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Bonnie  Clyde orig Cast Album


Bonnie & Clyde


Original Cast Recording

Broadway Records

Released April 2012


Some critics have not always taken well to Frank Wildhorn's material. He hasn't had it easy with some elitist/traditionalist Broadway prophets who might be less enthusiastic about many of his pop-rooted songs. Cole Porter he ain't.

Well, this critic has always liked his work and my digital and listening devices have gotten a lot of mileage out of Mr. Wildhorn's songs. His tunes have struck the right chord with the public as well judging by the many fan sites he has. Add Bonny & Clyde to that list. Since 1995 and that Jekyll and Hyde Complete Works was released, I've been rather hooked on this composer's songs. Yes, I am a traditionalist as well. But I also totally enjoy the contemporary flavor he imbues with such flair.. After all, let's face it, the golden age of great musicals is dead! We have to deal with what and who we have on the boards today. I mean, Green Day on Broadway in a sell-out show? Sondheim has earned his revered status with sophisticated lyrics and very complex melodies that are quite brilliant if not always “commercial.” Kander and Ebb have earned their own legend as has Jerry Herman. The list goes on. The debates will go on. But back to Frank Wildhorn – and Bonnie & Clyde.

Somewhere in that mix of today's greats is Frank Wildhorn whose shows have enjoyed considerable success in one of the most competitive milieus in all of Show business – Broadway. Agree of disagree, Wildhorn has earned his stripes and is here to stay. For instance, is there anyone who doesn't know “This Is the Moment?” And, of course, he has played a huge part in the career of ex-wife Linda Eder, who remains one of today's most glorious voices and is constantly compared to Streisand.

What I like most about Frank Wildhorn is that he beats and pounds a different drum – his own. And, usually, his scores invite listening to over and over. Welcome Bonnie & Clyde.

This is a more mature and deceivingly complex score than in the past. Wildhorn manages to capture the melancholic, heartfelt expressionism of the ravaged  depression era. And, he wraps it all in a rockabilly sound that percolates with the needed yearning sounds of the day. All the while, the listener never forgets that this is Broadway. The line is fine between rockabilly and musical theatre. And, Wildhorn treads it with finesse. Throughout this recording, the madness and ragings of the main characters are all laid bare. The listener is easily swept away.

There are some terrific highlights including Clyde's Raise A little Hell, perfectly performed by Jeremy Jordan. Blanche/Buck's you're Goin' Back To Jail, Bonnie and the couples This World Will Remember Us all stand out as well written songs worthy of a longer life. Their duet on Picture Show is also a real winner.

All through the show, the score fuses this country/western feel with a bit of gospel and blues. Such genres were all prevalent in the south in those days. Don Black's lyrics fluidly blend the songs and the time period with exceptional style.

Jeremy Jordan as Clyde, whose star is rapidly rising with him currently starring in Newsies and as he becomes a regular on the NBC television hit “Smash” in the fall, is nothing less than excellent here in his breakout role. He was a perfect choice. Another good choice is Laura Osnes as Bonnie. Her reading of How 'Bout a Dance? will break your heart. She is already climbing fast and has gained the respect of the industry. Melissa van der Schyff (Blanche,) Clybourne Elder (Buck,) Michael Lanning (the preacher) and Louis Hobson as the sheriff have great turns and are well cast and excel in their respective roles here.

A 23 page booklet comes with the album filled with great pictures of the era that outlines the story of Bonnie and Clyde as well as the lyrics.

Evita CD 2

This is a very important album for collectors. For starters, this show is overflowing with passion and tragedy as told through Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's dazzling score that includes: Don't Cry For Me Argentina, Another Suitcase, Another Town, High Flying Adored and You Must Love Me.

The revival of this production of Evita has been wrought with controversy since the very first announcement hit. To some, the show is either an iconic masterpiece or dismissed as inaccurate fodder - depending on whose opinion you ask. It is all based on actual happenings. But it has never been true to historical fact. The songs were originally released in 1976 by the composers as a concept album after years of research. The play leaves out some  important facts, such as the enactment of women's suffrage in Argentina under Perón in 1947, and the founding of the first feminist political party in Argentina. However, the movie version (with a miscast Madonna) does show this with images.

