What’s better than opening a Christmas present and finding a friend or loved one has thoughtfully gifted you with the music of Broadway? This past year has been packed with the releases of many new Broadway cast recordings, and Broadway Direct offers our readers this handy guide to those who will most assuredly be on your holiday shopping list.
The Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Masterworks Broadway)
The world is full of Harry Potter fans who cannot wait to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two). It’s not a Broadway musical, like most of items on this list, but Masterworks Broadway produced a recording of the epic play’s Drama Desk–winning score. Two-time Grammy winner Imogen Heap imagines the show’s four separate acts as individual suites, each capturing the magic and mystery of J.K. Rowling’s world.
Pretty Woman: The Musical (Atlantic)
A romantic comedy with a happily-ever-after conclusion makes us feel all warm and wonderful. That might be why the 1990 film Pretty Woman was such an enormous hit and continues to be beloved to this day. Pretty Woman: The Musical, which has been adapted for the Broadway stage with a score by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, reimagines the film as a musical. The Atlantic Records album stars the show’s Samantha Barks and Andy Karl as they sing about their unlikely romance between a millionaire and a hooker with a heart of gold.
Gettin’ the Band Back Together (Sh-K-Boom)
If you missed the Broadway production of Gettin’ the Band Back Together last fall and didn’t have a chance to hear the Mark Allen score, the original cast album from Sh-K-Boom Records is definitely something you will want to put on your Christmas list. With a cast that includes Mitchell Jarvism Jay Klaitz, Paul Whitty, Manu Narayan, Garth Kravitz, Brandon Williams, and Marilu Henner, the musical may be closed, but the fun lives on through the company’s lively performances preserved here.
The Prom (Masterworks Broadway)
Broadway’s latest feel-good hit The Prom gets a cast album that Masterworks Broadway released December 14. It includes all the Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin songs that have critics and audiences celebrating. Broadway stalwarts Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, and Christopher Sieber lead the cast with their usual sparkling comedic talents. The Prom tells the story of a handful of stage actors who come to the aid of an Indiana teenager who wants to bring her girlfriend to her high school prom.
Carousel (Craft Recordings)
The 2018 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, by Craft Recordings, is a moving preservation of a spectacular score. A new recording of a Broadway classic, the album includes such show-tune favorites as “If I Loved You,” “Soliloquy,” and “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over.” The Grammy-nominated album also offers the often-excised and not-often-recorded “The Highest Judge of All,” which was included in this revival. And, of course, there is the Tony-winning performance of Lindsay Mendez as Carrie Pipperidge to experience in all its glory.
The Band’s Visit (Ghostlight)
This year’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical The Band’s Visit continues to earn worthy accolades. Ghostlight Records’ cast album just received a well-deserved Grammy nomination. David Yazbek’s hypnotic score, which includes the mesmerizing “Omar Sharif,” “Itzik’s Lullaby,” and “Answer Me,” is sung with breathtaking beauty by the original Broadway cast. Tony winners Katrina Lenk, Tony Shalhoub, and Ari’el Stachel demonstrate the nuance and talent that secured their well-deserved honors.
Prince of Broadway (Ghostlight)
Director/producer Harold Prince has touched and shaped so many Broadway musicals in the last six decades that the man has easily claimed his place as one of theater’s greatest innovators. Prince of Broadway was a limited engagement presented by Manhattan Theatre Club that was a retrospective of the great musicals that flourished under his guidance. Flora the Red Menace, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, She Loves Me, Follies, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Phantom of the Opera are among the titles represented in this revue that is captured here by Ghostlight Records.
My Fair Lady (Broadway Records)
The Lincoln Center revival of My Fair Lady was one of the most eagerly anticipated productions of the 2017–2018 Broadway season, and Broadway Records’ Grammy-nominated cast album of the production captures the time-honored Lerner and Loewe score with sumptuous beauty. Nominated for a Grammy award, the album features indelible performances by Lauren Ambrose, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Norbert Leo Butz, preserved for posterity. Songs such as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” recall the melody and magic of the Golden Age of Broadway.
