Once a musical is cast and its performers know what they have to do, you’ll find they’ll split up into two camps.

Some will listen intently to the original cast album.

Some will completely avoid it, lest they be swayed by the interpretations given by the original artists.

But wait! While those who opt to listen may well be studying what the original performers did so they can replicate it word-for-word, phrase-for-phrase, note-for-note and breath-for-breath, others could be seeing what the original performers did so they could do something specifically different.

Whatever the case, when a revival cast album or a studio cast album comes along later, performers get another chance to compare, contrast, avoid or borrow.

So here’s a new recording called AND THE WORLD GOES ROUND, courtesy of Kritzerland – which opted for the show’s original title (minus the apostrophe in front of ROUND) instead of the name that the surviving creators now prefer: THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND, which is how we at MTI license it.

While the original cast single-disc album weighed in at a little more than 73 minutes, this two-disc set comes in at just under one hour and fifty-seven minutes. So, performers, here’s twice as much material to compare, contrast, avoid or borrow.

That’s a definite consideration with this revue. Some have noted that because so many of its songs have been associated with Liza Minnelli (ten), Chita Rivera (two) and Barbra Streisand (two), your performers will automatically come across as their understudies. Well, maybe – but not if you look at these songs in a different light.

That’s where Streisand comes in. As a 19-year-old, she jump-started her career by singing “Happy Days Are Here Again,” a three-decades-old barnburner, but doing it in a startlingly different way. While it had always been straightforward, up-tempo and celebratory, Streisand’s slow and deliberate rendition revealed a survivor who’d worked long and hard to defeat adversity and secure her happiness. She conveyed that after a struggle that was touch-and-go for far too long, she had at last emerged exhausted, yes, but victorious. And wasn’t she also implying that such a setback would never dare to happen to her again?

Such an interpretation should be an inspiration to all who tackle any song that’s been around for a while. Find something new, friends.

Oh, it is true that there will be people in your audience who will want your performers to sound exactly like Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera and Barbra Streisand. But if I may cast my three electoral votes, performers will reach, to quote a 1997 Streisand album, higher ground if they make each song their own. Which would you prefer owning: Seurat’s original Un Dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte or a print of it? As Sondheim wrote in SATURDAY NIGHT, I rest my case.

To quote a Kander and Ebb song that didn’t make this 1991 revue, “So what else is new?” The answer is, in fact, that this recording offers seven songs and nine instrumental selections that couldn’t fit on the single disc 23 years ago.

Most obscure of all is “Pain,” which, unlike the six others, has never appeared on any cast album. It tells of the agonizing downside of exercise, and will inspire directors and choreographers to come up with moves that will replicate the arduous, tedious, excruciating and injury-resulting body tortures that people routinely inflict on themselves in the gym. The entire company – Brent Barrett, Kyra Da Costa, Jason Graae, Joshua Eli Krantz, Christiane Noll and Kristin Towers-Rowles – sound as if they were crippling themselves on the gym’s most unforgiving ERG machine during the entire length of the song.

On a more felicitous note, there’s “The Happy Time,” the title song of the 1968 musical of the same name. It’s a swirling waltz of a list song that includes many pleasant memories: “Remember the day you found the dollar bill or roller skating down the hill?” Krantz elegantly sings. Of course Fred Ebb was never one to be accused of over-sentimentalizing, which is why he added as another example of happiness “the lie you told they all believed.”

As if Kander and Ebb weren’t busy enough with The Happy Time at the start of 1968, they finished the year with ZORBA, their Tony-nominated musical version of Zorba the Greek. From it, we hear “Only Love,” a plaintive song of longing on which Da Costa and Graae join forces. (A side note: more than one person has observed that while composer Manos Hadjidakis was actually Greek, his music for Illya, Darling somehow manages to come across as less authentically Greek than Kander’s music for ZORBA.)

Whatever happened to “Class” on the original AND THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND – or in the Oscar-winning film version of Chicago, for that matter? Here it is, with Da Costa and Noll reminding us that those who sing this ditty need not portray either a jailer or a murderess to make the point that things aren’t as lovely as they used to be. And what better proof of a loosening and lessening of standards than having two crude characters deliver the message?

Noll brings up another point. Do you have someone in your cast who, because of a talent for dramatic singing, has never had a fair chance to show comic chops? Broadway first came to know Noll as Emma Carew, the romantic interest in the original 1996 Broadway production of JEKYLL & HYDE; a dozen years later, she played the admirable Mother in RAGTIME. Good as Noll was in both – and a Tony nomination came her way for the latter role – neither Emma nor Mother offered her any chance to show a humorous side. Who knew if Noll even had one?

Now we know for sure. Noll cavorts to the nines in “Ring Them Bells,” the song which Ebb swore was based on a true incident: a woman desperate to meet a man finds one on a Yugoslavia vacation – only to learn he literally lives next door to her in a Manhattan apartment building. Noll gets us to laugh at every one of Ebb’s many punchlines.