 Having seen this production soon after its opening, this observer liked it very much. I also saw the original. This is the finest staged production of the work to date. However, the whirl of controversy mainly centers around comparing Broadway legend Patti LuPone to respected and highly lauded Argentinean actress Elena Roger in the title role. Ms. LuPone, of course, will always be remembered as the fiery star who originated the role of Eva Perón in the original production on Broadway in 1979. She received many accolades and awards for her thrilling performance - including a Tony. The disagreements continue among some critics and a sometimes unforgiving theatre crowd. Just for the record, I couldn't take Madonna's inept performance in the movie version seriously and didn't even see the entire film after chalking it up to a waste of money and makeup.

 On this 2-CD set, on Masterworks Broadway, Elena Roger sings with the requisite authority and passion needed to convey the character and songs in the show. In person, after a somewhat reserved start, Roger got better as the show progressed until one realized the degree of greatness she was bringing to her interpretation of what is, arguably, one of the most demanding roles in musical theatre. Vocally, she is a strong singer in this demanding role and capable of emoting great expression. She is very credible as Perón. Obviously, much of this has to do with her own Argentinean lineage. Albeit, she is, at times, quite difficult to understand due to her heavy accent. For the record, LuPone 's somewhat sloppy American diction and Elaine Paige's overly proper British pronunciation of the Spanish-inflected role puts Roger at the top of the pack. Don't Cry For Me Argentina is well worth the price of the album and is better than her live performance. She is easier to understand with this in spite of the accent.

Hence, without deconstructing other interpretations, Roger is simply more convincing linguistically and therefore better. The lady shows a certain eminence in her legato passages when she emotes vocally and is sure to have a splendid career in musical theatre. Michael Cerveris, as always, is rock solid in his role as Juan Perón (and, hopefully, will be given the chance to create a role to make him the star he is meant to be.)

From the start, the ticket-selling star appeal of the show has been Latin pop-star Ricky Martin. While out of his usual element, he serves the role nicely, if less authoritative than others, and is also better on the recording turning in a professional performance that is well captured here. His reading of Che' is surely not in the same league as Mandy Patinkin, yet he still does a respectable job bringing his own spin to the character. Some writers have preferred his talented understudy Max von Essen's more vocally fluid performance over Martin's when he has subbed for him. This show seems laden with comparisons .

Rachel Potter effectively plays the role of the Misress. The rest of the cast shines throughout deserving considerable credit for giving one hundred percent. The show is directed by Tony and Olivier-Award winning Director Michael Grandage and choreographed by Rob Ashford.

I'm giving this 2012 version three stars (out of five) because, while never a fan of the bias and sexism contained in the story line, I am now a fan of Elena Roger's luminous representation. 

Masterworks Broadway is a label of Sony Masterworks. Www.masterworksbroadway.com

 

  Once is a cause to kick up one's heels. It is the celebrated new Broadway show based on the Academy Award-winning film that transferred from off-Broadway to Broadway.

 This album of the show includes the terrific songs written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová for the highly acclaimed film of the same name. The score also features the Oscar-winning hit Falling Slowly, as well as two new songs, Abandoned in Bandon and a Czech folk song, Ej Pada Pada Rosicka. One of the unique elements of this compelling musical is that the 13-member cast of the show act, sing and play all of the instruments; there is no orchestra or separate band. This is only part of what makes it unique – and quite special.

 An interesting aspect to this original cast album is that it was produced allowing such talented actors/musicians to record the music in the same style and environment as their stage show. This recording process not only further showcases the thrilling new orchestrations by Martin Lowe, but also captures the live essence of the exceptional ensemble.

 This listener has not seen the movie or the on of off-Broadway productions (yet.) I happen to like good singers singing good songs. That's all it takes to fall in love with this sweet album. The voices are varied. The honesty is not. It all comes from the heart.

 While some of the performers are exceptional musical theatre professionals, many retain their homespun, indie roots. It's not everyday that actors and singers play their own instruments in a Broadway show. To use a forgotten word, they are similar to buskers; which means they are similar to groups or individuals who would make money from tips by entertaining in public places such as the queues in front of a theatre (this was more common in Britain decades ago.) There are a lot of jubilant moments here such as the aforementioned Abandoned In Bandon which is an instrumental back and forth number based on The North Strand, a lively number that opens the show. Too, El Pada Pada Rosicka is also a lot of fun. When the whole ensemble harmoniously convenes, as on Falling Slowly or the Gold reprise, it is so engaging, listeners will want to be part of the musical happenings.

