Stage to Disc with Peter Pinne 2012

Stage to Disc with Peter Pinne 2012

The Sapphires (Sony 88725422172). The soundtrack to the runaway feel-good film of the year is a collection of classic soul standards from the late 60s and early 70s, and as sung by Jessica Mauboy and her co-stars Juanita Tippins, Jade MacRae and Mahalia Barnes is infectious pop. The song-stack includes “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, “What a Man”, “I Can’t Help Myself”, and “I’ll Take You There”. Mauboy is particularly good on Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again”, with Juanita Tippins shining centre stage on “People Make the World a Better Place”. There are also some original tracks from the era by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sam and Dave and The Emotions and a traditional song, “Ngarra Burra Ferra”, sung in Yorta Yorta language. ***

 

 

 

 

 

Rock of Ages (Water Tower Music). The soundtrack of this hit jukebox musical is every bit as good as the original Broadway cast album. The movie’s stars, Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, and newcomers Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough, are all up to the challenge and deliver potent performances of this collection of 80s rock. Zeta-Jones scores with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, Brand and Baldwin do well with “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, and Cruise, a vocal revelation as Stacee Jaxx, eats up “Paradise City”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “I Want To Know What Love Is”. Boneta and Hough as the young lovers also make their mark with “Waiting For a Girl Like You” and “More Than Words.” ****

 

 

 

 

My Funny Valentine – Tim Draxl (Fanfare 008). This CD features songs from Tim Draxl’s cabaret musical Freeway – The Chet Baker Journey, and is without doubt the best album this performer has ever recorded. With accompaniment by a four-piece group led by Ray Alldridge on piano and Eamon McNelis on trumpet, Draxl moves effortlessly through the Chet Baker songbook, from the swinging “Let’s Get Lost” and “There Will Never Be Another You”, to the quiet introspection of “Born To Be Blue” and “The Thrill Is Gone.” Best track is “These Foolish Things.” These songs fit Draxl like a glove. It’s a great collection of 50s jazz and an album to be played often. ****  

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Little Devil (PS Classics PS-1207). PS Classics have really delved into the archives for this latest release, a show from the 1920s written by George Gershwin with lyrics by Buddy DeSylva. It’s the world premiere recording of the score, which has been painstakingly restored by producer Tommy Krasker from the original Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations for the road tour. A terrific cast headed by Rebecca Luker and Danny Burstein have enormous fun in delivering this score, which is in the style of Jerome Kern’s early Princess Theatre Shows, Leave it To Jane and Very Good Eddie. The show produced no hits, but the songs are highly melodic, with lyrics that have a bundle of internal rhymes. Like his recent Follies release, Krasker also includes some linking dialogue to help set the scene. ***

 

 

 

Release Me - Barbra Streisand (Columbia). Barbra Streisand has also dug deep into her private vaults for this new release. Songs recorded for various albums during her career, that for one reason or another did not make it onto the final CD, are featured. Of particular interest to show music fans are tracks intended for The Broadway Album (1985) and Back To Broadway (1993) releases.The singer is in all-stops-out diva mode for “Home” from The Wiz, and makes a perfect medley by coupling “How Are Things In Glocca Morra?” from Finian’s Rainbow with “The Heather On The Hill” from Brigadoon. Other show songs include “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough” from Hallelujah Baby, and an unreleased single version of “With One More Look At You” from the movie A Star Is Born. Sound is excellent with most tracks taken from first generation masters. ****

 

 

 

Silver – Pot Pourri (Move MCD 459). To celebrate their 25th Anniversary, vocal group Pot Pourri have had a line-up change, with Jon Bode and Rebecca Bode joining original members Tania de Jong and Jonathan Morton. The new singers have added warmth and music-theatre theatricality to the group’s sound, which is a good thing. Jon Bode delivers on “Bring Him Home” (Les Miserables) and “The Music Of The Night” (The Phantom of the Opera), likewise Tania de Jong on “La vie en rose” and Rebecca Bode on “Stars and Moon” (Songs for a New World). Together they all sing a very good version of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and a very grand version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (Carousel). Accompaniment is mostly piano, finely played by Rebecca Chambers. ***  

