Not every Broadway musical is a hit. But even shows that close early often contain great songs. Fortunately, we have some new CDs that give us the opportunity to hear the music and judge for ourselves.
LYSISTRATA JONES never really found a niche on Broadway. It closed in January, 2012, after 34 previews and 30 performances. But it’s become something of a cult favorite. The website is still popular, and there are enough fans to have warranted reunion concerts. Plus, the show was nominated for a Tony in the category of “Outstanding Book, Musical.” At any rate, the songs are peppy, and the cast is enthusiastic. Time to judge for yourself.
Bonnie & Clyde also met a speedy demise. The show had a great pedigree, with music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black. It began at the La Jolla Playhouse, and continued on to the Asolo Rep in Sarasota. After opening to mostly lackluster reviews on December 1, 2011, it closed on December 30th. Lost in the mix were the fine cast performances, especially by rising star Laura Osnes as Bonnie; and as Clyde, there’s Jeremy Jordan, who is currently taking The Great White Way by storm in “Newsies.” Wildhorn has explained that the musical has “A non-traditional score, combining rockabilly, blues, and gospel music.”
It’s not at all uncommon for Broadway musicals, when the original stars leave, to bring in big name performers to attract the audience. This practice is what made possible NICK JONAS- SONGS FROM HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. Jonas succeeded “Glee’s” Darren Criss, who took over for Daniel Radcliffe in the leading role. The original production opened in 1961, ran for 1,417 performances, won 7 Tonys and in 1962, the Pulitzer Prize. This latest incarnation opened March 27, 2011, and ran for 473 performances.
TITANIC: AN EPIC MUSICAL VOYAGE is a unique compilation of music composed for the movies, TV and theater. It went on sale on April 10, 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s tragic voyage. Some songs will be familiar others will be new to the listener. In the words of producer Ford A. Thaxton, “This is a very different take on it. We wanted to do something that would have a timeless quality to it.”
There’s also a CD now available from the PBS star of the 25th anniversary concert of “The Phantom of the Opera.” RAMIN KARIMLOO- HUMAN HEART features “Music of the Night” from that show. Karimloo is unknown to most Americans, but he’s all the rage in Britain, assuring that his West End performances draw many faithful fans. An Iranian-born Canadian, Karimloo was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2011 for “Love Never Dies,” a continuation of the “Phantom” saga. Can Broadway and American stardom be far behind?
So, as the saying goes, be the first kid on your block to add these show CDs to your collection. You heard it here first.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. She is a voting member of Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association, and International Association of Theatre Critics. www.michalljeffers.com