 To be honest, the music may night suit everyone's taste. Hansard and his group The Frames used to open for Bob Dylan is his early days. That influence shows in more than one spot. Overall, the music comes from a place of natural sincerity by a couple of songwriters who care deeply about their art. They were a hands-on team in the production. This little factor and the talented team all make for a joyful noise on Broadway in a job that is very well done. And, it's all caught on this disc that is well worth having.

2011 CD Release
Arwin Productions

DorisDayCD

Could it be magic? Doris Day is back (did she ever leave?)

If you're a connoisseur of good singers and great songs, Doris Day plays a prominent role in your collection as well as your heart. And, if you like sentiment and just plain schmaltz, this disc is your baby. My Heart contains 13 songs, most of which have never been heard before.

Released in America in December, 2011, this CD packs an emotional wallop for any Doris Day fan and her brand of sweet, sentimental magic. The legendary actress/singer has long nestled herself in the hills of Carmel, California and tends to her animal rescue causes and very private life by choice. She has not appeared publicly in many years. And, she's rejected offers to be feted by the Kennedy Center Honors and the Academy Awards more than once. So this “new” album, released with her guidance and help in 2011 in the United Kingdom, is an important piece of musical history. Grammy winner Doris Day's personalized phrasing skills are flawless in tandem with her supple alto that melts hearts. Her natural diction, breath control and the heart she exudes, makes the listener feel she is singing directly to them. Greatness like Doris Day's may not pass this way again.

As mentioned, Ms. Day had a hands-on role in the album along with her late son Terry Melcher. There are six brand new songs never before released by Day.

Most of it was cut in the 1980s and never released - until now. Ms. Day's late son, Terry Melcher, a very respected music producer (most famous for his work with The Byrds and other pop groups of the 1960s and 70s,) nudged her back to the studio under his guidance at that time. Consequently, six of the cuts on the album resulted from those sessions. She actually played a few of the rough teaser cuts during the eighties on her own television show called “Doris Day's Best Friends.” However, some were incomplete in terms of mixing and mastering. This all changed when multi-platinum selling, Grammy winning British producer Ted Carfrae gathered some musicians together with additional orchestrations and completed the job. The result is My Heart, released in 2011. It is Doris Day's first completed original album release in seventeen years. Included here are also studio cuts lifted from her 1970s American television specials as well as another trio of gems taken from the repository at Columbia. She personally hand-picked each cut based on her own sentiment. The album is lovingly dedicated to Terry Melcher who also sings a heartfelt original ballad called Happy Endings.

DorisDayanddog

This all shot to #9 on the UK album charts after its release in September 2011.. As a result of this, Doris Day immediately became the oldest singer in UK chart history to have a Top 10 hit with an album of new material. At first, the CD was only available in Britain. However, due to unprecedented demand, it soon was released in the USA through Day's own label, Arwin Productions. And, she even added a brand new track for US audiences called Stewball; a terrific duet with her son.

The disc overflows with highlights. A surprise, and one of the album's finest cuts, is her moving version of Joe Cocker's You Are So Beautiful. Here, she brings new meaning to this classic and it's a heart breaker. Other special moments from this great singer that will have listeners pressing the repeat button a lot come with a definitive My Buddy from her film, I'll See You In My Dreams and the album's riveting title cut, My Heart and an wistful, introspective, The Way I Dreamed It that is perfect for her warmhearted delivery. Both cuts are penned by Mr. Melcher.

Other, newer highlights include, a spirited Heaven Tonight, her take on the the Lovin Spoonful's Daydream, the Beach Boy's Disney Girls. Hurry It's Lovely Up Here from the Broadway musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is a gem.

My Heart will please Ms, Day's legions of fans and should clearly define a wonderful introduction to anyone not familiar with the scope of her brilliant recording career. Ultimately, its a masterpiece, thanks to Mr. Carfrae, and reminds us how much this beloved singer is missed. My Heart is a must for any collector of great music or anyone who misses the greatness of Doris Day who remains an undisputed American treasure.

