For a fan of Broadway musicals, a year can be measured in the number of cast albums that have been produced and released. And 2019 has produced a bumper crop of them. With the holidays just around the corner and a new year about to begin, here is a checklist of this year’s cast albums that you will want to add to your shopping list.
The Prom Masterworks Broadway
It closed far sooner than it should have, but it left behind a cast album that is both worthy of the musical’s joyous themes and its delicious comedy. Masterworks Broadway has ensured that The Prom, with its delightful Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin score, is preserved for all time (and will hopefully incite future productions). Also worth noting are the bravura comedic performances from Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, Christopher Sieber, and Caitlin Kinnunen that will keep listeners smiling.
Beetlejuice Ghostlight Records
The dead, the undead, and even the living are giving audiences plenty of laughs at the Winter Garden Theatre, where Beetlejuice is haunting indefinitely. The Broadway cast album from Ghostlight Records expertly preserves Eddie Perfect’s zany (and, at times, touching) score. Along for the ride is the Tony-nominated performance of Alex Brightman, as well as terrific turns by Sophia Anne Caruso, Kerry Butler, Rob McClure, and Leslie Kritzer. “The Whole Being Dead Thing” is a highlight of the album, a raucous introduction to the title character and his macabre cohorts.
Hadestown Sing It Again Records
Taking a unique approach to releasing the Hadestown Broadway cast album, Sing It Again Records dropped the recording in installments. Grouped by character, these “drops” turned the summer into a music event as we eagerly anticipated the availability of our favorite numbers. Hadestown, which draws its inspiration from Greek mythology, holds the distinction of being one of the few Broadway musicals to be entirely written by a woman, Anaïs Mitchell. Look for such thrilling numbers as “Road to Hell,” “Way Down Hadestown,” and “Wait for Me.” Reeve Carney, Eva Noblezada, Andre De Shields, Amber Gray, and Patrick Page make up the showstopping cast. Hadestown won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Be More Chill Ghostlight Records
Be More Chill built its momentum in regional productions, made its way Off-Broadway for an acclaimed limited run, and then took the giant step to Broadway. Since a cast album of the Off-Broadway incarnation was released, it was doubtful we would receive a new recording for its Broadway berth. So it came a as a surprise when Ghostlight Records announced this recording of the production featuring Will Roland, Jason Tam, Stephanie Hsu, and George Salazar. “Michael in the Bathroom” has proven one of the standouts of the Joe Iconis score.
This Rodgers and Hammerstein classic from 1943 received an edgy and gritty revival at the Circle in the Square Theatre this year, and took home the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Show-tune standards such as “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “Many a New Day,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and the title song received new orchestrations from Dan Kluger, preserved beautifully here on the Oklahoma!2019 revival cast album from Verve. Also worth a listen is Ali Stroker’s Tony-winning (and groundbreaking) turn as Ado Annie Carnes. Daniel Fish directed a whole new Oklahoma! for the 21st century.
Tootsie Decca Broadway
David Yabek (The Band’s Visit) returned to Broadway in 2019 with the musical comedy Tootsie, adapted from the 1982 hit film comedy. Yazbek never disappoints, offering vibrant melodies and sharp, intelligent lyrics for all his scores, and Tootsie is no exception — winning the 2018 Tony Award for Best Score. The cast album, from Decca Records, captures Santino Fontana’s Tony-winning turn as Michael Dorsey and his alter ego, Dorothy. Fragments of Robert Horn’s Tony-winning book are also found on the album, which also includes performances by Lilli Cooper, Sarah Stiles, Andy Grotelueschen, Julie Halston, and Michael McGrath.
Kiss Me, Kate Ghostlight Records
There’s nothing is quite as divine as a musical by Cole Porter. Always witty and filled to the brim with catchy melodies, Kiss Me, Kate remains one of his finest. The Roundabout Theatre Company revival cast recording by Ghostlight Records offers additional pleasures, particularly in the vocal presence of Kelli O’Hara, who wraps her lovely cords around such show-tune classics as “So in Love,” “Wunderbar,” and “I Hate Men.” Will Chase is hilarious is such pompous numbers as “I’ve Come to Wive It Wealthy in Padua” and “Where Is the Life That Late I Led?”
Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations UMe
The 1960s–1970s group The Temptations churned out a parade of hits at the height of their popularity, and many of those chart-climbers found their way into Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations. Though you cannot see the Tony-winning choreography by Sergio Trujillo on the cast album, this recording from UMe Records will have you dancing along with the performances of Derrick Baskin, Jeremy Pope, Ephraim Sykes, and company as they re-create such standards as “My Girl,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and the title song.
Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Ghostlight Records
Jukebox musicals are all the rage in recent years, especially those that tell the compelling real-life stories of music icons who rose from obscurity to become bona fide superstars. The most recent one to come to Broadway is Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, starring Adrienne Warren. Warren is reprising the role she created on London’s West End, and this cast album from Ghostlight Records captures how she crackles and explodes with fire, her vocal performance a pyrotechnic show of epic proportions.
The Cher Show Warner Bros.
One of music’s most enduring talents, for both her string of pop standards and her iconic fashions, Cher was undoubtedly a perfect subject for a Broadway musical. Utilizing her catalog of songs from her lengthy career, a jukebox musical was fashioned that required not one but three women to play the diva. Stephanie J. Block won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her sassy portrayal of “Star” Cher; she shared the stage with Teal Wicks as “Lady” Cher and Micaela Diamond as “Babe” Cher. The Cher Show cast album from Warner Bros. features these performers singing such hits as “If I Could Turn Back Time,” “Believe,” “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “I Got You Babe,” and “Dark Lady.”
The Lightning Thief Broadway Records
Currently playing on Broadway for a limited engagement, the cast album for The Lighting Thiefwas technically released by Broadway Records in 2017, capturing the Off-Broadway production. However, that cast remained intact for the national tour, as well as for the Broadway berth of the Joe Tracz and Rob Rockicki musical based on Rick Riordan’s novel Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. This original cast recording will give you a pretty good idea of the scrappy and fun little musical currently playing at the Longacre Theatre.
Moulin Rouge! RCA
There is a musical theater/pop music extravaganza currently ensconced at Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theatre called Moulin Rouge!Based on the 2001 film of the same name, truth, beauty, freedom, and love are brought to life while employing some of the biggest music hits of the last 100 years, including “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Roxanne,” “Firework,” “Lady Marmalade,” and “Your Song” (to name a few). The RCA original Broadway cast album captures every bit of the show’s energy and gives you a palpable understanding of its lavish production and awe-inspiring spectacle. Aaron Tveit, Tony winner Karen Olivo, and Danny Burstein star.
Jagged Little Pill Atlantic
Due out in early December is the cast album of Jagged Little Pill, a jukebox musical drawing from Alanis Morrisette’s hit album of the same name (and including additional songs by the singer/songwriter). Diablo Cody provides an original plot about a troubled family around which such songs as “All I Really Want,” “Hand in My Pocket,” “That Would Be Good,” and “You Oughta Know” are carefully wrapped. The cast includes Elizabeth Stanley, Sean Allan Krill, Derek Klena, Celia Gooding, and Antonio Cipriano. Diane Paulus directs. Make sure to put this one on your holiday shopping list. The album comes out December 6.
2019 Tony Awards Season Album Broadway Records
Thank you to Broadway Records for continuing to produce this annual sampler that captures a season of Broadway musicals. 2019 Tony Awards Season Album offers highlights from such musicals as Pretty Woman, Hadestown, The Prom, Head Over Heels, Tootsie, Kiss Me, Kate, The Cher Show, and others. Of particular interest is the CD booklet featuring clever caricature art of the season by the always brilliant Justin “Squigs” Robertson. Proceeds from the album will go to the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League’s arts educations initiatives.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, andThe Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His latest book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America,was published October 15. Hemaintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.
Last updated and effective as of January 14, 2019
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