newmoonstar: (Default)
The latest cast recording I've discovered and fallen in love with is Death Takes A Holiday. A magical, touching, romantic show, full of both joy and melancholy in turn, with a beautiful score by the wonderful Maury Yeston. And the cast is just an embarrasment of riches: Rebecca Luker, Michael Siberry, Jill Paice, Max von Essen, Don Stephenson, Matt Cavanaugh... beautiful voices all! And as Death himself, Kevin Earley, who I'd never heard of before, but wow! What a voice! Apparently he was the understudy who had to go on when the original lead got laryngitis (you wouldn't believe things like that actually happen in real life, but here it is!) and all I can say is, I don't think he'll ever be an understudy again! If he doesn't become a huge Broadway star after this, there's no justice in the world. My favorite songs on this brilliant recording full of lovely music are his; "Alive!" captures all the breathless exhuberance of Death, off work for a day at last, discovering the simple joys of being human. (I have to say that this track makes me get up and dance around like an idiot whenever I hear it! It's so great!) And "I Thought That I Could Live" is one of the best things I've heard on a cast album probably ever, a desperate, impassioned monologue as Death realizes what it is to be human and love, and faces the prospect of losing it. The music is stunning and Earley's performance is breathtaking.

My other favorites are "Finally To Know", a lovely, gentle trio for the young ladies of the house as they make up their minds to pursue true love; "Shimmy Like They Do In Paree", a fun, funny number as one of the ladies attempts to teach the disguised Death the latest 1920's dance craze; and "Alone Here With You", a haunting duet for Death (in the guise of Prince Sirki) and the beautiful young Grazia as they fall in love.

Also of note are "Losing Roberto" and "Roberto's Eyes", both about the death of Grazia's brother during the war, wrenchingly sung by Rebecca Luker and Matt Cavanaugh respectively. They're both amazing songs, but I find they're not ones I like to hear too frequently because they're so raw & heartbreaking. But they are absolutely neccessary to the show to keep it from being too frothy; this IS Death we're falling in love with. He's not evil, but he's not a tame sparkly teen vampire. This show deals with real emotions and intelligently explores universal themes in addition to being melodious, romantic, and just plain beautiful. A real treat from start to finish, I highly recommend it! :)
newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
Watched a DVD of the 1980 New York Shakespeare Festival production of The Pirates of Penzance, and it was totally great! The rather crappy picture quality didn't matter at all, the production was so fun and energetic that that's all you noticed, and quite honestly it's a miracle to have it at all! It was much better than the movie version of the same production, which I saw some of years back but didn't make it through because it bored me so much. What a difference an audience makes! The cast was having splendid fun hamming it up for them, and the audience was having fun watching them, and I was having fun watching it all too! The cast was wonderful: Patricia Routledge is awesome and I wish she'd been in more musicals; Linda Ronstadt can genuinely sing operetta, she's no pop star just faking it; and even Kevin Kline's pomposity works to advantage for the Pirate King, and he actually comes off as rather charming. The whole production was delightful; even though the sets and scenery were rather minimal, the little pirate ship that they occasionally rode around in was so cute, and since it was filmed on an outdoor stage, the summer breeze was always blowing through, and added a pleasant ambiance of realism to the seaside scenes when it ruffled the actors' hair and fluttered the ladies' dresses. All in all it was a lovely, funny, silly, sweet romp from beginning to end. (I just wish more stage productions would get filmed; I would consider it a huge shame to have missed this simply because I hadn't been born yet when it was originally staged!)

Okay, on to less cute territory: Jekyll & Hyde. I think maybe Love Never Dies has given me a taste for train-wreck musicals, because I never thought it would be any good, and I was pretty much right. But it's the only thing by Frank Wildhorn my library actually has, and since one hears tell of his work often (usually rather disparagingly) I was curious to judge for myself. The only thing of his I've heard is the uber-cheesy ballad "This Is the Moment" which is from this show, so I was prepared for the worst, but I'd heard the 1994 studio cast album is the best version, so perhaps a glimmer of hope? Not really. Jekyll & Hyde is just one of those stories that genuinely shouldn't be a musical. But even so, there must be a way to do it better than this.

Bad doesn't even begin to describe Jekyll & Hyde )

But it had a redeeming feature in the fine cast, at least )

I think I now need to go listen to The Music Man or She Loves Me or something, just so I can reassure myself that genuinely excellent musicals do still exist somewhere out there. (Or at least to fortify me through the next train-wreck musical I venture to listen to! Heehee!) ;D
newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
I guess it's lucky my car chose to break down in the middle of a heat wave, since it's too hot to leave the house anyway! So in the air-conditioning I stay, and it's given me a chance to listen to a lot of music and movies over the past week.