Follies

PS Classics

 

For anyone unfamiliar with Sondheim's legendary war horse "Follies," it is a show about aging showgirls and their spouses trenchant with memories of what might have been. They all gather for a reunion at the theater that brought them together on the night before the relic is torn down. The story is loosely one of nostalgia, lost dreams, survival and roads not taken. It is a pastiche of melancholia with some camp. Mostly, it makes a statement about survival. This cast album of the original Broadway revival on PS Classics was released in stores on November 29, 2011.

This production of Follies first played The Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D C from May 7, 2011 until June 19, 2011. Due to its great success, it transferred to Broadway and opened at the Marquis Theatre on September 12, 2011. Directed by Eric Schaeffer with choreography by Warren Carlyle, Follies features a cast of 41 that includes stars like, Tony winner Bernadette Peters as Sally Durant Plummer, four-time Tony nominee Jan Maxwell as Phyliss Rogers Stone, two-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein as Buddy Plummer, three-time Tony nominee Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone and Olivier Award winner and five-time nominee Elaine Paige as Carlotta Campion. Music director James Moore conducts the 28-piece orchestra using Jonathan Tunick's original orchestrations for the production.

The original production of Follies opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City on April 4, 1971. It received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical and seven Tony Awards – including Best Score. Several well publicized productions have been mounted over the years including a stellar cast event that was recorded on disc and DVD of Follies In Concert at Lincoln Center in 1981 as well as an acclaimed production at Paper Mill Playhouse in 1998. The show is moving on to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles for a limited run from May 3 through June 9, 2012 with Victoria Clarke replacing Bernadette Peters in the role of Sally Durant Plummer.

It should be noted that many of the songs have become staples of Broadway showcases and many singers' songbooks. However, this is a show that should be seen. It is more effective visually than it is on any disc. Above all, it should be seen for optimum effect. This is mainly due to the fine acting by the main characters and the terrific ensemble. That, and the the fact that the music often serves as a subtext to the action and the emotions unfolding. That aside, PS classics has turned out an excellent, high quality recording under the helm of producer Tommy Krasker.

The main characters are the two unhappily married couples that mold the core of the storyline. If they can't carry their considerable heft , the show falls flat. No worries here, They positively radiate on this recording. Jan Maxwell excels notably in Could I Leave You? She begins with abundant sweetness and crescendos to a shattering resentment that climaxes in a guttural rage. Bernadette Peters is intriguing as the deeply unhappy housewife on the verge of a breakdown. Her Sally is uneven but hits the mark nore often than not. Her Losing My Mind is somewhat bridled on the disc. However, when performing live, she was shattering. Here, she is heartbreaking, yet with less profundity than in her live performance.

The men are exceptional. Ron Raines' lush baritone is used with authority and grace, He is able to generate many emotions that serve his character to perfection. Danny Burstein almost steals the show with his broad interpretation of Buddy that is electric on many levels. His musicality is flawless and his acting conveys a natural self-loathing that others have often missed as he also fuses loneliness and a hopeless love for his wife, who is still in love with someone else. His humanity sells his character in a way that is unforgettable.

Other roles like Terri White's bravura turn on Who's That Woman? is extremely well-crafted as she simply  creates a force of nature to be reckoned with that has the ladies' attempting to recreate yesterday's dance routines only to fade into the ghosts of who they once were by their younger alter-egos. As noted earlier, referring to the visuals of this show; this is particularly one of those numbers that needs to be seen to be fully effective. Elaine Paige's heartfelt I'm Still Here is totally absorbing and filled with the depth only a qualified veteran could bring to the stage with her. Her solo is stunningly captured here. Retired opera diva Rosalind Elias, at 82, is poignant and tender on One More Kiss sung with a remarkable technique that rivets. Jane Houdyshell brings warmth and heft to a gutsy Broadway Baby.

It is insightful on the part of Mr. Krasker that he cleverly includes much of the lead-in dialogue making it possible for the listener to understand the context of the the songs. These tracks can also be skipped.

 PS Classics continues to celebrate the heritage of Broadway and the American popular song. Follies is one of the examples.

Tony-B-CD

Produced by Phil Ramone, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Tony Bennett, at 85, hang glides through this collection of great songs like an eagle with wings spread in flight. While it's not quite a perfect sail, it  all comes close. And, who in the pop music field today can touch a legend who has been before the public for almost 50 years and still going strong? Comparisons are rendered moot. The multi-award Grammy winner is solid gold.

Read more: Tony Bennett Duets ll (Columbia)

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