 

 

 

Evita (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice) (Sony/ Masterworks Broadway 88725 42435 1). With two Latin stars, and Lloyd Webber tweaking his orchestrations to sound more Argentinean, this is probably the most authentic Latin sounding version of Evita we’re ever likely to hear. Elena Roger as Eva sings of ‘star quality’ but it’s Ricky Martin who brings it to this recording. With impressive vocals and loads of charisma his ‘everyman’ Che is the star of this show. He’s especially winning on “High Flying Adored” and “And the Money Keeps Rolling In (and out)”. Roger is better on disc than she was in the theatre but the voice is thin and shrill on the top notes. “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You” is one of her better tracks, as is her duet with Martin on “Waltz for Eva and Che”. Michael Cervaris is vocally strong in the underwritten role of Juan Peron, and Max Von Essen makes the most of his cameo “On This Night of a Thousand Stars”, as does Rachel Potter with “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”. The movie’s Oscar-Winning “You Must Love Me” has been added to the score, and there’s a particularly fine Spanish version by Roger of “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” as a bonus track. ****      

Follies (Stephen Sondheim) (PS Classics PS-1105). Like Evita, the latest Broadway cast album of Follies is also a 2CD set. We have heard this score so often, in so many different versions, that it’s hard to bring something fresh to it, but producer Tommy Krasker provides it by adding some dialogue scenes leading into the numbers which help put the characters and story in context. Danny Burstein is a terrific Buddy, likewise Ron Raines as Ben and Jan Maxwell as Phyllis. Bernadette Peters finds the childlike vulnerability in Sally, but vocally doesn’t come close to Dorothy Collins in the original or Barbara Cook on the 1985 concert recording. Elaine Paige is a disappointment on “I’m Still Here,” but Jayne Houdyshell belts “Broadway Baby” the way it should be sung. It’s a complete recording of the score, with lots of incidental music under the dialogue. Best track is undoubtedly Danny Burstein’s “The God-Why-Don’t-You-Love-Me Blues.” I’ve never heard it sung better. ****      

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin/DuBose Heyward) (PS Classics PS-1206). For those who don’t know the Gershwins’ immortal folk-opera, this recording could not be a better introduction. Despite being re-envisaged for the musical theatre it is still a well-sung version of the Gershwin classic, with the added advantage of Audra McDonald as the definitive Bess. Norm Lewis partners her as Porgy, and their duets, “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” and “I Loves You, Porgy”, are highlights. Bryonha Marie Parham as Serena sings the heart out of “My Man’s Gone Now”, and David Alan Grier excels as Sporting Life, making “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “There’s a Boat That’s Leaving Soon for New York” into showstoppers. ****

 

 

Spider-Man - Turn Off the Dark (Bono/The Edge) (Mercury B0015782-02). U2’s Bono and The Edge’s score for Broadway’s most expensive production, the $75 million Spider-Man,is pretentious and un-theatrical, with songs that have no emotional connection to the characters. Melodic hooks are repeated and repeated to the point where they become boring. The most interesting pieces in this dull score are those given to the villain, Patrick Page, who puts a camp spin on “Pull the Trigger” and “DIY World”. **

 

 

 

 

 

