The Best !!!!!

September 16, 2010

Sondheim on Sondheim CD ImageI just got finished listening to the new cast album of Sondheim on Sondheim again.  Really, this is for my money the best album that’s been released in a long while, and I can’t imagine anything topping it in the near future.

It features stellar performances by Barbara Cook (appearing at the Birchmere next month), Vanessa Williams, Euan Morton (currently in Chess at Signature), Leslie Kritzer (soon to appear at Arena).  There’s a balance of classic Sondheim material as well as unknown gems (like The Wedding Is Off, apparantly a previous version of Getting Married Today). 

Get and enjoy!

Leslie Kritzer Interview

March 6, 2009

Interesting interview with Leslie Kritzer in Playbill online.  And she speaks nicely about her experience doing Broadway Three Generations at the Kennedy Center.

However, they don’t answer the question I’ve been dying to know — Whatever happened to the planned recording of her breakthrough show, Leslie Kritzer is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches?

Broadway Bares 18

November 8, 2008

OK, some years are more fabulous than others.  Broadway Bares is a fundraising event for BC/EFA that presents theater professionals in an updated burlesque for a good cause.

I just got the DVD for this year’s edition, Wonderland.  And though it  is althogether pleasant, it doesn’t have the aura of fabulousness of previous versions, especially last year’s Myth Behavior featuring an opening number with the amazing Leslie Kritzer.

DVD ordering info.

A Charming Afternoon at the Kennedy Center

October 6, 2008

We finally managed to see Broadway: Three Generations at the Kennedy Center over the weekend.  The program put together tab versions of three musicals: Girl Crazy, Bye, Bye Birdie, and Side Show to represent an overview of the American musical theater.  In addition to the presence of performers with solid musical theater credits from both Broadway and DC, the show featured Shirley Jones as a narrator.

On the one hand, every single moment of the show was absolutely lovely.  The condensing of each piece was handled with grace, and the performances were never less than solid.  I found it especially nice, after so much work in cabaret, to see songs in a musical theater setting —  where story, costume, and character combine to support the writing.  For example, it was fascinating to see that in the script of Girl Crazy, the different verses of But Not For Me are sung by different characters.  (And this is the time to mention the terrific solo piano work on the song from friend-to-this-blog Mary Sugar!)  

To me, the most thrilling moments came from the dance numbers.  There really is something awe-inspiring about seeing a stage full of people move in precision in songs with a driving beat such as I Got Rhythm or I Got a Lot of Living to Do.  And it was oddly wonderful to see Brooks Ashmanskas, a guy with a little more heft than the usual dancer, move with such amazing style in Put on a Happy Face.

On the downside, although the performances were solid, there seemed to be a lack of star wattage in the evening.  Ashmanskas and Leslie Kritzer both in their leads in Bye, Bye Birdie and supporting roles in Girl Crazy brought energy, verve, and personality to their appearances.  But the rest of the performances felt a bit generic (other than recognizing Ned Eisenberg from his frequent appearances on Law and Order).  A day later, no one else left much of a residual impression.  As such, I applaud the wisdom of trucking in Mrs. Partridge as the narrator. (Now remind me, just what Broadway show was she notable for?)

And what bothered me most (and probably more than it bothered 99.5% of the audience including Ron) is the seeming randomness of the three musicals put together.  It feels like there was a dartboard in Michael Kaiser’s office, and that’s how they selected the material.  I really felt there was an opportunity missed to explore themes, styles, or to compare and contrast how materials is treated.

The show was mounted partly in celebration of the newly remodeled Eisenhower Theater.  With the new wood panelling in the theater, patrons do not have to avoid wearing red in fear of clashing with the walls.  However, patrons unwittingly wearing red jackets (especially with a black skirt or slacks) still risk being mistaken for an usher.

A Catered Affair

June 4, 2008

A Catered Affair (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Okay, this new show sounds like a musicalized episode of Whose Wedding is it Anyway?  It has Tom Wapt, Faith Prince, and Harvey Fierstein giving the sort of performances that you’d pretty much expect them to give.  Similarly, the John Bucchino score will work for Bucchino fans, but I doubt it will make many new ones.

There are two songs that I can see working very well in a cabaret situation.  One White Dress is a perfect number for a woman needing a charm song about getting married.  (Actually it would be really interesting to have Sondheim’s Getting Married Today or Coleman/Field’s I Love to Cry at Weddings follow in a set.)  Don’t Ever Stop Saying “I Love You” is a pleasant love duet.





1. Partners

2. Ralph and Me

3. Married

4. Women Chatter

5. No Fuss

6. Your Children s Happiness

7. Immediate Family

8. Our Only Daughter

9. Women Chatter 2

10. One White Dress

11. Vision

12. Don t Ever Stop Saying I Love You

13. I Stayed

14. Married (reprise)

15. Coney Island

16. Don t Ever Stop Saying I Love You (reprise)

17. Coney Island (reprise)