Thursday, January 31, 2008

A couple of Passing Strange photos

This new show is about to start previews at the Belasco Theatre (111 West 44 Street) in Manhattan on February 8 prior to opening February 28, 2008.

Colman Domingo, Stew and Daniel Breaker in the Broadway-bound musical PASSING STRANGE
Photo Credit: Michal Daniel

Stew in the Broadway-bound musical PASSING STRANGE
Photo Credit: Michal Daniel

For further information and some mp3 downloads, drop by:

Listening to Broadway Musicals of 1955

Well, today, the Original Cast Records/Bayview Records release of The Broadway Musicals of 1955 is what was running the background as I did the news-clipping. These discs – I must admit – are always among the most enjoyable that come across the desk every year. Scott Siegel curates these "By the Year" concerts – four annually – beautifully, choosing from both the hits of a given 12 months and the shows that fared less well.

From 1955 – on the "hits" side – there's Damn Yankees (1,019 performances) and Silk Stockings (478 performances). Among the shows that you could call moderate successes – Plain and Fancy (461 performances), Pipe Dream (246 performances) and Ankles Aweigh (176 performances). Finally, 1955 boasted a couple of other musicals – The Vamp (60 performances) and Seventh Heaven (44 performances). The balance of the season was revivals and revues.

Five of the six musicals are represented on 20 tracks of the new "1955" disc – the only omission is "Heaven." There are 4 tunes from "Yankees," 3 from "Stockings," 3 from "Plain," 2 from "Dream," 4 from "Ankles" and 3 from "Vamp" (for those of you keeping track and find that these only add up to 19, track 1 is an introduction). This is a particularly good balance of "hits" and "rarities" – and given that Decca's 2004 CD release of "Ankles" is already out of print – nearly half of the music here is not currently available on vinyl. (The three "Vamp" tracks actually are "premiere recordings.")

The 1955 concert boasted a large array of Broadway and cabaret talent – each performer has a moment when he or she shines. Some of the numbers – like "A Little Brains, A Little Talent" and "Paris Loves Lovers" are so ubiquitous that new recordings seem almost unnecessary, but here, Dee Hoty gives each one exceptional interpretations. The same can be said of Bryan Batt's buoyantly flamboyant "Those Were the Good Old Days" from "Yankees."

From the lesser-known shows, well, Liz Larsen makes "I've Always Loved You" from "Vamp" playfully ironic and Alexander Gemignani's gives a ravishingly emotional interpretation of "Young and Foolish" from "Plain." These two, joined by Connie Pachl and Sal Viviano, bring zest to another song from The Vamp – "Four Little Misfits" – about a quartet of Hollywood celebs who've attained their fame because of their odd personality traits.

Siegel's commentary – pared down for the recording – as always brings context to the songs – and while it's hard to not miss one song from the concert that's not made it to disc (a song from the film of "Stockings") – this is a grand continuation of this invaluable series.

For a more complete sense of the recording (and original concert) – here's my review from 2005:

Also, you may want to consider taking in one of the upcoming "Broadway by the Year" events - the first is scheduled for Monday, March 3 - it's a salute to the musicals of 1947. You can find out more about this and the others in the 2008 series - salutes to 1954, 1965, and 1979 at:

Finally, if you're looking to buy the "1955" disc or any others in the series, drop by:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reinvigorating (Resuscitating?) the ATW Blog

It's hard to believe that the last time I posted to this, was just as the Tony Award nominations were to be announced last May. How time flies. A trip to Beijing, a move out of the five boroughs, and so much more has happened since. We're actually well over half way through the new season and, in fact, the Tony Awards committee has met several times to determine eligibility for this year's awards.

So, a New Year's resolution (better late than never, right?) for myself and the ATW Blog….a post a day – a comment on the news clips or perhaps some thoughts on the disc (or discs) that are playing while I work.

Today, beyond the "I'm Back" aspect to this post …I was heartened to see not only the positive review in today's "Times" about Fabrik, playing at Urban Stages through February 17, but also the swell picture that, combined, I hope will get audiences to this show that I described as "must-see" when I reviewed it for Back Stage last week.

For those of you who've missed it – the "Times" review can be found here:

Here's my Back Stage review:

Thanks for your patience if you've been a subscriber to this and wondered what's happened. Remember – comments are always welcome.

Andy Propst