This trio of album reviews covers Peter Pan A Musical Adventure, The Confession Room and Marie Christine
“Would I oblige?
Michael John LaChiusa is one of those composers of the new American musical theatre mould, or maybe even beyond, in adopting a dense and complex compositional style that means his work hasn’t always had the credit it deserves. This original Broadway cast recording of his 1999 show Marie Christine feels like a case in point – a Tony-nominated book and score that has rarely been revived, never mind made it to the UK. An adaptation of the Medea story that relocates it to 1890s New Orleans, it is blessed by a stunning central performance from Audra McDonald as a remarkably vicious leading lady. The score is made up of fragmented pieces of music rather than conventional notions of what we would consider a song but its operatic drama hits the mark for me. And I’d love to see it the UK some time soon please…
The original cast recording of Stiles and Drewe’s Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure from the West Yorkshire Playhouse is really rather sweet. Stiles and Drewe do seem cut from an old-school cloth that taps into something so soulful, helped here obviously by a familiar story which makes the whole thing feel remarkably nostalgic even though it is a new musical. The tenderness of Kirsty Hoiles’ ‘Just Beyond The Stars’ or the joyous thrill of ‘Never Land’ led by James Gillan feel right out of a Disney film in their immediate tunefulness and direct emotion. Amy Lennox’s Wendy and David Birrell’s Hook also have great moments to shine in an adaptation that you’d think has the potential to be a festive mainstay.
I actually got to see a concert version of The Confession Room a couple of years ago but never quite to round to catching up with the concept album that had already been released. Ultimately, I don’t think I have too much more to say than to reiterate that the first half needs a little work to unclutter and clarify its set-up but the second half is an absolute blinder. Dean Chisnall and Alex Gaumond nail the best songs in ‘Perfect’ and ‘Second Chances’ alongside Matthew Rowland’s ‘Excalibur93’ which feels ever more pertinent in this day and age.