It’s been admittedly slow on Chicago Theatre Addict for the past few weeks. However, starting today, the theatre machine is in full-force. See the [CTA] Show Tracker to the left for what’s in store. Want to add your show to the list? Just contact me, and I’ll do my best to fit it in.
Anyway. I’m kind of a musical freak. And Zev Valancy over at On Chicago Theatre got me thinking about the magic of revisiting favorite cast recordings. If I were to lose my iPod on some Chicago street corner (or, heaven forbid, have it stolen), I bet the recipient would be like, “WTF is this sh*t?” There are a lot of showtunes jammed in that device. I’m fairly new to the iPod culture, so the concept of having nearly my entire musical library on hand in one portable device is pretty huge for me. And it’s allowed me to revisit some classic cast recordings I haven’t listened to in years.
So, I thought I’d share some of my favorites. Lucky you!
Also: how am I defining “favorite?” Well, for me, at this moment, it’s a cast recording that:
- I constantly find myself turning to
- Makes me happy and/or engaged
- Takes my mind off things
- Makes the morning commute fly by
So take that in consideration with this list (which I’m sure will change tomorrow):
1) Anything Goes: 1987 Lincoln Center revival – Patti LuPone and Howard McGillin are gold in this recording. She’s 110% sass and brass, and he’s pure class with a creamy tenor. Just listen to her blare in “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” or his crooning of “All Through the Night.” Dynamite and dreamy, all in one.
2) Sweeney Todd: Original Broadway Cast – You just can’t compare this recording with any others on the market. While George Hearn is thrilling and explosive as Sweeney the 2002 New York Philharmonic concert recording, Len Cariou’s calm-crazy is infinitely more chilling. And no one can touch Lansbury’s Lovett. No one. And, hello? It’s Sondheim’s masterpiece. Side note: I’m still waiting for a decent recording of A Little Night Music, my favorite Sondheim score. All the ones I know of either don’t completely represent his score, or have tinny, reduced orchestrations. Someone get on that.
3) City of Angels: Original London Cast – Here’s one that might be unexpected for you showtune geeks. I love Cy Coleman’s snappy score, but I’m not a fan of the OBC recording. Maybe it’s because the London cast recording was my first exposure to this rarely-produced show, and we tend to show allegiance to our firsts, but I think the performances on the recording are just better all-around.
4) Crazy for You: Original Broadway Cast – Tap dancing, glimmering orchestrations by William D. Brohn, a fantastic Gershwin score. What’s not to love?
5) A New Brain – Unexpected, perhaps? If you haven’t checked out this recording yet, you should. William Finn’s quirky, semi-autobiographical musical is just what the doctor ordered on a dreary el ride home. It’s a score filled with great standalone numbers, and the cast in this recording is stellar (including a young Kristin Chenoweth in the ensemble). Norm Lewis’ “Sailing” makes the album.
Share your favorite cast recordings in the comments!