End of the Rainbow (Various) (Sony/Masterworks 88691910942). Songs from the Broadway production of the play about the final days in the life of Judy Garland, End of the Rainbow, are sung by the star Tracie Bennett who won an Olivier Award in London for her work and was nominated for a Tony. At times Bennett captures the Garland sound and vocal mannerisms, but there’s not an ounce of emotion in any of it, something Garland had in spades. Songs include most of the Garland classics.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Broadway and More – Volume 3 & 4 (Various) (Original Cast). Producer Bruce Yeko continues his Lost Broadway series with more songs from flop Broadway shows. Volume 3, a piano and vocal album, features songs from The Yearling, Here’s Where I Belong, Barefoot Boy With Cheek and Something More amongst others. Best tracks are “Dame Crazy” (Strip for Action) and “Baby, Baby” (Nowhere to Go But Up) sung by Andrew Samonsky and Leah Horowitz, with Bob Merrill’s ode to bourbon, “If Jesus Don’t Love You (Jack Daniels Will)” from Take Me Along, providing a few laughs. Accompaniment throughout is by Michael Lavine, who also gets to sing on a couple of tracks. Volume 4 is a collection of songs by women theatre composers. Shows include eight tracks from Only a Kingdom, a musical about the romance of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, songs from a musical version of the TV series Little House on the Prairie, plus material from the unproduced National Velvet and Hellzapoppin ’67 by the writers of Baker Street. Best track is the Sullivan sisters, K.T. and Heather, singing Kay Swift’s droll “Nobody Breaks My Heart” from Fine and Dandy. ***  

Newsies (Alan Menken/Jack Feldman) (Ghostlight 8-4457). Disney’s stage adaptation of their flop 1992 movie has been turned into a Broadway blockbuster. Alan Menken and Jack Feldman’s score for the story of a newsboys strike set in New York in 1899 has an appropriate period sound, overlaid with a pop sensibility. All the well-known numbers from the film have been retained and augmented with three new songs, of which “The Bottom Line” sung by John Dossett as the publishing tycoon Joseph Pulitzer is particularly effective and clever. Jeremy Jordan is outstanding as Jack Kelly and leads the company in the rafter-raising ensemble pieces “Carrying the Banner”, “The World Will Know” and “Seize the Day”, and is achingly wistful on “Santa Fe”, the best number in the show. Harvey Fierstein’s reworked book has wisely given the Kelly character a love interest, Katherine (Kara Lindsay), which results in a new tender duet for the two lovers “Something to Believe In”. “King of New York” is done as a rousing tap-routine, while “That’s Rich”, sung by Capathia Jenkins as theatre-owner Madda, replaces Ann Margaret’s movie turn “My Lovey-Dovey Baby”. *****

Nick Jonas – Songs from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Frank Loesser) (Broadway Records BR-CD00212E). Nick Jonas was a popular and personable replacement after Daniel Radcliffe and Darren Criss in the 2011 Broadway revival of Frank Loesser’s classic 60s musical. A five track CD of the title song, “The Company Way,” “Rosemary,” “I Believe In You” and “Brotherhood of Man” has just been released. He doesn’t have Radcliffe’s edge, but it’s a vocally smooth performance and well worth a listen. Orchestra and cast remain the same as the Radcliffe version. ****

 

 

 

Smash (Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman) (Columbia 88691-96624-2 /13 Tracks Standard Release/18 Tracks Deluxe Edition). The soundtrack from the television series about putting on a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe is a collection of most of the songs that have appeared in the first series. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s original material stands out as sharp, clever and very theatrical in this collection which mixes pop with Broadway. “Let Me Be Your Star” is the obvious diva showstopper, sung by the show’s two leads Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty, but also good are “Twentieth Century Fox Mambo”, “Let’s Be Bad” and “History Is Made at Night”. The best and most memorable song is the romantic ballad “Mr and Mrs Smith”. Angela Huston sings a nicely melancholic “September Song” (Knickerbocker Holiday), while Bernadette Peters belts out “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (Gypsy). The latter two are only on the Deluxe edition.****

 

 

 

The Good Old Bad Old Days (Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse) (Kritzerland KR20019-9). The Original 1972 London Cast recording of Newley and Bricusse’s least successful musical has just been reissued for the first time on CD. Starring Newley, and despite being panned by the critics, the show hung around for nine months, helped by the infectious score. Once heard, it’s hard to forget the catchy title tune, or the toe-tapping “The People Tree”. The show’s biggest hit was “It’s a Musical World”, which Petula Clark catapulted to hit status. “The Fool Who Dared to Dream” sung by Newley tries hard to be another “What Kind of Fool Am I?” with mixed results, but Australian Terry Mitchell shows off some impressive pipes with his solo “I Do Not Love You”. ***

