BWW CD Reviews: Original Cast Records' NOËL COWARD OFF THE RECORD Is a Gem for Scholars and Noël Coward Fans
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Noël Coward left an inedible mark on the world of theatre with his hit plays, musicals, operettas, and revues. His expansive work is studied and revered by scholars, many of whom can trace elements of modern theatrical experiences back to his brand of "wit, satire, and sentiment." Sharing this brand, Original Cast Records' release of Steve Ross' NOËL COWARD OFF THE RECORD takes listeners on a musical journey through Noël Coward's lesser-known repertoire.
With glee, Steve Ross welcomes listeners to NOËL COWARD OFF THE RECORD by letting us know that the songs collected on this disc are being recorded for the first time and by reminding us that "even B-List Noël Coward isn't half bad." To be honest, it's not. However, it's not wholly fascinating either for those of us who aren't diehard Noël Coward fans.
The ditties on the album are spry, bouncing along with vigor. The sly lyrics are full of panache. The melodies are quaint reminders of the musical stylings of the popular theatrical tunes from 1917 through the mid-1950s. As listeners move from song to song, Steve Ross stops along the way to discuss how Noël Coward progressed as an artist or to give historical insight into the selection of tunes picked for the album. All of these elements truly serve to make NOËL COWARD OFF THE RECORD a gem in the collection of a theatrical scholar or Noël Coward fan.
With gusto, Steve Ross sings many of the tracks with tangible energetic pizzazz. Jeanne Lehman, who sings with authority and appealing control, joins him on the album. Likewise, Lisa Reigel steps in for some of the tracks, sharing her dulcet vocals with listeners. Lastly, Edward Hibbert charms with his rendition of "We've Got the Country at the Corner of the Street," which is a dark and nicely satiric handling of the post-World War II life of working class Londoners.