Sunday, May 1, 2011



Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

In November 2010 David Yazbeck and Jeffrey Lanes new show opened at the Belasco directed by Bartlett Sher and featuring a dream cast with Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Laura Benanti, Danny Burstein and Broadway Icon Patti LuPone. It was met with mixed reviews and ended up closing a week earlier. Based on the delightful cast recording just released by Ghostlight is should have played longer but here's hoping that it will find success in regional productions.

I've seen the Pedro Almodovar's 1988 film however missed the musical live but on evidence from the recording the music is character driven, catchy with some lovely melody's thrown in. The performers all do excellent work here with notable turns from Sherie Renee Scott's on “Lovesick,” and “Mothers Day,” Patti LuPone gets the 60's inspired “Time Stood Still” and the jazz infused “Invisible” while as she did on the stage Laura Benanti stops the disc with “Model Behavior.” There are other pleasures on this recording such as Madrid is “My Mama,” “On the Verge,” “Tangled,” and the lovely “Shoes from Heaven.” This is defiantly a cast recording to purchase and would not surprise me enters into the group of shows that people will talk about years later.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Rhino Records)

Opening up this season to almost positive reviews revues is the new musical based on the hit film. The creators of Priscilla have decided instead of coming up with an original score to throw in a bunch disco hits and use them as semi character pieces. I'm sure they think their audience attention span lasts as long as one of their tricks. I don't understand why they feel like singing songs that usually have no emotional content in them not to mention most of them don't even have lyrics but these are supposed to be the advancing a plot. Oh wait, sorry that was my first mistake, I thought there was a plot in this show. It's not a bad to have the original Broadway Cast on record but I can't see why someone wouldn't go out and just program all these songs together on their system.

Sister Act The Musical Ghostlight Records)

Opening up last season in London to mixed reviews and then getting some tweak’s before it re-opened on Broadway with it's London Star American Patina Miller and a brand new cast for Broadway including Tony Award winner Victoria Clark. However this is a recording of the original London cast with no mention if they are in to record the Broadway cast it probably depends on how big a smash the Broadway production is. I'd like to say to the creators of Priscilla to please buy a ticket to “Sister Act” to see a show that uses a movie as it's adaptation and creates new original music that evokes the sounds of disco but is also able to advance the plot and oh I don't know the characters. From the fun disco inspired “Take Me to Heaven” and Fabulous, Baby,! The musical lessons and “Raise Your Voice” leading lady Patina Miller handles the score with easy and a wide vibrato and a husky sound. This is a star making role and she handles it with ease.

And now for the SOLO RECORDINGS

Paul Motondo "This Time Around"

How often does one get a second chance in life and if we get one would we do with it. Cabaret performer Paul Motondo explores this idea in his solo act which his first CD is based upon.

Paul's best numbers are the wistful “Anyone Can Whistle” which highlights his gorgeous unforced low notes and shows off a rich vibrato that some would kill for. His cover of a Steven Lutvak song called "The House That I Grew Up In" felt like this was a moment where the song, the performance, and the vocal fit together and was utter perfection. I also enjoyed his take on Michael Buble “Everything.” The only thing that I had small issues with, was I wish he had used a little more vocal power and coloring in his voice for something like “You Will Be My Music.” I can't wait for the next one.

Alice Ripley “Daily Practice – Volume 1

Helen Hayes & 2010 Tony Award winner Alice Ripley who is currently starting in the Tony & Pulitzer Prize Award winninf “Next to Normal” in Chicago released to what many of her fans though musical theater felt was a departure album called “Daily Practice - Volume 1” though she has put several alternative rocks CD's both as a soloist and with her band Ripley. On this recording she does all covers with just an acoustic guitar and while I assume she wants to strip down the arrangements to make it sound more heartfelt I think it majorly losses something in the driving force or yearning that a lot of these songs have. These are good versions of great songs and with a voice like hers if she had them with a few additional instruments this would be an explosive album. I do think she does a great job with “Message in a Bottle,” “You Oughta Know,” “Thunder Road,” The Flyer,” and “Everbody Hurts” as a warning to her Broadway fans she appears not to be using the chest belt sounds she's known for going with a whiskey soaked sound that's effective just different.

If your in Chicago Mrs. Ripley will be playing a one night one concert at Stage 773 information is located below:

Sutton Fustor An Evening With Sutton Foster – Live at the CafĂ© Carlyle’!

Who has had a road to Broadway that should one day make for an interesting something. She turned down a starring role in a National tour of Les Miserables to play a chorus member in a musical called “Thoroughly Modern Millie” Well a couple days before opening the leading lady left and Sutton stepped into the title role and won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Since then she has racked 4 Tony Nominations and out of 5 Nominations 4 of those are for roles that she created a feat almost unheard of today. This live disc features a lof songs that can be found on her “Wish” album which isn't a bad thing as I enjoyed that but it make you wonder why you have to buy an album where as you've already heard the artist do the same songs and especially an artist who's only released two solo discs. Of the newer stuff I liked the medley of roles she played, I enjoyed Show Off, I loved her Defying Gravity which also proved why she should never be allowed to play that role on stage. I also liked her Anyone Can Whistle/Being Alive I didn't for her “And I'm Telling You” because I felt like it was such a pale imitation instead of coming up with something fresh and new.

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