Rodgers & Hammerstein Classics Reimagined On New Album ‘R&H Goes Pop!’

Craft Recordings and Concord Theatricals have announced the digital release of the R&H Goes Pop! album. Featuring contemporary takes on timeless Rodgers & Hammerstein classics, the album is now available for pre-sale and will be released on Friday, March 26.

R&H Goes Pop! features the brightest Broadway stars performing and honoring the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalog with unique and inventive takes, ranging from pop and rock to R&B and country. The 15-track album features reinterpreted takes on iconic songs from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s hit Broadway musicals. Continue reading “Rodgers & Hammerstein Classics Reimagined On New Album ‘R&H Goes Pop!’”

Album Review: Dan & Laura Curtis – Overture

“When the playbill’s gone and your ego’s died, how you gonna feel”

I’m of course naturally inclined towards composing duo Dan & Laura Curtis as the quote that is proudly blazoned across their website is one of mine. It came from my review of their collection Love on 42nd Street which was a pocket-sized treat which stands in real contrast to Overture – The Music of Daniel and Laura Curtis, which brings together well over 20 Broadway and West End stars to fill a double-album’s worth of new material.

And their grandly orchestral ambition (not for nothing is the album called Overture) is well realised here. Divided into two ‘acts’, the pair stretch their songwriting muscle over a range of genres and subject matters but they’re most comfortable, and effective, when turning their hand to stirring string-laden balladry. The simple elegance of Rachel John’s ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ epitomises this beautifully with its soaring grace, surely a cabaret standard in the making. Continue reading “Album Review: Dan & Laura Curtis – Overture”

Round-up of summer album reviews

To cover the holiday period, you may have noticed an album review or three – here’s a round-up of them, including my top ten.
Recommended titles
Close To You – Bacharach Reimagined (2016 Original London Cast Recording)
Hamilton (2015 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Kelli O’Hara – Always 
Leslie Odom Jr – Leslie Odom Jr 
Matt Doyle – Uncontrolled
Samantha Barks – Samantha Barks
Thérèse Raquin (2014 Original London Cast Recording)
The Last Five Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Scottsboro Boys (2014 Original London Cast Recording)
Waitress (Original Broadway Cast Recording)


And the rest!
Alison Jiear – Inspirational
Allegro (2009 First Complete Recording)
An American Victory (2016 Concept Album)
Annie (1995 London Studio Cast Recording)
Annie (2014 Film Cast)
Bad Girls (2007 Original London Cast)
Billy Porter – At The Corner of Broadway and Soul
Billy Porter – Billy’s Back On Broadway
Brian Stokes Mitchell – Simply Broadway
Bright Star (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Bring It On: The Musical (2012 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Caroline Sheen – Raise the Curtain 
Cheyenne Jackson – I’m Blue, Skies
Cheyenne Jackson – Renaissance
Cool Rider (Original Studio Recording)
Departure Lounge (Original London Cast Recording)
Elf the Musical (2015 Original London Cast Recording)
From Here To Eternity (2014 Live Cast Recording)
Funny Girl (2016 London Cast Recording)
Ghost The Musical (Original London Cast Recording)
In The Heights (2008 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Jane Krakowski – The Laziest Gal in Town
John Owen-Jones – Unmasked 
Kimberley Walsh – Centre Stage
Kinky Boots (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Kristin Chenoweth – Coming Home 
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (2014 Cast Recording)
Lord of the Rings (2008 Original London Cast Recording)
Louise Dearman – Here Comes The Sun 
Louise Dearman – You and I 
Love Birds (Original Edinburgh Cast Recording)
Mamma Mia (Original Cast Recording 1999)
Mrs Henderson Presents (Original London Cast Recording)
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
Oliver Tompsett –Sentimental Heart
Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kerrigan and Lowdermilk
Out Of Context: The Songs Of Michael Patrick Walker
Patti LuPone – Far Away Places
Patti LuPone – Matters of the Heart
Prodigy (Original Cast Recording)
Promises, Promises (2010 New Broadway Cast Recording)
Rebecca Caine – Leading Ladies 
Renée Elise Goldsberry – Beautiful EP 
Richard Beadle – Songs 
Ruthie Henshall – The Ruthie Henshall Album
Sally Ann Triplett – Anything Goes
She Loves Me (1994 London Cast Recording)
She Loves Me (2016 Broadway Cast Recording)
Stephen Ward (2013 Original Cast Recording)
Shuffle Along, Or…
The Bodyguard – The Musical (World Premiere Cast Recording)
The Color Purple (2006 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
The Color Purple (2015 Broadway Revival Cast Recording)
The Fix (1997 Original London Cast)
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (2012 New Broadway Cast Recording)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012 Broadway Cast Recording)
Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt
Tony Yazbeck – The Floor Above Me
Tuck Everlasting (2016 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2011 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2015 Original London Cast Recording)
Xanadu (2007 Original Broadway Cast)

 

Album Review: Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk (2010)

“It not a love story, not a coming of age
It’s not the kind of thing you put into a play.”

