Catching-Up with Original Cast Recordings

Dogfight, Giant, Murder Ballad, Passion, Cinderella, Kinky Boots and Pippin

With the season over and the onslaught of ‘summer theatre festivals’ about to begin, now is an ideal time to catch-up with all the new, original cast recordings that have been piling up:

Dogfight

Dogfight

Dogfight – 2econd Stage’s sleeper hit has produced a gorgeous new cast recording that’s a showcase for its stars, the astonishing Lindsay Mendez and Derek Klena, as well as its composers.  Recently nominated for a Tony for their terrific A Christmas Story, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s score for Dogfight is a treasure trove of beautiful melodies and pungent lyrics for a show whose plot was as cruel as it was heartbreaking. (Ghostlight Records)

Giant

Giant

Giant – Though he bit off more than he could chew with his musical adaptation of Edna Ferber’s Giant at The Public, much of composer Michael John LaChiusa’s score is beautiful and well worth a second hearing.  On this lavish recording, LaChiusa’s soaring and tuneful melodies are in the expert hands of Brian d’Arcy James, Kate Baldwin, PJ Griffith, Katie Thompson, Michele Pawk and Bobby Steggert. (Ghostlight Records)

Murder Ballad

Murder Ballad

Murder Ballad – Even by ‘rock’ standards, Juliana Nash’s score for MTC’s Murder Ballad is a tepid affair.  But divorced from director Trip Cullman’s atmospheric production, which transferred to off-Broadway but closes July 21, the songs are a chore to sit through due to their sameness.  The good news is that the cast – Jon Ellison Conlee, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Karen Olivo and Will Swenson – give the music everything they’ve got.  It’s just not enough. (Yellow Sound Label)

Passion

Passion

Passion – This sumptuous, new recording of Classic Stage Company’s Passion gives Stephen Sondheim’s haunting (and underrated) score a superb treatment that theatre fans will find irresistible.  Lavishly packaged by PS Classics, this Passion is notable for preserving the Fosca of Judy Kuhn, the Giorgio of Ryan Silverman and the Clara of Rebecca Luker who stepped in for Melissa Errico who was unable to do the recording. (PS Classics)

Cinderella

Cinderella

Cinderella – The new cast recording of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella sounds terrific, even if the ‘filler’ material in its revised score sounds even thinner when divorced from the show’s gorgeous sets and costumes.  Luckily, Cinderella’s cast is first rate, and Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana, Vicky Clark, Greg Hildeth, Harriet Harris, Marla Mindelle and the hilarious Ann Harada are all in wonderful voice.  And don’t forget Cinderella’s 21-piece orchestra! (Ghostlight Records)

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots – Cyndi Lauper’s Tony-winning score for the delicious Kinky Boots just gets better and better upon repeated hearings.  Fantastically arranged and orchestrated by Stephen Oremus (who also won a Tony), Lauper’s catchy pop songs and haunting ballads are terrifically performed by Kinky Boots amazing cast, including Stark Sands, Annaleigh Ashford and the divine, Tony-winning Billy Porter as Lola!  It’s the cast recording of the summer!  (Broadway Masterworks)

Pippin

Pippin

Pippin – Purists will always prefer the 1972 cast recording (with the orchestrations of Ralph Burns), but the new revival CD of Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin has plenty of things to recommend it.  Chief among these is the soaring tenor of Matthew James Thomas as Pippin, and the wistful mezzo of Rachel Bay Jones as Catherine.  Similarly, Patina Miller, Terrence Mann and Andrea Martin all come across well, despite the fact ‘the circus’ is missing on CD.  (Ghostlight Records)

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