The musical is the bread and butter of Broadway, and the 2010-2011 season has been an outstanding year for big traditional musicals as well as the smaller ensemble pieces. Both the loud and shocking and the subtle and sublime have truly shone this year. Below are some of the cast albums available for your listening pleasure -- and "pleasure" is an understatement!
Explicit, irreverent, and thoroughly hilarious, the new musical The Book of Mormon comes from the brilliantly demented minds of "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker with Robert Lopez, this outrageous show has taken Broadway by storm, and the carefully crafted music and lyrics are captured in the original Broadway cast album. There is a reason The Book of Mormon was nominated for 14 Tony Awards -- it is too funny for words.
The winner of the 2011 Tony for Best Revival, Anything Goes, now enjoys success on the Billboard charts with his much-lauded New Broadway Cast Album. The album featured the sensational singing of Tony winner Sutton Foster, the Puck-ish charm of Tony and Academy Award winner Joel Grey, and the velvety smooth tenor timbre of Colin Donnell. Also on the album are 2011 Tony nominee Adam Godley and Broadway starlet Laura Osnes. If you can't make it to the show in New Yorik, you must buy this album just to hear the incredible performances!
"Harry Potter" is all grown up and tripping the lights fantastic eight shows per week in Frank Loesser's Pulitzer Prize-winning show How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. This revival stars two Emmy Award wiinners -- TV icon John Larroquette and stage temptress Tammy Blanchard, both of whom were nominated for Tony Awards for their H2$ performances. Though Daniel Radcliffe was not nominated for a Tony, the cast album is rife with the cast's considerable talent and captures the essence of the show, the 1960's musical version of "Man Men."
The Scottsboro Boys was an Off-Broadway hit that made the big leap to the Great White Way, where the cast and music earned critical acclaim. The last Kander and Ebb show, Scottsboro Boys, recounts the true tale of nine African-American men falsely accused of a crime. The minimalist manner in which Susan Stroman portrayed the story on stage unnerved some, but the glory of the show is in the music and lyrics. Though Kander and Ebb's previous outings with dramatizing real-life events include the renowned Chicago and Cabaret, many feel Scottsboro Boys was their greatest work -- a perfect end to a legendary musical career.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is another quirky, atypical Broadway musical. Transferred from a foreign-language film to the stage was no mean feat for writer Jeffrey Lane and composer/lyricist David Yazbek. The cast album features the Tony-drenched ensemble cast that is practically a who's who of Broadway royalty, including Parri LuPone, Laura Benanti, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Danny Burstein. LuPone and Benanti were nominated for Tony Awards for their roles in this show, and the cast album reveals their remarkable talents in spades.
This new Broadway musical is based on the Tom Hanks/Leonardo diCaprio film of the same name. Catch Me If You Can features a book by Terrence McNally, music by Marc Shaiman (currently writing songs for Steven Spielberg's new TV show "Smash"), and lyrics by Scott Whitman. The musical works because of the inherent "suspension of belief" -- no mean feat considering the storyline is about an FBI agent tracking a criminal. With quintessential leading man Norbert Leo Butz leading the show, the musical truly comes alive, aided by the gorgeous voice of Aaron Tveit and knockout supporting actor Tom Wopat.
Based on the Academy Award-winning Australian film of the same name, Priscilla Queen of the Desert is an order of delectable sass and charm, supersized to a "feel good" confection of "entertainment for entertainment's sake" approach to the jukebox musical. An amalgam of Top 40 hits, the soundtrack of iconic pop music is interwoven with a storyline of love and acceptance. Produced by the Divine Miss M -- Bette Midler -- and featuring re-designs of the Academy Award-winning costumes, the show is a visual feast for the eyes, and the cast ablum is a barrage of toe-tapping fun.
Though the Broadway show was short-lived, the cast album allows the music to live on. Frank Wildhorn's newest Broadway venture, Wonderland, has an upbeat musical theatre/pop score with numerous showstoppers to delight the jazz hands crowd. From the colorful characters' feature solos to the "Knights" groovin' to help damsels in distress, Wonderland deserves to be heard and enjoyed. A show that is great for kids and adults, the Wonderland cast album is full of great songs that range from fun and quirky to downright belt-fabulous.
Based on the true story of music powerhouse Florence Greenberg, Baby It's You! was devised by Million Dollar Quartet creators Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott. A jukebox musical of famous tunes from the 1960's, the musical follows "Florence" as she discovers and nurtures the Shirelles to super-stardom. In a time when men ruled just about everthing, Baby It's You! shows one woman's determination to burst through the glass ceiling of the music industry -- and come out singing.
Notorius more for its bumps and bruises than its songs and dances, the folks at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark managed to record the cast album -- with no injuries to report. With a pop musical score by Bono and the Edge of U2, the show is set to officially open June 14, 2011. Order your cast album now -- if they haven't worked out all the kinks in the production, you may not get a chance to see the live show.
If you like your history served with rock star flair, then Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson will have you cracking the books and playing your air guitar before the second tune. Darker and smaller in scale than Rock of Ages, BBAJ certainly caught Off-Broadway audiences by surprise with its retelling of Andrew Jackson's life and career in a modernized, rock musical style rather than true to the period. The show features a book by Alex Timbers, music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, and the powerful vocals of its leading man, Benjamin Walker. With a perfectly saucy (and disgruntled) chorus, this cast album is packed with upbeat rock tunes you can sing along or workout to.