 

 

 

 

Dave Willetts – Once in a Lifetime (Various) (Stage Door 9030). Dave Willetts the 25th Anniversary Collection is a selection of unreleased and newly recorded studio tracks, reissues, plus eight live recordings. Undoubtedly Willetts is one of the best musical theatre performers to emerge from the West End in the last 25 years, as this CD demonstrates. His powerful voice is distinctive with a remarkable range. He starts with a driving “Once in a Lifetime” (Stop the World), and ends with a medley from The Phantom of the Opera. In between he partners Petula Clark on the title song from their 1990 West End outing Someone Like You, duets with Broadway star Carol Woods on a new song “We Love Who We Love”, anddelivers a brilliant reading of the previously released “This Is the Moment” (Jekyll and Hyde). But the album is full of many magic moments including songs from Sweeney Todd, Matador, Brigadoon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Randy Newman’s Faust. ****

 

 

Our Glad (Various) (Warner 5310512705). Like Don Bradman and Les Darcy, Gladys Moncrieff is part of Australia’s DNA, so it’s hard to understand how Warners could reissue this 2CD compilation without any liner notes and no credits for her male co-stars, Colin Crane and John Valentine on four of the tracks. The album features songs from her most popular successes, The Maid of the Mountains, Rio Rita, The Belle Of New York andThe Merry Widow, plus tracks from Music in the Air, The Desert Song and Naughty Marietta amongst others. Clean-up of the original 78rpm source material is good, with no trace of surface noise.*

 

 

 

    

Memphis (David Bryan/Joe DiPietro) (Shout 826663-13007). More than two years after it opened, and after picking up four Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2010, Memphis, in an unusual move for a show that is still playing on Broadway,has just been released on DVD. Featuring the original cast led by Chad Kimball and Montego Glover, both of whom received Tony nominations, the musical is just as enjoyable on the small screen as it was in the theatre. David Bryan (Bon Jovi) and Joe DiPietro’s score about the birth of rock‘n’roll in Memphis’ underground clubs of the segregated 1950s is irresistibly joyous. Standout tunes include the gospel, “Make Me Stronger,” James Monroe Iglehart’s “Big Love,” Glover’s “Love Will Stand Where All Else Falls,” and Kimball’s “Memphis Lives In Me.” Special Features include a Who’s Who Behind the Scenes: How Memphis Was Captured. **** 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie (Charles Strouse/Martin Charnin) (Sony 88691945392). The new live Australian cast recording of Annie stars Anthony Warlow as Oliver Warbucks, and Nancye Hayes as Miss Hannigan. Warlow is in fine voice, especially on his solo “Something Was Missing,” and Hayes brings her own brand of nasty to “Little Girls.” The revelation of the recording is Julie Goodwin as Grace. Her vocals dominate every track she’s on. Alan Jones (FDR) and Ella Nicol (Annie) bring a little emotion to the reprise of “Tomorrow,” and the Orphans chorus does well with “You’ve Never Fully Dressed without a Smile.” The dance sequence of “Easy Street” has been extended to give Chloe Dallimore and Todd McKenney a chance to show off their dancing skills, and “We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover” has a new orchestration, giving the song a much darker feel. Missing is the jaunty 1930s snap of the original, and the irony. ***

 

 

Matilda (Tim Minchin) (RSCE 002). Kids of a different bent are portrayed in Tim Minchin’s score for Matilda. Based on the black comedy by Roald Dahl about how a bright young girl Matilda, cursed with a cretinous family and a witch of a school principal, learns self-reliance, Minchin has captured the style of Dahl’s story in songs that are clever and mischievous. Each character gets a moment in the sun; Matilda with “Naughty” and the introspective “Quiet,” the headmistress Miss Trunchbull (played in drag by Bertie Carvel) with “The Hammer” and the tango “The Smell of Rebellion,” and the parents, Mrs Wormwood (Josie Walker) who is a riot on the Latin “Loud,” and Mr Wormwood (Paul Kaye), who’s very funny on ‘Telly.” Miss Honey’s (Lauren Ward) “My House” is tender and the only song that could be sung outside the show. ***     

