (collapsing to SRO gasps opening night), and jumped ship. Co-stars were George S. Irving (Oklahoma!), ballerina Maria Karnilova [Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba), David Burns (A Funny Thing…, Hello, Dolly), and Tina Louise. Davis high points: “Turn Me Loose on Broadway,” “Just Like a Man.” Comedian Hiram Sherman stole the show, which didn’t please the diva any, and went on to win a Tony. Available as above.


Ellis Nassour is an Ole Miss alum and noted arts journalist and author who recently donated an ever-growing exhibition of performing arts history to the University of Mississippi. He is the author of the best-selling Patsy Cline biography, Honky Tonk Angel, as well as the hit musical revue, Always, Patsy Cline.

Most Popular

Recent Comments

scamasdscamith on News Watch Ole Miss
Frances Phillips on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Grace Hudditon on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Millie Johnston on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Binary options + Bitcoin = $ 1643 per week: https://8000-usd-per-day.blogspot.com.tr?b=46 on Beta Upsilon Chi: A Christian Brotherhood
Jay Mitchell on Reflections: The Square
Terry Wilcox SFCV USA RET on Oxford's Five Guys Announces Opening Date
Stephanie on Throwback Summer
organized religion is mans downfall on VP of Palmer Home Devotes Life to Finding Homes for Children
Paige Williams on Boyer: Best 10 Books of 2018
Keith mansel on Cleveland On Medgar Evans
Zico on SASI Demands