Album Review: Concord Theatricals Recordings Releases The Studio Cast Recording of 17 AGAIN

Those Glory Days Relived in Real Time …

By: Feb. 21, 2024
Album Review: Concord Theatricals Recordings Releases The Studio Cast Recording of 17 AGAIN
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Album Review: Concord Theatricals Recordings Releases The Studio Cast Recording of 17 AGAIN Heigh Ho, dear lovely rainbow tribe, welcome back to Bobby’s CD sandbox where we offer our broken-down breakdowns of new music releases. So, strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.

This week’s album entry in the BobbyFiles comes from the fabulous treasure trove that is Concord Theatricals. Late last year they released their Studio Cast Recording of Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner’s heartfelt and funny musical 17 AGAIN. Now, before your eyes roll out of your head with the certain knowledge that, yes this “musical” is yet ANOTHER movie with Broadway aspirations, and that it is indeed an adaptation of the 2009 Zac Efron/Matthew Perry “BIG-In-Reverse” schlockbuster of the same title (and all you Broadway nerds, like Bobby, point out that a failed musical was also made from the Tom Hanks HIT), allow us to take you on a little tour of the CD and give you some assurances that this release is a worthy endeavor. TBH my lambs, Bobby never saw the film from which this show is adapted because, well… we saw both stage and screen versions of BIG, as well as the 1980s film comedy 18 AGAIN, where the adorable George Burns body swaps with his even more adorable grandson played by the adorable Charlie Schlatter, and it was … adorable. We saw no reason to take ourselves to the cinema or to stream this Zac Efron vehicle because we saw the trailer and we got all we needed. Some dude in his 30s (Perry) lost his big basketball game back in high school and is spending his adult days regretting how his life turned out. Naturally, he is given a magic do-over so he can learn that he should appreciate the life (kids, wife) he has, and not live a life of regret, or he will regret it… Sugar and spice and all things Oy Gevalt! 

It has been a long road for 17 AGAIN: THE MUSICAL which has been in development almost since its Movie-Daddy’s release. It received its initial industry reading in 2015 and, then, a developmental lab production directed by HAIRSPRAY director/choreographer, Adam Shankman, in 2016. With music and lyrics by Zachary & Weiner and a book by Marco Pennette (UGLY BETTY, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, MOM) the show had its world premiere in Kyoto Japan in 2021. But, for this new album, the producers have assembled a top-drawer American cast featuring Eden Espinosa, Drew Gehling, Casey Likes, Bryce Pinkham, Alan H. Green, and Ann Harada, all of whom bring some pretty terrific vocals to the recording booth. Kicking off the album with THE STAR OF KENNEDY HIGH, we begin in the past, where Young Mike (Casey Likes) must make the big basketball game his biggest ever, as there is a scout in the crowd. The vocals are solid, especially Alan H. Green as coach. We learn Mike was the STAR, as well as best friends with water boy Ned (the nerd). This is a cool opening number that gives us the whole setup - all the exposition. Everything rides on this moment for Young Mike when his girlfriend, Scarlett (D’Kaylah Unique Whitley), delivers the blow that blows the game for them all, and it’s all right here, in one song, with some cool beats and lyrics, to boot. This is followed quickly by HAPPY FAMILY, as we zip to the present where 35-year-old Mike & Scarlett (Espinosa & Gehling) give this bouncy tune its upbeat feel, despite the dark lyrics about reaching a dead-end in life lalalala. Scarlett is suffocating in her own home, and as the kids (Mallory Bechtel & Will Roland) join in, the “happy family” is really coming apart. With TIME FOR STARTING OVER, Espinosa’s Scarlett sings her pain. This is THE song of the show for Little Bobby’s money, and  Eden’s voice is made for this kind of delicious schmaltz. Filled with her heart’s regret, she does not want her marriage to end, but it is already over, as far as she can see, and it’s a fabulous song in her fabulous voice.

Scarlett’s best friend, Naomi (the irrepressible Ann Harada), gets the novelty number late in Act I - MAKE THE MOST OF TONIGHT - a tune with a danceable Bosa Nova beat and Harada’s belt. She is truly the inescapable best friend of the leading lady, trying to get her to go out and have some fun. Speaking of the obligatory “best friend,” Brice Pinkham picks up Ned where Will Roland left off, and gets a funny novelty duet in Act II with TRA LA LA, where Ned and Principal Masterson (Carly Hughes) romance one another. Ned the Nerd expresses his nerd love for nerdy Principal Masterson through a clever number incorporating titles from Tolkien, Lucas, & Roddenberry. It is the best of the worst and, while hokey, it is just plain fun.

In the end, this score is pleasant, tuneful, and mostly well-written in music and lyrics. Nothing and no one is trying to make musical theatre history with 17 AGAIN - it is just a pleasant bit of magical realism marshmallow fluff that, while cloying only occasionally, is pretty tasty overall. The album and its producers get major points because the show, as a whole, is very well represented throughout, and one does not have to know anything about the show before a first listen to get what’s going on. Happily, there is a very colorful album booklet that includes the lyrics to each song, a full argument of the play to fill in any blanks, cast list, song list, and all the things to make this a nice addition to your musical theatre library. Also, for Bobby’s little performers out there in the hinterlands, there are some cool audition song candidates in this score. So, all in all, we really enjoyed our time going back to high school with 17 AGAIN and give this one a solid … 

3 ¾  Out Of 5 Rainbows

Fish This One Out Of The Amazon: HERE

Link To All Player & Social Platforms: HERE

Read/Download The CD Booklet: HERE

You Can Read Everything About 17 AGAIN On The Concord Webbysite: HERE

Album Review: Concord Theatricals Recordings Releases The Studio Cast Recording of 17 AGAIN