 

 

 

Meredith Braun Someone Else’s Story (Stage Door 9029) is the debut solo album from the New Zealand soprano who has starred in the West End as Betty Schaeffer in Sunset Boulevard, Lily in The Secret Garden, Eponine in Les Miserables, and Christine in The Phantom of the Opera. With piano and cello accompaniment, Braun brings her warm, clear soprano to an interesting selection of show ballads; the pretty “China Doll” from Marguerite, the introspective “Wait a Bit” from Just So, Oscar winner“You Must Love Me” from the Evita movie, and the title song from Love Never Dies. She brackets two Sondheim songs in two medleys and performs them beautifully; “No One Is Alone” (Into the Woods) is coupled with “Not While I’m Around” (Sweeney Todd), whilst “Good Thing Going” and “Not a Day Goes By,” both from Merrily We Roll Along, fit together perfectly.***

 

 

 

David Harris At This Stage (AMC10519). David Harris is in great voice on his new collection of show songs, At This Stage. He puts a contemporary spin on some old favorites, “If I Loved You” and “Younger Than Springtime”, and sings the heart out of “Why God, Why?” (Miss Saigon) as he did on stage. The album also features three duets; “As Long As You’re Mine” (Wicked) sung with his Wicked co-star Jemma Rix, “I See the Light” from the movie Tangled, sung with Lucy Durack, and a West Side Story medley, “Maria”/”Tonight”/”One Hand One Heart”, sung with Kellie Rode. There are also terrific versions of “Anthem” (Chess) and the not-often-recorded-by-a-male, “Unexpected Song” (Song and Dance).***

 

 

 

 

Anne Wood Divine Discontent (Universal). Anne Wood’s first solo album is an acoustic collection of eleven ABBA songs sung with a four-piece group. The arrangements by James Roche are intelligent, the material familiar, with Wood singing like you’ve never heard her before. Forget Donna in Mamma Mia, this is Wood unplugged. Best tracks are “I Wonder,” “Dance (while the music goes on)” and “Winner Takes It All.” There’s also a premiere recording of “The Day the Wall came Tumbling Down”, a song written for the demolition of the Berlin Wall and only ever sung at a concert by ABBA on that day. The concept is artistically interesting, but I could have done without the breathy, pretentious intros. **  

 

 

 

Betty Blue Eyes (First Night CASTCD111).Recorded live, this short-lived West-End musical was based on the 1985 movie A Private Practice. Set in post-WW2 England in 1947, the slight story about a Lancashire podiatrist and his wife and a contraband pig has a period-sounding score, clever and literate lyrics by Anthony Drewe and agreeable music by George Styles. Sarah Lancashire works hard to make “Nobody” into a showstopper, but it’s the catchy title song which comes off as the most memorable. Two ensemble pieces work well; “Another Little Victory,” with its Noel Coward feel, and “Pig No Pig,” which cleverly uses every word in the dictionary for pig to get maximum laugh mileage. Kylie Minogue voices Betty, the mechanical on-stage pig, whose contribution is one line at the end of the show. It’s all very, very British, but fun. ****

 

 

 

Elf (Sklar/Beguelin) (Ghostlight 8-4453) is a toe-tapping, old-fashioned but fun Broadway musical, based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie of the same name. Composed by the guys who wrote The Wedding Singer, it’s a very dancy show with witty lyrics and lots of hummable tunes. “A Christmas Song” and “The Story of Buddy the Elf” are both catchy, likewise “SparkleJollyTwinkleJingly.” Beth Leavel and Sebastian Arcelus have a super duet, “There is a Santa Claus,” with “All the Way” and “Just Like Him” registering strongly. ****

 

 

 

 

 

