2017 AWARDS SEASON
Click Here for More Articles on 2017 AWARDS SEASON

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast Recordings

Happy Tonys season BroadwayWorld! Is your CD collection and iPod Tonys ready? The big show-the 71th annual Tony Awards-is just over 24 hours away! Naturally, New York City and theatre fans across the world are excitedly buzzing about this year's ceremonies, which will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 8/7c on CBS. As always, this Broadway season has some exciting contenders in the musical categories, and to get you ready for the big night, I'm recapping the albums you should be listening to (or at least pre-ordering).

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsAMÉLIE, A NEW MUSICAL (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Unfortunately, the show earned no nominations. While I missed the show on Broadway, the bubbly score was recorded. Listening to the album, the music and lyrics are simple and pleasing, but lack that oomph that often makes musicals unforgettable. Everything on the album is too modest and too sweet. While emphasizing the importance of dreaming, this sleepy show is more a lullaby than an exciting bedtime story. Parlophone Records released the album digitally on May 19, 2017. It can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. Physical copies will be released on June 9, and can be preordered from Amazon.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsANASTASIA (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

The show earned two nominations: Mary Beth Peil for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical and Linda Cho for Best Costume Design of a Musical. The show is currently running on Broadway, but I have yet to see it. I remember the music from the film fondly, but I know that the stage version features new characters and new tunes. Of the music and show itself, New York Times critic Brantley writes, "Those without such nostalgic insulation [for the film] are likely to find this 'Anastasia' a chore." Broadway Records released the album on June 9. It can be purchased from their web store, iTunes, and Amazon.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsBANDSTAND (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

The show earned two nominations: Andy Blankenbuehler for Choreography and Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen for Best Orchestrations. I haven't seen this show yet, so I have not had a chance to experience this original score. If any show felt like it should be a jukebox musical, it was this one. So, it's a wonderful surprise that it is not a jukebox musical. Frank Rizzo of Variety describes the music as "mood-setting, pleasant and easily forgettable." Broadway Records will release the album on June 23. It currently can only be preordered from their web store.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsA BRONX TALE (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Sadly, this show earned no nominations, but it's still enjoying a healthy Broadway run. This new score from Alan Menken is a toe-tapping delight. This musical feels like HAIRSPRAY fell in love with JERSEY BOYS and birthed a musical that is related to LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. While it may not carry the grit and darkness that some expect from a musical based on Chazz Palminteri's one-man show, the musical leaves audiences entertained and sends them out of the theater feeling uplifted. Ghostlight Records released the album digitally on March 24 and physically on May 12. It can be purchased from their web store, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsCATS (1982 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

With a revival that is so reminiscent of the original Broadway production, it was not a surprise that the nominators overlooked this show. The music in the current version sounds like it did when I first experienced the show as a child watching PBS. It sounds like the tours that came through Houston. So, what does that really mean? It means that the music sounds like signature Andrew Lloyd Webber. It's entertaining, but not really substantive. It's entertainment for the sake of being entertaining. The Really Useful Group first released the album in 1983. It can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sole.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsCHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Slammed by most of the critics, this show earned no nominations. The musical, which is not truly an adaptation of the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, does incorporate the stand out songs from the film in its score. Christian Borle offers an earnest rendition of "The Candy Man," Ryan Sell's voice is grating on "I've Got a Golden Ticket," John Rubinstein's verses as Grandpa Joe on "I've Got a Golden Ticket" are palatable and enthusiastic, and Borle's version of "Pure Imagination" while sung with technical precision lacks richness and depth. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's original scoring for the show is underwhelming at best. The new songs and lyrics pale in comparison to the reorchestrated compositions of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Masterworks Broadway released the album digitally on June 2. It can be purchased from their web store, iTunes, and Amazon. Physical copies will be released on June 23 and can be preordered from their web store and Amazon.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsCirque du Soleil PARAMOUR (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

The first musical to open this season, Cirque du Soleil's PARAMOUR wasn't looking for nominations, and it is no true shock that they didn't get any. The music wasn't as whimsical as music they have written for their other shows, and the lyrics were beyond simple. Yet, the earnest performances from the cast made the music satisfactory during live shows. The score and lyrics also wove a decent tapestry for the eye-popping acrobatics and other stunts that occurred during the production. Cirque du Soleil released the album digitally on August 26, 2016 and physically on September 16, 2016. It can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsCOME FROM AWAY (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

The show earned seven nominations: Best Musical, Jenn Colella for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, Irene Sankoff and David Hein for Best Book of a Musical, Sankoff and Hein for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre, Howell Binkley for Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Christopher Ashley for Best Direction of a Musical, and Kelly Devine for Choreography. While I haven't seen this show yet, the score is one of my favorites in recent memory. The music is uplifting, enthusiastic, rich, multifaceted, emotional, and powerful. Each member in this ensemble cast performs brilliantly on the album, and Colella's "Me and the Sky" may be one of the best songs ever captured on a cast recording. The Musical Company released the album digitally on March 10 and physically on March 24. It can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsDEAR EVAN HANSEN (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

