BWW CD Reviews: Ghostlight Records' A SECOND CHANCE (Original Cast Recording) Jazzes Life's Hardships

BWW CD Reviews: Ghostlight Records' A SECOND CHANCE (Original Cast Recording) Jazzes Life's Hardships
Cover art courtesy of Ghostlight Records.

Recently, I've come to embrace the idea that a life well lived is filled with its fair share of second chances and new beginnings. For Ted Shen's A SECOND CHANCE audiences were introduced to Dan, a grieving widower, and Jenna, a divorcée. Both are living in crisis, filled with uncertainty about what the future has in store for them. A SECOND CHANCE opened to mixed reviews at the Public Theater, and now Ghostlight Records has released the schmaltzy jazz musical's original cast recording, which is worth listening to.

Ted Shen has written the book, music, and lyrics for A SECOND CHANCE, showcasing his multifaceted skills of creation. However, the music for the show is my least favorite part of the recording. With a background in jazz music, he studied songwriting with Ricky Ian Gordon for two years. This knowledge pervades the air on the album, but the aural landscape is so homogenously jazz from beginning to end that it sounds repetitive. The meaty heart of the disc is Ted Shen's gorgeously constructed lyrics, which take an effort to listen to once the novelty of a jazz musical wears thin.

Ted Shen's lyrics are beautifully introspective and well crafted. In listening to them, as sung by Brian Sutherland's Dan and Diane Sutherland's Jenna, the emotionality of them reverberates within the heart, impacting and moving listeners with their deft poignancy. We feel the fears of the protagonists, we're stirred by their budding romance, we see the magic of a New York City snowfall, and we discover that life always offers a second chance when we least expect it. The lyrics are glittery sentimentality and honest grit at their finest, making A SECOND CHANCE (Original Cast Recording) an interesting listen.

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David Clarke David Clarke has had a lifelong love and passion for the performing arts, and has been writing about theatre both locally and nationally for years. He joined running their Houston site in early 2012 and began writing as the site's official theatre recording critic in June of 2013.

Photo by Greg Salvatori.