This trio of album reviews covers Singing You Home: Children’s Songs for Family Reunification, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018 Film Soundtrack) and Vanara the Musical
“Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores”
Regardless of your politics, Singing You Home: Children’s Songs for Family Reunification is a really rather lovely album of bilingual children’s songs. But in this day and age nothing is not political and the current US administration’s policy of child separation is a genuine atrocity that it is hard to know how to respond. Laura Benanti had the nous to conceive this project though and produced it with Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Lynn Pinto, and a whole host of the great and good of the American musical theatre. Thus this is more than just your usual set of lullabies – Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mandy Gonzalez crooning on the Mexican song ‘Cielito Lindo’, Audra McDonald shining on Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Singing You Home’, Kristin Chenoweth’s ‘Beautiful Dreamer’, well worth the investment for this uniquely exceptional cause. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Singing You Home / Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again / Vanara the Musical”
If female-fronted lawyer shows are your bag (and why wouldn’t they be!), the twin joys of The Split and The Good Fight have marvellous to behold
“Kill all the lawyers”
If I’m completely honest, Abi Morgan’s The Split did leave me a tad disappointed as it veered away from its legal beginnings to something considerably more soapy over its six episodes. The personal lives of the Defoe clan well and truly took over at the expense of any of the cases they were looking after and even if that family includes Nicola Walker, Annabel Scholey and Deborah Findlay, it’s still a bit of a shame that it ended up so schlocky. Continue reading “TV Review: The Split Series 1 / The Good Fight Series 2”
“I am not afraid
As everything I’ll ever need appears
his is how my world gets made”
A musical adaptation of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 film and led by a red-hot Phillipa Soo coming off her enormous success of Hamilton, Amélie felt like a safe bet for at least a half-decent run on the Great White Way. But underwhelming reviews crippled it and striking out on Tony nominations delivered the killer blow, meaning it closed at the Walter Kerr Theatre before even making it to its third month.
Fortunately, we were blessed with an Original Broadway Cast Recording, so those of us unable to see it can experience some of its pleasures. And it is undeniably pleasant, as befits so gently lovely a story as this. With music by Daniel Messé, lyrics by Messé and Nathan Tysen and a book by Craig Lucas, there’s little to take offence at, and you suspect that that is part of the problem. The gentleness that is such an integral part of the show and the score just ends up tending towards the bland in this volume. Continue reading “Album Review: Amélie (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”
“I know there must be love that’s yet to be”
Fun and games to be had with this surprisingly effective piece of music hall pastiche. Rupert Holmes’ 1985 musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood is less of a Dickens adaptation that one might initially expect, opting instead to use the source material of Dickens’ unfinished novel as a springboard into something daftly enjoyable, a meta-theatrical murder mystery event with a play-within-a-play and multiple endings which are determined by audience vote. This recording is taken from the 2012 Broadway revival which was mounted by Roundabout Theatre Company.
Holmes’ songwriting thus draws from a raft of old-school influences in harking back to a classic age. There’s a healthy dose of Victoriana in the music hall and a measure of pantomimic broadness mixed in with the Broadway-heavy musical language and it is an enjoyable cast recording to listen to even if you’re not exactly sure what it going on! For completeness, we get the eight possible endings, each with their own song, and this is just one of the aspects that makes this a more full recording than the original – others include the new Act II opener ‘An English Music Hall’ and the revised version of ‘Ceylon’ incorporating ‘A British Subject’, both strong additions.
And the recording is also blessed with a supremely talented ensemble cast, headed by the incomparable Chita Rivera whose Princess Puffer is a delight (‘The Wages of Sin’ her best number) and a dryly witty Jim Norton as The Chairman. I also enjoyed the performances of Andy Karl and Jessie Mueller as siblings Helena and Neville Landless, paving the way for their leading roles to come (in Groundhog Day
respectively). I opted not to see the last UK revival, at the Arts Theatre also in 2012 and on this evidence, I might have missed a trick there, so I’ll be sure to catch when it next hits a London stage.
“Thank you, madam. Please call again. Do call again, madam“
Those outside of Broadway were lucky enough to have the opportunity to see She Loves Me last month as it became the first show there to be livestreamed (here’s my review) but if you missed it, never fear as a cast recording has been released which captures much of what made it an absolute pleasure to watch and to listen to. Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s Fiddler on the Roof may be better known but I’d argue that Roundabout’s revival makes a strong case for this to be the better show.
Orchestrated beautifully by Larry Hochman and played expertly under Paul Gemignani’s musical direction, it’s hard to imagine the show ever having sounded this lovely and fresh. From the thrill of the overture through the entirety of the score which allows pretty much every character to have their moment in the limelight, She Loves Me has a deceptive simplicity that seem disposable but its old-fashioned charms are revealed in all the splendour here, delivered perfectly by an ace cast. Continue reading “Album Review: She Loves Me (2016 Broadway Cast Recording)”
“They all come here just for the mood”
It’s nice to know that you have good karma, sometimes at least, as I came very close to seeing She Loves Me on my last flying visit to Broadway, opting for Waitress instead at the last minute. So it was most gratifying to hear that She Loves Me was to become the first ever Broadway show to be live-streamed on BroadwayHD, following in the footsteps of the hugely successful NTLive enterprise (and that the show would be available for the following seven days on catch-up, making up for the time difference).
The merits (or otherwise) of live-streaming have long been debated and will likely continue to be so for years to come as circular arguments go round and round. But as long as you accept that no, a recording will never be as good as the live thing and yes, it is an amazing thing to have accessibility increased in this way, it seems to me that everyone is a winner, especially with a show on a limited engagement like She Loves Me, which closes at Studio 54 on 10th July. Speaking of which, you’ve only got until 7th July to catch it on BroadwayHD. Continue reading “Review: She Loves Me, Studio 54 via BroadwayHD”