The show earned nine nominations: Best Musical, Ben Platt for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Mike Faist for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, Rachel Bay Jones for Best Performance by an Actress in a Feature Role in a Musical, Steven Levenson for Best Book of a Musical, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre, Japhy Weideman for Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Michael Greif for Best Direction of a Musical, and Alex Lacamoire for Best Orchestrations. Platt set the golden standard for performances from lead actors this season, and I'm certain he'll win the award. This album beautifully and perfectly captures his brilliant and masterful performance, giving people who can't score a ticket a chance to at least partially experience his awe-inspiring work. The rest of the cast rises to his occasion, and their energy is captured on this album as well. Atlantic Records released the album digitally on February 3 and physically on February 24. It can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsFALSETTOS (2016 Broadway Cast Recording)

The show earned five nominations: Rest Revival of a Musical, Christian Borle for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Andrew Rannells for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, Brandon Uranowitz for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, and Stephanie J. Block for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. I'm rooting for Stephanie J. Block to take home the Tony for this show. Buy this album and listen to her performance on "I'm Breaking Down," and you'll understand why. Likewise, this album is a sterling capture of this cast, their emotional performances, and the only complete recording of this score. Ghostlight Records released the album digitally on December 16, 2016 and physically on January 27. It can be purchased from their web store, iTunes, Amazon, an elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsGROUNDHOG DAY, THE MUSICAL (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

This show earned seven nominations: Best Musical, Andy Karl for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Danny Rubin for Best Book for a Musical, Tim Minchin for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre, Rob Howell for Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Matthew Warchus for Best Direction of a Musical, and Peter Darling and Ellen Kane for Best Choreography. A musical inspired by the 1993 Bill Murray vehicle seemed like a strange choice, but Minchin's multi-faceted score and smartly constructed lyrics make the piece shine. Karl won an Olivier Award for this role in London, and he delivers in New York City too. Despite all of this, I won't be surprised if the show walks away from the Tony's empty handed. The competition appears to be stacked against them in every category. Broadway Records released the album digitally on April 21 and physically on May 12. It can be purchased from their web store, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsHELLO, DOLLY! (New Broadway Cast Recording)

Making it the most nominated revival this season, this show earned 10 nominations: Best Revival of a Musical, David Hyde Pierce for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Bette Midler for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, Gavin Creel for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, Kate Baldwin for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, Santo Loquasto for Best Scenic Design of a Musical. Loquasto for Best Costume Design of a Musical, Jerry Zaks for Best Direction of a Musical, and Larry Hochman for Best Orchestrations. Midler's vocals, though aged, delight on the album, and she seems likely to win the coveted Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role award. Creel and Baldwin sparkle with charm too, and I predict Creel may take home a trophy for his work here. This revival truly makes Broadway dream casting a reality. Masterworks Broadway released the album digitally and physically on May 12. It can be purchased from their web store, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsHOLIDAY INN, THE NEW Irving Berlin MUSICAL (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

This show earned one nomination: Denis Jones for Best Choreography. The album features dazzling dance breaks, an effervescent orchestra, and shimmering vocals from the cast. Sadly, I missed this show on Broadway, but the cast album is vibrant and fun. As a collection of Irving Berlin's greatest hits, there are no surprises on the album, but it's still fun to get lost in the glitz and glamour of Berlin's energetic dance pieces and get wrapped up in the lush melodies of his ballads. Ghostlight Records released the album digitally on June 2. It can be purchased from iTunes Physical copies will be released on July 21 and can be preordered from their web store and Amazon.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsIN TRANSIT (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Oddly, this show earned no nominations. Making history as Broadway's first a cappella musical, I figured that the score and/or vocal orchestrations would have at least gotten a nod for being inventive and original. Following the success of Fox's Glee, Pitch Perfect, and Pitch Perfect 2, the music on the album sounds like it would be perfectly at home if it was performed on any of these. So, despite being Broadway's first experiment with a cappella, the score simply doesn't sound novel. That doesn't mean that the songs aren't fun, but they do all start to sound the same. The repetitive nature of an a cappella score when not filled with recognizable pop standards actually gets tiresome. You can only hear so much human beatbox before you want to change CDs. Hollywood Records released the album digitally on April 28. It can be purchased from iTunes. Physical copies will be released on July 21 and can be preordered from Amazon.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsMISS SAIGON: The Definitive Live Recording (2014 London Cast Recording)

