From Broadway to Film to Encores!
One of Jule Styne's most famous musicals, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a feast for the ears with its classic American musical show tunes and dance numbers. The show features Lyrics penned by Leo Robin with a Book by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos, who wrote the novel on which the show was based.
Styne's music and Don Walker's original orchestral arrangements are lush and tell the story even when the outstanding singers are silent. The Lyrics are not as interesting as a Sondheim composition and occasionally border on outright silliness, but some of them actually elicit a smile.
Set in 1924, the plot of two women looking for happiness in material possessions may not sit well with modern feminists. "Lorelei" and "Dorothy" set sail for Paris in the hopes of landing a rich husband -- and liquor -- before they return stateside. While in Paris, they run in to "Gloria," a chorus girl from the Follies, and together they set their plan in action, only to find real love along the way.
This production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a special presentation during Encores! 2011-2012 season. While not a Broadway production, the show featured enough star power to warrant an extension and this cast album, under the Music Direction of Rob Berman.
Hot off the heels of her star turn in NBC's "SMASH", Megan Hilty takes on the role of "Lorelei," the blonde half of a pair of husband-hunting women. "Lorelei" was first made famous on Broadway by the legendary Carol Channing and then immortalized on celluloid by Marilyn Monroe. Taking on the Jane Russell/"Dorothy" character is Rachel York, a statuesque, throatier foil to the shorter, breathier Hilty.
Some of the well-known songs from this production include "A Little Girl from Little Rock," "Bye Bye Baby," "I Love What I'm Doing," and "I'm A-Tingle, I'm A-Glow," and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," made famous by Monroe in the film.
To their credit, neither York nor Hilty attempt strict impersonations of these famous roles. One can only imagine the difficulty Hilty had with her angle since the role of "Lorelei" was played by two very distinct icons, the effervescent Channing then the sensuous Monroe. Both York and Hilty show wit and ease with their vocal delivery and comedic timing. York is careful not to cop too much of Russell's sardonic edge, and Hilty is not afraid to belt where Monroe was not able to.
The main cast is superbly supported by Clarke Thorell, Aaron Lazar, Stephen R. Buntrock, and Simon Jones, with a large ensemble cast rounding out this well-cast production.
Overall, this cast album is a tribute to the Golden Age of musicals, when producers were not afraid to put money into a show. Encores! investment is obvious not only in the high caliber vocal performers but also in the musicians in the pit. This cast album for Encores! production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes absolutely deserves a place in the collection of any musical lover.
1. Overture - Orchestra
2. It's High Time - Rachel York and Ensemble
3. Bye Bye Baby - Clark Thorell and Megan Hilty
4. A Little Girl from Little Rock - Megan Hilty
5. A Little Girl from Little Rock: Encore - Megan Hilty
6. I Love What I'm Doing - Rachel York
7. I Love What I'm Doing (Dance) - Orchestra
8. Just a Kiss Apart - Aaron Lazar
9. Scherzo - Orchestra
10. It's Delightful Down In Chile - Simon Jones, Megan Hilty, and Ensemble
11. Sunshine - Aaron Lazar and Rachel York
12. Park Scene - Ensemble
13. Pas De Deux - Orchestra
14. Sunshine: Reprise - Ensemble
15. I'm A' Tingle, I'm A' Glow - Stephen R. Buntrock, Rachel York, Megan Hilty, and Deborah Rush
16. You Say You Care - Rachel York and Aaron Lazar
17. Finale Act 1 - Megan Hilty and Ensemble
18. Mamie is Mimi - Phillip Attmore, Jared Grimes, Megan Sikora, and Ensemble
19. Coquette - Michael Marcotte
20. Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend - Megan Hilty
21. Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend: First Encore - Megan Hilty
22. Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend: Second Encore - Megan Hilty
23. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Megan Hilty and Clarke Thorell
24. Homesick Blues - Megan Hilty, Rachel York, Clarke Thorell, Aaron Lazar, Deborah Rush, and Stephen R. Buntrock
25. Keeping Cool With Coolidge - Rachel York, Deborah Rush, and Ensemble
26. Button Up With Esmond - Megan Hilty and Ensemble
27. Finale Act 2 - Megan Hilty, Clarke Thorell, and Ensemble