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Top Albums of 2003

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ALBUMS
Album Label Performer(s) Comments
Amour Sh-K-Boom Records Malcolm Gets, Melissa Errico, members of the original Broadway cast Amour (2002) is an English adaptation (by Jeremy Sams) of a French musical by Michel Legrand (music) and Didier Van Cauwelaert (libretto). Set in post -WW II France, the story concerns a timid civil servant, Dusoleil (Malcolm Gets), who is infatuated with Isabelle (Melissa Errico), the unhappy wife of a tyrannical judge (Lewis Cleale). One night during a blackout, Dusoleil suddenly develops the power to walk through walls and becomes a master criminal in hopes of attracting Isabelle's attention - with complicated results. Amour opened on October 20, 2002 at the Music Box Theatre and closed after only 31 previews and 17 performances. This recording was made six months later.
At Dawn in Rivendell Decca The Tolkien Ensemble The music for this release is composed by Hall and Caspar Reiff; lyrics are taken from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Christopher Lee appears as narrator and even sings (sort of) on one cut. Tolkien fans will definitely want to check this out. The songs are very much in an appropriately British folk vein and are true to the spirit of the novel.
Avenue Q RCA Victor Original Broadway cast Avenue Q is basically an adult send-up of Sesame Street with a cast of humans and Muppet-style puppets (without the approval or participation of Jim Henson's organization, of course) offering helpful advice to the struggling young folks trying to make a living and find love on Avenue Q. Avenue Q opened off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in March 2003, where it gained rave reviews, and was extended four times. It won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical, as well as a nomination for the 2003 Outer Critics Circle Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical award. The show began previews at the Golden Theatre on July 11th, 2003, with a July 31, 2003 opening; it's still running as this is written. In this song one of the puppets is homeless and tries to panhandle money from one of his neighbors. It turns into a little Sesame Street-style lesson in the benefits of giving.
The Carlyle Set Fynsworth Alley Christine Andreas and The Consummate Cats This disc features numbers by everyone from Duke Ellington to Mary Chapin Carpenter from a recent appearance by cabaret star Andreas at New York’s Café Carlyle.
Das Barbecü Fynsworth Alley Original cast Here’s the premise: Take Wagner’s four-part opera cycle Der Ring des Niebelungen and re-tell the story as a musical set in Texas with a five-person cast. (“I’m not making this up, you know”, as Anna Russell used to say.) The show was commissioned and first performed by Seattle Opera in 1995; music is by Scott Warrender, book and lyrics by Jim Luigs. This is (as far as I can tell) a re-release of the Varese Sarabande original.
Elegies Fynsworth Alley Original cast A cross between a song cycle and musical theatre, Elegies was written by William Finn as a tribute to friends and family members who have died. Far from being gloomy, the show covers a wide range of emotions, and much of it is actually very funny. Finn is best known as the composer of one-act musicals In Trousers, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland , the last two of which were later combined into a full-length show known simply as Falsettos.
The Ethel Merman Disco Album Fynsworth Alley Ethel Merman This is a re-issue of one of the goofier albums ever produced. Merman does her usual thing with Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and George Gershwin but with a disco beat and backup vocals. Fans of the Golden Throats series on Rhino won’t want to miss this one.
A Good Day PS Classics Jessica Molasky This is a delightful collection of classics and new songs all done in a 1950s retro-jazz style. Most of the new stuff is by Molasky and husband and jazz musician John Pizzarelli.
Hair – Broadway Deluxe Collector’s Edition RCA Victor Original Broadway and off-Broadway casts RCA has just released a two-disc set of the Broadway and original off-Broadway cast recordings of Hair, along with bonus tracks and an interview with composer Galt MacDermot. This is the first CD release of the off-Broadway Public Theater cast recording.
K-19: The Widowmaker (soundtrack) Hollywood Records Kirov Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Valery Gergiev Most soundtrack albums make for fairly tedious listening since they’re designed to be relatively unobtrusive. The Klaus Badelt / Richard Einhorn score for this cold war thriller about a nuclear accident on a Russian sub is one of the rare exceptions. The dramatic music holds up remarkably well on its own
London Pride: Songs from the London Stage Varese Sarabande Twiggy Don’t laugh; the former fashion model has developed, over the years, into a successful musical theatre performer with a respectable vocal range. The CD cuts a wide swath, from old music hall songs such as “I Was a Good Little Girl” to “On My Own” from Les Miserables.
Lost in Boston Fynsworth Alley Various This is a dynamite collection of songs that were cut from well-known musicals (such as Chicago, The King and I, West Side Story and so on) before they hit Broadway. The reasons they were cut are varied, but it obviously wasn’t because of quality; this is great stuff, performed by a roster of talented musical theatre and cabaret pros, including Liz Callaway, Sally Mayes, Ron Raines and Lynette Perry.
My Life with Albertine PS Classics Original Broadway cast Richard Nelson wrote the book for and directed this musical adaptation of the “Albertine” sections of Proust’s Remberance of Things Past. Music is by Ricky Ian Gordon, one of the “new generation” of theatre composers who are just beginning to make themselves noticed on Broadway and in regional theatres; others include Michael John LaChiusa, Jason Robert Brown, and Jeanne Tesori. The score has a melodic and harmonic complexity that’s unusual for Broadway
Nine PS Classics Revival Broadway cast Based on Frederico Fellini's 1963 semi-autobiographical film 812, Nine's original book by Mario Fratti was replaced with one by noted playwright Arthur Kopit. Music and lyrics are by Maury Yeston. Both the film and the musical concern a noted Italian film director whose inability to come up with an idea for his new movie causes him to re-evaluate his life and the many women he has known. The original production (in 1982) starred Raul Julia; the Tony Award-winning revival stars Antonio Banderas.
The Prisoner, File 3 Silva Screen Various This is one of three discs devoted to cues and themes from the cult TV series The Prisoner. Like the show itself, the music is inventive and wildly eclectic. This volume is one of the more remarkable of the bunch, with music from four different episodes, including the enigmatic two-part finale “Fallout”
Sail Away Fynsworth Alley Original London cast This was the last musical for which Noel Coward wrote the book, music and lyrics and although he gave it his all, it was neither a critical nor popular success at the time, despite a high-powered performance by Elaine Stritch as Mimi Paragon, cruise director of the S.S. Coronia, on which the action takes place. It ran only 167 performances on Broadway and 265 in London. It’s nice to have the original cast recording of the latter production in print again.
Songs of Jason Robert Brown PS Classics Lauren Kennedy Brown is one of the younger generation of theatre composers who are just beginning to make their presence felt on Broadway and (more noticeably) in regional theatres. This CD is a nice sampler of his work, with songs that are comic, touching, tragic and many other things. Kennedy worked closely with the CD with Brown, who did the arrangements and even does a duet with her on the inspiring “I’d Give it All for You”.
Tell Me On a Sunday Decca Denise Van Outen With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black, Tell Me On a Sunday has a history dating back to 1979, when it was a "concept" album and TV special for British musical theatre star Marti Webb. It later became the first act of Song and Dance (1985), which ran for 474 performances on Broadway. This latest incarnation is a full-length, one-woman show with additional songs written for the purpose. It opened on April 3, 2003, at the Gielgud Theatre for a "strictly limited" run and is still playing as this is being written. Denise Van Outen left the show in late September, when she was replaced by Julie-Alanah Brighten. Tell Me On A Sunday charts the course of a young Englishwoman's life in the United States and the romantic entanglements that seem to confront her at every turn. Through the course of the evening, she finds new strength and new maturity, as well as personal success.



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