This show earned two nominations: Best Revival of a Musical and Eva Noblezada for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. Best known for landing a helicopter on a Broadway stage eight times a week, this visually stunning revival is giving audiences everything they expect from the title. Seeing the show in performance, I expected Jon Jon Briones would be a shoe-in for a Tony nomination, but he was overlooked by the committee. If you can't get to the Broadway Theatre to see this cast, you can enjoy hearing the leads from when they were recorded live in London. I doubt this production will walk away with any Tonys, but that doesn't diminish the sweeping and epic nature of this anthemic score. Verve originally released the album on November 10, 2014. The album can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsNATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Making it the most nominated show of the season period, this musical earned a whopping 12 nominations: Best Musical, Josh Groban for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Denée Benton for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, Lucas Steele for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, Dave Malloy for Best Book of a Musical, Malloy for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre, Mimi Lien for Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Paloma Young for Best Costume Design of a Musical, Bradley King for Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Rachel Chavkin for Best Direction of Musical, Sam Pinkleton for Best Choreography, and Malloy for Best Orchestrations. If I could have it my way, this show would win all 12 of the awards it is nominated for; however, I predict we'll see it take home awards for set design, costume design, light design, and orchestrations. The score is brilliant in how many genres it seamlessly fits into one cohesive, vastly enjoyable, and deeply intoxicating show. With THE GREAT COMET, Malloy has proven himself to be quite the musical theater genius, and I can only hope that he will have a long and illustrious career creating exciting new pieces for the theater. Reprise Records released the album digitally and physically on May 19. It can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsSUNSET BOULEVARD (American Premiere Recording)

Despite Glenn Close reviving her Tony-Award winning role as Norma Desmond, this show featured some changed elements; therefore, it's surprising that this show earned no nominations. The score is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most prized compositions, and audiences have loved it for decades. Nothing beats seeing Close perform these songs live and in person, but the American Premiere Recording is a close second. Give the album a spin, you'll never regret that you heard Close sing "The Perfect Year," "As If We Never Said Goodbye," and the other songs. Close is sublimely hypnotic when playing Norma Desmond. The Really Useful Group originally released the album in 1994, and it can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsWAR PAINT (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

This show earned four nominations" Christine Ebersole for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, Patti LuPone for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, David Korins for Best Scenic Design of a Musical, and Catherine Zuber for Best Costume Design of a Musical. This new score sounds so similar to Scott Frankel's work for GREY GARDENS. The same is true for Michael Korie's lyrics. However, no one experiencing the show (whether in person or on the album) cares about that. They simply want LuPone and Ebersole at their best, and that is exactly what they get. Dueting on "If I'd Been a Man," both women enchant. LuPone is dazzling on "Now You Know" and "Forever Beautiful." Yet, Ebsersole's "Pink" stands as the show's most beautiful and spectacular moment on the album. Ghostlight Records released the album digitally on May 26. It can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. Physical copies will be released on July 14 and can be preordered from their web store and Amazon.

BONUS ALBUMS:

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast Recordings2017 TONY AWARD SEASON

Featuring specially commissioned artwork by Justin "Squigs" Robertson, this compilation album celebrates the best of Broadway's current season. Each musical from the 2016-2017 season, including the 2017 Tony nominated musicals, were invited to contribute a song to this album. Fans of musical theater voted for track selections too. Also, a portion of the proceeds from the album will go to the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League's arts educations initiatives. Broadway Records released the album on June 9. It can be ordered from their web store.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsSUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (2017 Broadway Cast Recording)

Despite the show's producers withdrawing this production from the Tony race, it is included in my round up because the music and cast were enjoyable and entertaining in performance. Jake Gyllenhaal's "Finishing the Hat" and Annaleigh Ashford's performance as Dot will be Broadway memories I cherish. The album is anticipated to be released by Warner Music Group later this summer. Keep your eyes on BroadwayWorld for more information as we get it.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsDREAMGIRLS (Original London Cast Recording)

Get a jump start on next year's Tony race by taking a listen to this album. Amber Riley-you know, the one you actually liked hearing sing the house down on Glee-stars as Effie White. The album is recorded live from the Savoy, so every raw emotion is pristinely captured. Because this is a live recording, there are some modulations, scoops, and slides that may offend your ears if you only live for the studio recording of this score. And, yes, you do have to deal with cheers and applause from the audience, but the performances have such energy that you'll probably be cheering and applauding too. The album was released by Masterworks Broadway on May 12. It can be purchased from their web store, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

BWW Tonys Special: Ultimate Guide to This Season's Cast RecordingsGYPSY (2015 London Cast Recording) & GYPSY (Blu-Ray or DVD)

This imported production from London, starring Imelda Staunton as Mama Rose, has its eyes on Broadway bows in 2018. And, I hope we see it happen. After all, the album and the subsequent Blu-Ray release were my first experiences with this beloved classic, and I fell in love with the show. Staunton joins the luminaries who have put their own signatures Mama Rose. For me, she performs with a heartfelt zeal that makes her Mama initially intimidating but ultimately heartbreaking. The album was released digitally on April 27, 2015 and physically on May 5, 2015. It can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold. The DVD and Blu-Ray were released by Shout! Factory on November 1, 2016 and can be purchased from their web store, Amazon, and elsewhere movies are sold.

What Do You Think? Tell Us In The Comments!


Related Articles

From This Author David Clarke

Before you go...