A trio of cast recording reviews covers musicals Amélie The Musical, Cases and After You – each one a winner in its own way
“I have always thought I’d see the world”
True story, listening to the cast recording of Amélie The Musical for the first time last summer caused the biggest eruption of tears I’d had all pandemic long. It’s a show I’ve loved from the Watermill Theatre, to its UK tour and thence to The Other Palace, and none of its charm has been lost onto its move onto record here (it has been released on CD as of 1st April). Daniel Messé’s score and his lyrics with Nathan Tysen are charmant in the extreme, embracing the quirkiness of the central character but rooting her in a deep emotional truth of social awkwardness. Audrey Brisson was deservedly nominated for an Olivier and leads the ensemble beautifully, Chris Jared and Caolan McCarthy taking moments to shine too. And I swaer, if there’s another 79 seconds that is as achingly gorgeous as ‘How To Tell Time’, I will manger mon béret.
Cases is part of the COVID generation of shows that didn’t get their planned run, scheduled as it was to open at The Other Palace in April 2020. But you can’t keep a good show down and Dominic Powell’s new musical has returned with a studio cast recording which was released in February of this year. And in a show about the precariousness of careers in the arts (I mean, who can relate?!), Powell’s gift for stirring balladry is readily apparent, particularly in a stunning middle section. Bobbie Little and Waylon Jacobs impress on ‘Possession’ and ‘You’ respectively but just listen to the driving intensity of Maiya Quansah-Breed on ‘Heightened’ and best of all, Andrew Patrick-Walker’s impassioned rendition of ‘Let Your Garden Grow’.
After You managed to accomplish its West End debut at the Coliseum in October as part of the streamed concert offer there and lo and behold, an original studio recording has followed to help out those who didn’t round to booking. Alex Parker and Katie Lam’s two-hander is a little curious to listen to without reference to the album booklet – I’m not sure you’d ever figure out they’re on a cruise ship for example. But what you do get is the sense of the instant connection that seizes this pair and the emotional rush that takes over them both. Sung with real potency by Alexia Khadime and Bradley Jaden (such a joy to hear them both singing contemporary material), the piano and strings-laden score is beautifully romantic and entirely listenable at barely 30 minutes.