Yes, think outside the proverbial box. “Me and My Baby,” which the entire company does on this set, is a snazzy paean to motherhood, so why not cast someone noticeably pregnant who’s still game to sing a lot and dance at least a little? Just getting through the Eddie Cantor-ish number will allow her to get her many cheers. (And won’t those cheers make for some nice pre-natal influence for the baby-to-be?)

That brings up another possibility in staging THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND. You may have found at your theater that some of your best performers don’t have the time to devote to learning a full score’s worth of songs. So if you can only get your biggest star to commit to a single song, grab him or her and make that one number a stellar showcase. Split up the songs among as many people as you like. THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND offers, to quote a line from A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, “an infinite number of mathematical possibilities.”

“The Rink” is the title song from the 1984 musical about the generation gap not between father and son, as is the norm, but mother and daughter. Kander easily captured the sound of a roller-skating emporium of yore, and Graae and Barrett seem to be having a rollicking good time, partly because they weren’t on roller skates when they were singing. (Your cast won’t get off as easily.)

Finally, if I may get personal, the seventh additional song on this album is my all-time favorite show song. And considering that my apartment houses recordings of either complete scores or selections from 2,706 musicals (yes, I DO keep track), this is not a statement that I make lightly.

But the honor goes to “Yes” from K&E’s 1971 musical 70, Girls, 70.

It stresses that we should seize the day, minute, second, month, year, decade and every moment we experience in life. “Don’t say ‘Why?’” Ebb instructs; “Say ‘Why not?’”

He’s right; life’s too short not to say “Yes” when opportunities of any delicious kind come our way. That means, of course, saying a resounding “Yes!” to getting the new cast album of AND THE WORLD GOES ROUND and performing THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND to boot.

You may e-mail Peter at pfilichia@aol.com. Check out his weekly column each Tuesday at www.masterworksbroadway.com and each Friday at www.kritzerland.com. His new book, Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks – a Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award is now available at www.amazon.com.

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

    { 0 comments }

    Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is now a Theatre for Young Audiences musical for the whole family to enjoy! Featuring a wickedly tuneful score by the TONY Award-nominated team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (DOGFIGHT, A Christmas Story the Musical), and a curiously quirky book by Timothy Allen McDonald (ROALD DAHL’s WILLY WONKA, THE MUSICAL ADVENTURES OF FLAT STANLEY), critics rave JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH TYA is a “masterpeach!”

    The Regional Premiere:

    Nashville Children’s Theatre. Photo by Colin Peterson

    The Nashville Children’s Theatre is currently presenting the regional premiere of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH TYA through December 14th, and the production is being hailed by as “one sweet adventure!” by theatre critic Amy Stumpfl.  Stumpfl further attests, “One of the great pleasures of live theater is sharing wonderful performances with those we love. So it was with great anticipation — and no small amount of pride — that I sat down to experience Nashville Children’s Theatre’s charming production of ‘James and the Giant Peach’ with my 8-year-old nephew. As expected, NCT delivered the sweetest of treats.”  Read the full article: The Tennessean: James and the Giant Peach is One Sweet Adventure

    Roald Dahl’s Enduring Legacy:

    Seattle Children’s Theatre.  Photo by Chris Bennion

    A cover story in American Theatre magazine features the debut production of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH TYA, (which took place at the Seattle Children’s Theatre in 2013), and includes insights into Roald Dahl’s enduring appeal among young people.  Authors McDonald, Pasek and Paul are all quoted in the piece which is a must read for any true Roald Dahl fan.  Read the article: American Theatre: Roald Dahl’s Dark Tales Light Up the Stage

    Sign Up for Fast Track Notification:

    Sign up for Fast-Track Notification to be among the first to know when JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH TYA is available.  We’ll send you an email in advance of the title’s general release.

    Be Sociable, Share!

      { 0 comments }

      Music Theatre International has secured worldwide licensing rights to the Tony Award® winning, Broadway musical sensation KINKY BOOTS.

      In KINKY BOOTS, Charlie Price has reluctantly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola. A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he’s meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.

      Inspired by a true story and based on the Miramax motion picture written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth, KINKY BOOTS features a warm and witty book by Harvey Fierstein and a richly diverse musical score from Cyndi Lauper, in her stunning theatrical debut. Jerry Mitchell has crafted a production bound to move, inspire and set audience’s feet dancing.

      KINKY BOOTS is a one-of-a-kind musical filled with incredible energy, and an extremely powerful message,” according to Drew Cohen, President of MTI. “’Being who you want to be’ resonates with people everywhere and is made palpable through Cyndi Lauper’s infectious score and Harvey Fierstein’s hilarious and insightful book. The show provides so many opportunities for creative choreography and actors will love bringing these characters to life on their stages across the country.”

      The original production of KINKY BOOTS premiered in Chicago in October 2012, with both direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, and starring Stark Sands and Billy Porter as Charlie and Lola, respectively. It made its Broadway debut at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 4, 2013.