Death Takes a Holiday (Yeston) (PS Classics PS1104) is a beautiful recording of an intriguing melody-rich score by Maury Yeston. Like Nine it’s also set in Italy and based on Alberto Casella’s 1924 play of the same name about Death, who decides to become mortal after being captivated by the dazzling beauty of a young woman. “Life’s a Joy” is particularly lively, as is “Shimmy Like They Do In Paree,” which could be a second-cousin to Grand Hotel’s “I Want To Go To Hollywood.” Yeston’s lyrics are at best functional, but no one can fault the writing of his vocal lines, especially in the trio “Finally To Know.” Kevin Early (Death) and Michael Siberry (Duke Vittorio) have a perceptive duet “Why Do All Men?” whilst Rebecca Luker’s “Losing Roberto” is touching. ****     

 

 

Soho Cinders (Styles/Drewe) (SIMGR CD09), the new musical from the pens of George Styles and Anthony Drewe, puts a contemporary gay spin on Cinderella. Recorded live at the Queens Theatre, London, 9 October 2011, a top-heavy-with-talent cast literally have a ball with this enjoyable, engaging piece of musical theatre. Hero Robbie (Jos Slovick), a rent boy, sings to his latest hook-up on his iPad (“Gypsies of the Ether”), goes to the ball in a rickshaw (“You Shall Go to the Ball”), and shares a sweet moment with his fag-hag girlfriend Velcroe (Amy Lennox) on “It’s Hard to Tell” (whether guys are gay or straight). Hannah Waddingham and Lennox score with the memorable “Let Him Go,” with Slovick appealingly tender on his solo “They Don’t Make Glass Slippers.” The lyrics are witty and the score has its musical roots in British rock. **** 

 

 

A Minister’s Wife( Schmidt/Tranen) (PS Classics PS1102) is what I call an “art-house” musical. If you think the idea of a musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s Candida sounds heavy-going, it is. Tracks of dialogue are interspersed with themes that are repeated and repeated and repeated. It’s by the same composer who wrote The Adding Machine. The waltz “Enchantment” momentarily lifts the piece and the finale “Into the Night” is stirring, but otherwise it’s dull. **

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Princess( Lippa/Crawley) (Ghostlight 8-4451). Andrew Lippa’s musicalisation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel is charming. Originally staged by TheatreWorks, California, in 2004, this recording features some cast members of that production plus Sierra Boggess, Julia Murney and Laura Benanti. Boggess, who plays the title character Sara, is the prize here. She’s excellent, especially on the Act Two opening “Another World.” “Soon My Love” and “Isn’t That Always the Way,” both in three-four, and the chorus number “Almost Christmas” are standouts, as is the exuberant “Timbuktu,” which even includes a touch of G&S in the middle. ****   

 

 

 

 

 

The Music Man (Sepia 1173). The original London cast of The Music Man, which starred MGM movie star Van Johnson as Harold Hill, Patricia Lambert as Marian and Denis Waterman as Winthrop, has just been reissued on Sepia. Johnson was an agreeable Hill, and Lambert, with her clear soprano, sings beautifully as Marian. Bonus tracks include Johnson’s audition track for the role “Ya Got Trouble” plus eight cut songs sung by composer Meredith Willson. ***

Sweet Bye and Bye (PS Classics PS-1198) is the world premiere recording of a 1946 musical that closed out-of-town, with a score by Vernon Duke (“April In Paris”/”Autumn In New York”), lyrics by Ogden Nash and a book by humorists S.J. Perelman and Al Hirschfeld. A strong cast, headed by Marin Mazzie and Danny Burstein, do their best with a score that’s obviously second-rate. It’s well-produced and beautifully packaged, but it’s easy to see why it never reached Broadway. **

 

 