Once on This Island (Broadway Records)
Broadway Records produced one of the most glorious cast albums this year for the revival of Once on This Island. From the pristine sound quality to the exquisitely designed CD booklet, this Grammy-nominated cast recording is sure to please. The Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty score has never sounded better, with the revival’s original cast (including Hailey Kilgore, Lea Salonga, Alex Newell, Isaac Powell, Merle Dandridge, and Quentin Earl Darrington) bringing a zesty life to such songs as “Waiting for Life,” “Mama Will Provide,” “The Human Heart,” and “Why We Tell the Story.”
Frozen (Walt Disney Records)
The Broadway production of Disney’s animated film sensation Frozen has proven to be one of the biggest family shows of the last year. Walt Disney Records has released a cast album that includes many of those great Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez film songs, including “Let it Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, as well as the new numbers such as “Dangerous to Dream” and “True Love,” written especially for Broadway. Original cast members Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) bring their powerhouse voices to the cast recording.
Mean Girls (Atlantic)
Do you have a “Mean Girl” on your Christmas list, or maybe a fan of the Broadway musical? Atlantic Records has the perfect gift if you do. The Mean Girls original Broadway cast recording includes all the Tony-nominated songs of Jeff Richmond and Neil Benjamin’s score, not to mention the Queen Bee–caliber diva performances of Erika Henningsen, Taylor Louderman, Kate Rockwell, and Ashley Park.
Head Over Heels (Masterworks Broadway)
The music of the pop band The Go-Go’s and a 16th-century poem by Sir Philip Sidney come together to make the Broadway romantic comedy musical Head Over Heels. A catalog of ’80s hits, including “We Got the Beat,” “Vacation,” “Mad About You,” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth” are guaranteed to get you up and moving. The album, by Masterworks Broadway, features the original cast, led by Jeremy Kushnier and Rachel York.
Springsteen on Broadway (Sony)
An intimate concert with Bruce Springsteen in a Broadway theatre was apparently just what fans of his music were looking for. Springsteen on Broadway, which was originally a limited engagement, enjoyed several extensions, and The Boss was given a special Tony Award for his efforts. Sony Records recorded Springsteen on Broadway so fans can relive the experience again and again.
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (Republic Records)
Who doesn’t enjoy the groove and the beat of disco? The cast album of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical gives it to us in spades, with Republic Records preserving Broadway’s take on the story of the titular Queen of Disco. La Chanze, Ariana Debose, and Storm Lever share the pleasure of playing Summer, offering sizzling turns on such iconic songs as “Love to Love You Baby,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” and “Hot Stuff.”
Escape to Margaritaville (Mailboat Records)
It may not have been with us for the long haul, but audiences found humor and melody in the jukebox musical Escape to Margaritaville, inspired by the music of pop icon Jimmy Buffet. With songs such as “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” “Margaritaville,” “Volcano,” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” Mailboat Records has assembled a cast album for Escape to Margaritaville that feels like one big party.
Also of Note:
Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert (Sony Music Masterworks)
Rounding out the Grammy nominees in the category of Best Musical Theatre Album is Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert. The televised performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock musical classic starring John Legend, Brandon Victor Dixon, Sara Bareilles, and Alice Cooper enjoyed a large television audience and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special.
New York City Center’s concert series production of Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon was a highlight of 2018, with the superb vocal talents of Kelli O’Hara and Patrick Wilson giving new life to such song classics as “The Heather on the Hill,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” “There but for You Go I,” and “Waitin’ for My Dearie.” Ghoslight Records has given us a startlingly lush recording of breathtaking proportions.
2018 Tony Awards Season (Broadway Records)
For a sampler of the best of the 2017–2018 season, Broadway Records is on hand with the 2018 Tony Awards Season album. Not only do we get to hear songs from many of the musicals that came our way, but we also are given a unique taste of some of the original music composed for plays, including the revivals of Angels in America and Children of a Lesser God, not released elsewhere. The 2018 Tony Awards Season album is a great way to archive and celebrate a season of Broadway.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.