      The production earned a season-high 13 nominations and 6 Tony wins, including Best Musical and Best Score for Lauper in her first outing as a Broadway composer, making her the first woman to win alone in that category. The musical’s cast album premiered at number one on the Billboard Cast Albums Chart and number fifty-one on the Billboard 200 chart.

      Get Tickets:

      Click here for information about Broadway and National Tour tickets.

       

       

      Be Sociable, Share!

        { 0 comments }

        Use code MTI20 to receive 20% off your tickets* to two exciting events coming up at 54 Below, the hottest nightspot in New York City.

        A LITTLE PRINCESS in Concert:

        Andrew Lippa and Brian Crawley’s beloved musical, A Little Princess, is coming to 54 Below.  This special holiday season concert features Abigail Shapiro as Sarah Crewe (Cindy Lou Who in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Shapiro Sisters: “Live Out Loud – Live at 54 Below”), composer Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party, I Am Harvey Milk) as Captain Crewe and many Broadway stars to be announced soon. A Little Princess is the classic story of a beleaguered young girl with an unbridled imagination and is based on the beloved Frances Hodgson Burnett novel.

        Click here for tickets.

        Frank Wildhorn and Friends:

        Over the past two decades, Frank Wildhorn has given us timeless stories and countless classics set to soaring scores. 54 Below is proud to present a week in celebration of the acclaimed composer of Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War, Dracula, Bonnie & Clyde, Wonderland, and Victor/Victoria.

        With eight Broadway shows, twenty original international shows, and almost 100 million records sold of his songs, Frank is one of this generation’s most important songwriters. It will be a week of Broadway’s best singers, a reunion of one of Frank’s Broadway shows, and songs from a catalog that goes from Whitney Houston to Julie Andrews, from Hootie and the Blowfish to Johnny Mathis, and from Sammy Davis, Jr. to The Moody Blues. With an all-star band of musicians, you’ll be sure to hear all your favorites in addition to brand new songs, never been heard before. Spend an evening celebrating Frank Wildhorn at Broadway’s own 54 Below.

        12/2 and 12/3 will star original cast members from Bonnie & Clyde including Jeremy Jordan, Laura Osnes, Melissa van der Schyff, Michael Lanning, Mimi Bessette, Louis Hobson, and more.

        12/5 and 12/6 will star Leslie Odom, Jr., Brandi Burkhardt, Janet Dacal, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Adrienne Warren, Jane Monheit (12-5 only).

        Click here for tickets.

        *Some seating restrictions may apply.

        Be Sociable, Share!

          { 0 comments }

          Star in a Music Video with the Cast of Peter Pan Live!

          November 14, 2014

          Want to star in a music video alongside the official cast of NBC’s Peter Pan Live!, singer/songwriter Alex G. and other surprise guests? Dance your heart out to a brand new rendition of the Peter Pan classic, “I Won’t Grow Up” created by DJ Tay James! Submit your video here: http://www.peterpanmashup.com/ Watch for the video [...]

          Be Sociable, Share!
            Read the full article →

            Filichia Features: What You Can Do with a SATURDAY NIGHT

            November 14, 2014

            You’re the drama director at an all-boys’ school who’s looking for a musical that requires far more young men than young women. Oh, a show with a few female roles is fine, for you can borrow bodies from a nearby all-girls’ school. But still, there aren’t many shows that meet your requirements. After all, you [...]

            Be Sociable, Share!
              Read the full article →

              Download the FREE Peter Pan Live! Study Guide

              November 12, 2014

              Get set to see your students’ imaginations soar as Peter Pan LIVE! flies into living rooms across the country in an all-new LIVE production of the magical Broadway musical, Thursday, December 4th, at 8/7c on NBC. The study guide introduces students to the iconic characters, irrepressible adventures, and inspirational songs of this family classic, with [...]

              Be Sociable, Share!
                Read the full article →

                Videos from the Public Theatre’s Production of Love’s Labour’s Lost!

                November 11, 2014

                Check out these great video selections from the Public Theatre’s summer 2013 production, and from Playbill’s coverage of the making of the album: Be Sociable, Share!

                Be Sociable, Share!
                  Read the full article →

                  Love’s Labour’s Lost Now Available For Licensing

                  November 11, 2014

                  Romance, revelry and enchanting music ignite in this contemporary yet lovingly faithful musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy. Using the original text, Love’s Labour’s Lost reunites Obie Award winner Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and two-time TONY Award nominee Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher) as they bring their one-of-a-kind sensibility to the immortal words [...]

                  Be Sociable, Share!
                    Read the full article →

                    Follow the Producers of Peter Pan Live, The Oscars, and a Whole Lot More on Twitter!

                    November 10, 2014

                    You may not recognize their faces, you may not even know their names, but Craig Zadan’s and Neil Meron’s productions have earned a total of six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 13 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, a Grammy Award, five GLAAD Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, and two Tony Awards with their various feature [...]

                    Be Sociable, Share!
                      Read the full article →