Cast Albums Blog
REVIEW: Follies - 2018 National Theatre
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.
REVIEW: Brigadoon - 2017 New York City Center
I should probably admit this upfront: as much as I love the score – and I really love the score – on stage, Brigadoon doesn’t do a great deal for me. I'm well aware that there are people who would probably have me arrested for saying so, but there’s something about Alan Jay Lerner’s book for the show that always feels slightly synthetic, and I am severely allergic to cutesy dancing villagers in period costumes, with or without kilts and overdone accents.
As a score, on the other hand, Brigadoon is glorious. This is some of Frederick Loewe’s loveliest music, and when it’s performed well, as it certainly is here, it is absolutely transporting, even if you usually have to look past a few dodgy ersatz-Scottish accents. The songs at the heart of this score are some of the very best you’ll find in any golden-age Broadway musical. The Love of My Life is a fine character number, Almost Like Being In Love is one of the all-time great duets, and Come To Me, Bend To Me and There But For You, Go I are simply gorgeous.
REVIEW: King Kong -- 1961 London Cast
You can all breathe a sigh of relief. Aside from the title, this show has absolutely nothing in common with the much-lambasted ape-puppet extravaganza that recently opened on Broadway. This King Kong was a landmark piece of theatre in apartheid-era South Africa, and is a biographical musical based on the life of heavyweight boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, whose nickname in the ring was -- yes -- King Kong. The show premiered at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg in 1959, and was produced in London in 1961. Thanks to the invaluable Stage Door Records, it's the London production's cast album we have here, packaged with selections from the original South African recording and three covers of numbers from the show.
REVIEW: Everybody\'s Talking About Jamie - Original London Cast
Almost a year into its West End run, which followed a tryout production in Sheffield in 2017, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is now established as a hit. A performance has been broadcast live to cinemas, a film adaptation is on the way, and a London cast album (supplanting the concept album released to accompany that first production in Sheffield) has been available in the UK for a few months now. It’s finally getting a US release, which will hopefully introduce Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s wonderful score to a significantly wider audience.
REVIEW: Lost West End Vintage (Volume 2)
Here's another invaluable compilation album from Stage Door Records. Like the first Lost West End Vintage set last year, this collection offers a window into a chapter of British theatrical history that has left surprisingly few ripples, even though a good number of American musicals from the same period (1943 to 1962, broadly analogous to Broadway's so-called 'golden age') are still in the repertoire. Perhaps the musicals included here are not always lost masterpieces – whatever their merits may (once) have been, I don't imagine anybody is holding their breath for a revival of Dear Miss Phoebe or Cage Me a Peacock or The Love Doctor – but a great deal of this music is well worth your attention. I was already familiar with very little of the material included here, and a lot of it is tremendously entertaining.