My musical theater kick still being in full force, I watched a DVD of the London production of the 2000 Kiss Me, Kate revival. Ugh, big mistake! SOOO bad! So boring I could barely keep awake, and really poorly cast. Trust me, you'll be glad you missed this! )

Also listened to the cast recording of Triumph of Love, which was really good. I knew the story from a movie version of the play that came out a few years ago, which I thought was a really charming little gem, but I have to say that this musical version that was made a few years prior to that movie, is actually even better. An 18th century French play about the adventures of a cross-dressing princess and the tangled web of broken hearts her deception causes may not seem like a sure-thing for a fun musical, but it really is! A wonderful show, with a fine score, that will engage your head and your heart! )

(And now I think I'm going to keel over, because I've eaten nothing but pizza and snickerdoodles for the past two days, and while it was fun at the time, I feel rather ill now! Must go back to eating healthy food today!!)
newmoonstar: (Love Never Dies)
Here we go, the plot of Love Never Dies. I would call it an analysis, but at this point it's more a catalogue of it's crimes! Read it and weep! Contains spoilers, obviously! )

I could probably write a whole book on what's wrong with this plot, and another book on how to try and fix it (futile as that would surely be!) but somehow, despite everything, I'm probably as attracted as I am horrified by this show. It doesn't work storywise, but the score is so richly emotional and beautiful, even the recitative is melodious and never just filler. This work in no way lives up the magical, fantastic spirit of the original (I don't want these characters taken down off their pedastals, thank you, I like them there!) but in tiny moments, in beautiful songs, you do occasionally catch little glimpses of the characters you love, and getting to go there again, however imperfectly, is pretty cool. Do I wish it was better? Yes. Do I wish it had never been written? Actually, no. Yes, I would rather have this score in a good show, but at the end of the day, I'd rather have it here than not at all. It may be ugly, but the music is beautiful, and you can't help but love that about it, which in a way is strangely fitting for a show about the Phantom, because you could say the same for him.
newmoonstar: (Love Never Dies)
Okay, despite many weeks of sewing projects coming and going, my Phantom kick has turned into a full-fledged musical theatre binge, and the Broadway Odyssey has resumed full force! So for now the sewing updates will have to wait while I review some cast recordings! For today, the second part of my analysis of Love Never Dies!

The more problematic songs and why I love/hate them. )

Well, that's it for the songs, but as for the plot itself... to be continued once again! It'll require a whole other post to tackle that!
newmoonstar: (Love Never Dies)
Well, here goes my attempt to sort out my thoughts on Love Never Dies into a somewhat neat and intelligible review! (Haha- we'll see if that actually happens!)

So, firstly, having sat with it for a couple of weeks, my overall feelings toward LND are somewhat different than they were upon my initial listening. Since then I've been re-playing my favorite songs almost non-stop, and I can actually say that it's a truly beautiful score that I honestly love. The initial shock of the more preposterous plot points and out-of-character characters made me rather resistant to loving any part of it, but I think I'm finally at that point where I can be whole-hearted in my embrace of it's good parts, even if I still hate other parts of it. Having seen the Australian production helps a little too, since some of the tweaks softened it's fail to less epic proportions!

The differences between the London and Melbourne productions )

But I still prefer the London leads, and can't help raving about them! )

...To be contined in the next post! Yes, I have VERY mixed feelings and a VERY complex love/hate relationship with this show, and I'm gonna need another day and some more time to get it all out coherently!
newmoonstar: (phantom of the opera)
Okay, I know I'm a few years late, but I finally listened to the cast recording of Love Never Dies, the infamous Phantom of the Opera sequel. I remember back before it opened I'd seen Sierra Boggess sing the title song on some TV show, and I remember being seriously unimpressed, and once the production actually appeared, the word among Phantom fans was that it was terrible and to be avoided at all costs, so I shrugged and didn't give it a second thought. Until this January, when the 25th anniversary staging of PotO aired on PBS. Once I learned that the leads had also been in Love Never Dies, the curiosity was too strong! I knew it would be a train wreck, but like all good train wrecks, as much as you don't wanna look, you just HAVE TO!

An overview of the original London cast recording of Love Never Dies, not terribly in depth because I'm still reeling from it! Contains spoilers! )

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