Good song-writing is good song-writing but it certainly helps if you have stellar interpreters of songs on hand to deliver what you’ve composed. And so it is on Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk which finds the likes of Kelli O’Hara mourning the death of a relationship on the pragmatic ‘Not a Love Story’ and Natalie Weiss on the equally bruised ‘How To Return Home’, both performers fully inhabit their characters within these songs and you’re instantly given to a sense of excitement at what a Kerrigan/Lowdermilk musical might sound like.

They’re a US musical theatre writing team who, like so many others, are patiently waiting for their big break. Shows such as Henry & Mudge and The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown have raised their profile and in the latter case, show real promise from the tracks included here in their relaxed pop sensibility that Waitress is currently working so well. Vienna Teng’s delicate piano balled ‘Say The Word’ is a gorgeous opener to the collection and the way its tentative romantic inclinations are met with Michael Arden’s ‘Run Away With Me’, its quiet emotion slowly building in confidence, whets the appetite beautifully. Continue reading “Album Review: Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk (2010)”

Album Review: Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt (2011)

“If you wanted me to, I’d take a trip to the sticks, and tie her up in the back of a van”

As you can see from the release date, Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt isn’t a particularly new album but it is one that I’ve had waiting on my ‘to listen’ list for a long time. Produced by Sh-K-Boom, Gealt is a New York composer who has been bubbling under for a while now and as is the way of these things, opted to put out his debut album by calling some of his nearest and dearest Broadway pals to showcase his work.

And on this evidence it’s quite the body of work. Gealt feels like a natural song-writer, connecting emotion effortlessly to his music which puts him in good stead for the world of musical theatre and there are some compelling moments here. Adam Chanler-Berat’s ‘I Won’t Have to Anymore’ is a gorgeously moving tale of a young gay lad escaping an abusive home, Bridie Carroll’s ‘Expectations of a Man’ ought to be a lesbian anthem by now and Lauren Kennedy’s wry ‘Alex…You’re Fine!’ works well. Continue reading “Album Review: Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt (2011)”

Album Review: Matt Doyle – Uncontrolled

“Do you ever wonder who you’re losing it for”

No word of a lie, the promotional pictures (see below…) that accompanied Matt Doyle’s Uncontrolled album had no impact on my decision to review the album. I’d already tumbled hard for him in Private Romeo, so there. And as he starts off with a tenderly lovely version of Broadway standard ‘You Made Me Love You’, you might think that you’re in for a familiar journey through a collection of musical theatre hits.

You’re soon disabused of that notion with ‘Moment’, a track co-written by Doyle with Joel Huemann which aims squarely for the chart with its stadium-ready chorus and woo-ooo’s and the album’s predominantly filled with original material. He’s unafraid of a personal lyric or three, ‘When I Let You Go’ and ‘8’ feel particularly heartfelt here, and there’s also a sense of Doyle exploring the limits of his song-writing with his collaborators – ‘Fall For Me’ aims for a 50-ish vibe which is highly appealing and ‘Love Uncontrolled’ finds him in somewhere in the soulful part of the 70s.

Continue reading “Album Review: Matt Doyle – Uncontrolled”

DVD Review: Private Romeo

“Proud can I never be of what I hate”

What first attracted me to a gay remake of Romeo and Juliet set in a military academy I cannot tell you but shallowness for shirtless soldiers aside, Alan Brown’s Private Romeo is a fascinating and adventurous take on Shakespeare. Eight military cadets are left unsupervised for four days as everyone else departs on some land navigation exercise or other, with the strict instruction to follow their usual campus routine. In English Lit though, their study of Romeo and Juliet takes on a new practical dimension as it inspires a real romance between leads Sam and Glenn.

Writer/director Alan Brown thus blends classroom readings with real-life re-enactments as the boys fall under the spell of Shakespeare – the vast majority of the dialogue is the written text – but also mixes in contemporary concepts as lipsyncs to YouTube videos to pull us further away from orthodoxy. The Shakespearean narrative is necessarily compressed and considerably adapted, which takes a little getting used to, but the result is a heady mixture of exuberance and exhilaration which, whilst it doesn’t always quite come off, still results in the kind of admirable experimental quality that is most appealing.  Continue reading “DVD Review: Private Romeo”

Album Review: Out Of Our Heads – The Music of Kooman and Dimond

“I’m not like the other girls in the show”  

Albums that are made up of selections from the catalogue of musical theatre writers, as opposed to straight soundtracks, tend to fit into a generally similar format, as my experience of listening to quite a few this year has borne out. And by and large, I can tell whether I am going to like it the album on the strength of the comedy song – for there is always a comedy song – and sure enough, when it came to Out Of Our Heads – The Music of Kooman and Dimond (alt iTunes link here), so this rule came to pass. Pleasingly enough, that song – Random Black Girl – comes in as the second track and is an absolute corker both musically tight and lyrically hilarious and thus overall, I really enjoyed the album.

Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond are something of an up and coming pair of US musical theatre writers with a handful of shows to their names – Golden Gate, Dani Girl and Homemade Fusion – that have been bubbling under whilst they build up their name and reputation. They seem on the right track as this CD, a selection of their songs, features a line-up of exciting Broadway, including at least one name that should be familiar to UK theatre-goers in the fabulous (baby) Patina Miller who headed up Sister Act here and is reprising the role back over the ocean. Continue reading “Album Review: Out Of Our Heads – The Music of Kooman and Dimond”