Cast Albums Blog

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


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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.

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REVIEW: The Michael Friedman Collection


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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.

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REVIEW: Broadway & Beyond – Marin Mazzie & Jason Daniely Live at Feinstein\'s/54 Below


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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."

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REVIEW: Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish – 2018 Revival Cast


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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?

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REVIEW: Renascence - Original Off-Broadway Cast


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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.

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