Broadway Album Reviews: Hadestown / Jagged Little Pill / Oklahoma!

Encouraged by their Curtain Up nominations, I take a quick look at the Broadway cast recordings for Hadestown, Jagged Little Pill and Oklahoma!

“I want you to know, that I am happy for you”

I’m not quite sure why I haven’t got around to reviewing the original Broadway cast recording of Hadestown since I listen to it at least once a week, such is the enduring strength of Anaïs Mitchell’s glorious score. I loved the show so much at the National, that I’d already booked to go and see it again before I got home that evening, and getting to dive deep into this recording is about as close as I’ll get to seeing it again (I doubt it’ll return here any time soon although the West End is crying out for its inventiveness).

Those of us who loved the show in London are blessed that the Broadway transfer retained its key cast. So the intense vitality of Amber Gray, the easy swing of André De Shields, the indie-pop sweetness of Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada and the gravelly hotness of Patrick Page remain intact. And those tunes! The plaintive cries of ‘Wait for Me’, the slinkiness of ‘When the Chips Are Down’, the incredible prescience of ‘Why We Build The Wall’, the sheer glee of ‘Way Down Hadestown’, it is a winner from start to finish for me.

Another cast recording designed for me to fall in love with is Jagged Little Pill, having long been a fan of Alanis Morissette. Only a couple of months old on Broadway, the show uses a wider swathe of Morissette’s songbook than just the multi-million-selling album of the title, but weaves them into an original story by Diablo Cody. So it is a little difficult to assess the record as it fully relates to the show, only so much of the story can be inferred from it but as a piece of recorded music, I have to say I am a big fan, especially of Tom Kitt’s orchestrations.    

Photo © Evgenia Eliseeva

Some of my highlights are Antonio Cipriano, Celia Rose Gooding and Lauren Patton elevating the elegiac ‘That I Would Be Good’ to Broadway gold, intertwining vocal lines until a glorious belting section, Elizabeth Stanley and Kathryn Gallagher lead the company in a fabulously dramatic reinterpretation of ‘Uninvited’,  and Lauren Patton does great work with the iconic ‘You Oughta Know’. Haunting new track ‘Predator’ is heartbreakingly good too, and it is interesting to see how many cast members get to lead songs – I can’t wait for it to arrive in London so I can see for myself.

And last but not least for this post, is the 2019 Broadway cast recording of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! which really serves to cast an entirely new slant on this golden age classic. Damon Daunno’s orchestrations and Daniel Kluger and Nathan Koci’s vocal arrangements completely relocate the score into the heart of Americana, using stringed instruments of all kinds to strip back and reassemble these songs to give them a genuinely new lease of life.

Photo © Little Fang Photo

So its earthier, sexier and frankly more interesting than you might ever expect a recording of Oklahoma! could be. Daunno’s Curly is almost indecently yearning on the likes of ‘Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin” and ‘The Surrey With A Fringe On Top’, Rebecca Naomi Jones’ Laurie responds in kind on ‘Out Of My Dreams’ and together, they make the title of ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ redundant. Ali Stroker’s Ado Annie and Patrick Vaill’s Jud also impress, making this three out of three for top recommendations – all worthy potential winners of Curtain Up’s Best American Cast Recording.


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