Very American, but also fun, is the reissue of the London Cast recording of Jule Styne and Comden and Green’s big, brash and brassy Do Re Mi (Sepia 1179),a 1960 Broadway entry about the music business. Max Bygraves headed the cast as Hubert Cram, his one and only appearance in a musical, and he does a fine job on “It’s Legitimate,” “The Late, Late Show,” and actually brings some heart to “All Of My Life.” Playing opposite him is Australian Maggie Fitzgibbon. Her material is not in the same class, but she gives her all on “Waiting, Waiting” and “Adventure.” Big-voiced Steve Arlen makes the most of the score’s hit “Make Someone Happy,” and “I Know About Love,” which both appear as bonus tracks in their pop versions. Other bonus tracks feature legendary comedienne Beatrice Lillie with the novelty pop send-up, “What’s New At The Zoo” and Rose Marie singing two songs that were cut before the show opened on Broadway. **** 

 

       

The Sound of Music (Stage Door).Long before Julie Andrews became the quintessential Maria Von Trapp on film, June Bronhill was one of the best Marias on stage. Her performance was captured on disc when the original Australian cast recorded the score on the stage of Melbourne’s Princess Theatre in 1961. It’s now been reissued on CD for the first time. In 1961 Bronhill’s voice was at its prime, which is evident by her truly astonishing vocals on the title song, “My Favourite Things,” “Do Re Mi” and “The Lonely Goatherd.” Rosina Raisbeck effortlessly handles “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and Peter Graves is pleasantly appealing on “Edelweiss.” Bonus tracks include studio recordings of Bronhill singing four of the show’s major songs. ****

 

 

 

 

Some exceptional musical theatre writing is present in Johnny The Priest (Must Close Saturday Records 3051), a reissue of a little-known musical about East End gangs and a vicar who tries to help them, which was called an English West Side Story at the time of its production in 1960. Written by classical composer Antony Hopkins, with lyrics by Peter Powell, it was Hopkins’ one and only foray into musical theatre. His almost operatic treatment of dialogue set to music is beautifully realized in “Vicarage Tea” and “Stormy Night,” with “Be Not Afraid,” “Beyond These Narrow Streets” and “Rooftops” just as impressive. The teenage pieces, “Doin’ the Burp,” “The Foggy Foggy Blues” and “Ping Pong” have rawness and an edge of authenticity. Performances by Jeremy Brett and Stephanie Voss as the vicar and his wife couldn’t be better. ****

 

 

Jeremy Brett also starred in Marigold (MCSR 3052),a 1959 West-End musical based on a 1927 play of the same name, written by Australian composer Charles Zwar and his frequent collaborator, Alan Melville. Set in Scotland during the mid-18th Century, the musical also featured movie star Jean Kent. Zwar’s score, reminiscent of Coward, is melodious, with Melville’s lyrics frequently witty. Standout songs are “Love Can’t be Learned,” “Always Ask You Heart” and “Princes Street.” Bonus tracks include a collection of the authors’ revue pieces.***

 

 

 

 

 

 

Must Close Saturday records have also reissued Wildest Dreams (MCSR 3049),the final collaboration in the Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds oeuvre. Although playing a mere 76 performances, the work has uncomplicated but tuneful music. “A Man’s Room” is pretty ballad, whilst “The Girl on the Hill” is full of the tinkly piano work which epitomizes Slade and Reynolds’ brand of musical theatre. Bonus tracks include “A Resounding Tinkle,” a delicious send-up of their work from the revue On the Brighter Side (1961). ***

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Thomson is a perfect fit for bush poetry. Jack Thompson Live (Fine Poets),recorded at the Gearin Hotel, Katoomba, is the seventh in a series of collections of some of Australia’s favorite poets. “The Man from Snowy River” and “Clancy of the Overflow” by A.B. (Banjo) Peterson feature along with “The Play” and “Doreen” from The Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis. Thompson’s laconic delivery brings out the humor of these well-loved bush classics, which rub shoulders on the disc with pieces by Henry Lawson and John O’Grady. Also available on DVD. ****    

Rating

*Only for the enthusiast ** Borderline *** Worth buying **** Must have ***** Kill for it. 

Originally published across six edition on Stage Whispers during 2012.