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Some showbiz shopping

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newsiesTime to look at a few new (and newish) show biz related products…

Mother’s Day has just gone, and now is the time when new music theatre and show biz items appear on the marketplace either in stores or on the internet to buy.

I guess the thinking behind show biz items appearing at this time of the year, is that mum wants to buy the latest musicals on CD or wants the odd classic movie she has always missed on DVD. Whereas Father’s Day tends to bring re releases of old war films and Clint Eastwood westerns (and the odd horror film),just in case you thought male and female stereotyping was a thing of the past!!

Regardless there is plenty of product about that many theatre related  fans will rejoice in buying:-

Newsies (Original Broadway Cast)

Newsies is the david and goliath story of recent Broadway history. After a year of big promising musicals crashing and burning at a rapid rate (read Leap of Faith, Bonnie and Clyde, the big reworked On a Clear Day with Harry Connick etc), Newsies has come out of nowhere to be the smash hit of the current Broadway season.

Based on a twenty-year-old Disney film of the same name, the family oriented musical about the newsboys of the 1890s taking on the big business men of New York by striking, was born from an idea of turning the movie script into a workable show that could easily be performed by schools, universities and amateurs. A production was thrown together for a short season at Paper Mill PLayhouse near New York and the audiences went wild, forcing Disney to take it into New York for a limited season only. The slight little musical now looks set to possibly win the Tony and run for many years on the great white way. As pointed out by many, it is a sort of cross between Oliver and Annie and will now no doubt find its place in show biz history with the same sort of success.

Most of the music comes from the songs written for the 1992 movie (which actually is quite good and is worth seeing, especially for the young Christian Bale’s star making performance). Although Alan Menken’s score has been augmented slightly for Broadway it is still quite surprising that an old movie score has won a Tony nomination for best original score for a musical. Regardless, there are some stand out hits in the show and the energy and enthusiasm from the young, mostly male, cast is captured effortlessly on the terrific cast album. Jeremy Jordan leads the show and his singing is terrific. Jordan opened the show at Paper Mill and then moved over to the flop Bonnie and Clyde, the failure of which has allowed him to lead the Broadway cast and his star making performance is very evident on his singing of the show’s big show stopper ‘Santa Fe’.

This is one we will no doubt eventually get in Australia, it has financial success written all over it as the staging is modest, in the meantime the cast album will give music theatre fans hours of pleasure. Other great songs include ‘Seize the Day’, ‘Carrying the Banner’, ‘King of New York’ and a few nice love duets written especially for the show.

Download the Album from iTunes here

Newsies (Original Broadway Soundtrack) – Newsies – Original Broadway Cast

http://youtu.be/fDepTi03QCU

Once (Original Broadway Cast)

There could not be a show further from Newsies than this other adaption of a movie for the Broadway stage. Based on the small budget indie film of the same title, Once is something of an alternative musical that seems to capture all audiences with its spirit, warm heart and a cast made entirely of musicians singing the charming and lyrical score, most of which was written for the movie but has been given a little more of a theatrical lift for this recording.

Fans of the movie may find the theatrics of the recording not as intimate as the movie soundtrack, but there is plenty here to enjoy. These are not big broadway show stoppers, but low key irish folk type songs. The most famous is the Oscar winning Falling Slowly which is given much exposure here, other charming songs include Say it to me Now, Gold, If You Want Me and the riveting a capella reprise of Gold, which finishes the album on a moving and joyous note.

The music may not be for all show biz fans, but its melancholic style leaves one longing to see the show. This is the other big contender for the best musical Tony Award this year.

Download the Album from iTunes here

Once (Original Broadway Cast Recording) – Various Artists

Sweeney Todd (2012 London Cast recording)

This revision of the Sondheim classic is flipping out everyone who sees it in London and the word is that it will be off to Broadway. To my mind there can never be too many revivals of this great theatrical masterwork and this new recording does great justice to the oft heard score. Michael Ball has re invented himself and his career as Sweeney, giving a much more working class interpretation here, Ball has lost weight and looks and sounds like a terrifying Todd and he is well matched by the always reliable Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett. There is nothing remarkably new about this recording, it is just a good solid reading of a great score and after the messy, indulgent version that was the soundtrack to the flawed Tim Burton movie of a couple of years ago with its non singers and mindless edits and changes, this makes a refreshing reminder of the genius of Sondheim and the show itself.

Download the Album from iTunes here

Sweeney Todd – The 2012 London Cast Album – Sweeney Todd – The 2012 London Cast

Matilda (Original London cast)

There is no need to be reminded that this is the “must see/must have” musical of the last few years. Written by the remarkable Australian Tim Minchin and based on the Roald Dahl classic book, this recording is an accurate capturing of this terrific new score from the show  that is already a sell out, multi Olivier award winning musical smash hit. It is well on its way to Broadway and the rest of the world (very soon, I hope, in Australia).

The score is refreshingly bizarre, it may seem at times there is perhaps a little too much dialogue on the opening tracks but it sets up the experience for a listening audience. There are a couple of gems – mostly those associated with the wonderfully dreadful character of Miss Trunchbull, brought superbly to life here by Bertie Cavel (Olivier Award winner). He is also given a recording of his funniest monologue which serves as a hilariously funny addition if you continue to listen at the end of the recording. Best songs include ‘When I Grow Up’, ‘Revolting Children’, ‘My House’ (destined to be a must for cabaret performers) and the brilliant and dazzling ‘The Smell of Rebellion’.

Download the Album from iTunes here

Matilda the Musical (Original Cast Recording) – Matilda the Musical Original Cast

Also…

Just a few quick words about a couple of DVD releases; Much has been written on this site about Love Never Dies - the unique filming of the Australian Cast. Everyone hopes this documenting of the whole show as performed so effectively by the 2011/12 Aussie cast will result in this local reworked version of what was a flop in London, to become a raging success in London and especially on Broadway. The filming is world class, if I had any little criticism it would be that the film makers seem to have gone out of their way to make an audience forget this is a stage show we are watching. The live audience only feature in the bows and there are only two moments when we even hear applause. Also, I wanted the camera to pull back in some of the big moments to help an audience at home get more of a feel of the epic nature of many of the big numbers. But this is still an interesting experiment, if only we could have more stage productions captured with this sort of attention.

I am thrilled that the 1967 film version of the musical Camelot has come finally to blu ray. There are not enough classic movie musicals given the full blu ray treatment (we only have two of the Rodgers and Hammerstein movies and hardly any of the MGM musical classics). Camelot was a movie that spent a lot of the time in shadows, mist and a fair degree of gloom. Yet when it comes out into the sunlight, the blu ray print is stunning. Richard Harris is still remarkably moving and majestic as King Arthur and a young vibrant Vanessa Redgrave a wonderful Guinevere. This is a musical that suffered a little from non singers performing all the central roles, but Redgrave is so wonderful and Harris is doing a role written for a speaking not singing actor, so it doesn’t matter much. Note Australian John Truscott’s great sets and be inspired by the literate script and the deeply moving finale. I am told the following movies will get the blu ray treatment before the end of the year (so keep your eyes peeled on appropriate websites):- Cabaret, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and maybe the R&H musical classics.

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Les has written 59 articles on AussieTheatre
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