Album Review: THE MUSIC MAN (THE 2022 BROADWAY CAST RECORDING) Is A New Kind Of MUSIC MAN For A New Generation… Kind Of

New Stars, New Company With Some New Takes On An Old Chestnut … Kind Of

By: Oct. 06, 2022
Album Review: THE MUSIC MAN (THE 2022 BROADWAY CAST RECORDING) Is A New Kind Of MUSIC MAN For A New Generation… Kind Of
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Album Review: THE MUSIC MAN (THE 2022 BROADWAY CAST RECORDING) Is A New Kind Of MUSIC MAN For A New Generation… Kind Of

Heigh Ho, dear lovely rainbow tribe, Bobby Patrick, your rainbow reviewer is back in CD-Land to offer another broken-down breakdown of a new music release. So, strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.

So this week, dear Bobby readers, the brand new cast album of the all-new revival of THE MUSIC MAN, has hit the streams and CD purveyors and is ready for you all to give a listen. The production, starring the very Hugh Jackman and the even more very Sutton Foster, previewed last December and will take its final bow on New Year's Day 2023, clocking slightly more than 300+ performances in a full year's run. That's pretty respectable for a revival of an over-the-top with its Americana, howdy to you folks who live in the middle of the country, buggy ride of a show. It's not as many performances as the last revival that made it to the 700 mark or the original Mort DaCosta staging that's listed at 1375 shows in its 4-year run, but it certainly outstrips the 1980 Michael Kidd revival starring the beloved Dick Van Dyke that racked up 8 previews and only 21 performances (Bobby has to wonder what happened there?). Respectable is actually a good word to describe "The New" THE MUSIC MAN. In attempting to breathe some fresh air into the show, the producers and creatives made some choices, both artistic and financial, that were alternately designed to guarantee an audience while still taking some creative risks. First and foremost in the guaranteed column was the casting of the two stars - both of them gifted triple threats who have acted, sung, and danced their way to TONY awards. Both have also garnered enough fame in those "other mediums" to guarantee sufficient audience between them to clear the investment. What under 20-year-old doesn't want to watch Wolverine and that pretty lady from BUNHEADS in a musical? What over-50-year-old doesn't want to see THE MUSIC MAN because we saw the Robert Preston movie when we were kiddies? Adding these ingredients should have been a recipe for success, and it was, kind of. One year and 300ish performances, all during the ups and downs of the PAINdemic, and the for-profit-theatre falderal around replacements, understudies, standbys, and swings, and what you have is a middling success of a revival that would most likely never have left its mark without leaving behind a cast album.

This brings us to this new release. THE MUSIC MAN (THE 2022 BROADWAY CAST RECORDING) - produced by Robert Sher, whose uber sound booth production makes for an album with absolutely zero sense of the theatrical about it, will not abolish any memory of any recordings that have gone before, either of stage or film. Neither is it the "disaster" that TIkTok's armchair expert, young Finian Hackett (@fintothewoods) says it is. This new album is just merely another brick in THE MUSIC MAN's wall. It neither enthralls nor repels. The casting of mezzo belter Foster necessitated the revoicing of the high notes of her predecessors (super sopranos Barbara Cook & Rebbeca Luker) and there are those that have "history" with the show that will miss the delight of those kinds of trills. But then, on balance, Mr. Jackman, with his romantic tenor, finds his way to actually singing many more of the notes on the page than his predecessors (The Great Robert Preston & Craig Bierko) did in their time under the drum major's hat. For example, in TROUBLE (which Preston turned into an early ancestor of today's rap music & Bierko copied) Hugh has just as much fun running up and down the musical staff with some actual notes. The acting, by all concerned, both in the music and in the generous portions of the book dialogue included here, is naturally superb. Jayne Houdyshell (Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn), Jefferson Mays (Mayor Shinn), and Marie Mullen (Mrs. Paroo) are giving wonderfully comic performances, and we praise the choice to include so many of their talkie bits. The chemistry between Foster and Jackman is apparent in the recording and, so, must've been a delight to see live in the theatre. There are also moments when Foster does indeed call upon a heretofore almost unheard upper register over which she shows fine control. Also, the additional track of the cut barbershop quartet song, IT'S YOU, sung by the marvelous grouping of Phillip Boykin, Eddie Korbich, Daniel Torres, and Nicholas Ward is a real bonus and so is the extra extended cut of Jackman and Shuler Hensley's clowning fun on THE SADDER BUT WISER GIRL FOR ME.

Finally, one must consider this recording's influence out in the world. Since the first sound recordings of The Broadway Musicals were made, one of the groups most definitely impacted by them has been young people... Children even whose parents allowed them to wear out vinyl albums & tapes, or blow out speakers listening to EPs, etc to hear the best of Lloyd-Webber, Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, and Alan Menken. Herein the creators took care in the show to make needed alterations to remove some of the 1950s societal mindsets. Gone are the lyrics in SHIPOOPI about brazen young girls behaving badly, replaced by words that admonish young boys to learn some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Now, Bobby was one of those little queer boys out in the hinterlands gobbling up cast albums left and right, dancing about the living room and singing at the top of a weedy little voice. As such the omission of the taps from the additional finale music where, on stage, Foster and Jackman busted out their tap shoes, leaves the cut flat and dry. It is surprising, since producer Sher gave the world the cast album of SUGAR BABIES with loads and loads of Ann Miller's tappings, that he would just skip it for this one 2-minute/53-second cut. There will be no little'uns out there slapping their feet on the ground dreaming of creating those rhythms on the big stage - sad because as you all know "tappy make me happy." It is the children that carry the memories of these recordings with them forever and either become lifelong fans OR actual participants in the Broadway musical theatre. Will this recording be the sort that will create that foundation for the future? Sure, why not Bobby says if this is their MUSIC MAN, the first one that introduces them to the show - you bet. There is much that is praiseworthy here and only curmudgeons will turn away from it completely, and, as such, we must give this one ...

3 Out Of 5 Rainbows - Let Your Kids Hear This One & The Original & Decide For Themselves

Pick This One Up On Your Spotifies: HERE

Learn All About This New Production On The Webbysite: HERE


To post a comment, you must register and login.

Vote Sponsor