BWW Album Review: CAROLS FOR A CURE VOLUME 20 Brings Back Old Favorites for a Spectacular Collection of Holiday Songs
Of the many traditions and events that occur during Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids' twice yearly collection periods, one of the sweetest and subtlest is the annual Carols For a Cure compilation album. The recent release marks the twentieth anniversary of the tradition, where the casts of a variety of currently running Broadway shows record a special holiday song to be included on the album. As with every Broadway Cares/Equity Fight Aids fundraiser, all proceeds from the sales of the album goes to the organization's charitable endeavors.
Since this year's is the twentieth volume of Carols For a Cure, the album includes ten bonus tracks of songs from previous Carols For a Cure albums as well as eighteen new songs from current Broadway casts. The returning tracks include "Love is Christmas," from the 2016 cast of Waitress, "!Vengen!," from the 2010 cast of In the Heights, "Christmas Cinderella," from the 2014 cast of Cinderella, "What Child Is This?" from the 2007 cast of Spring Awakening, and several others.
On the eighteen new tracks, some casts make the distinct choice to restyle a carol into the musical style of their show. The cast of Once on This Island presents a mash-up of "Deck the Halls" and "Carol of the Bells," with a noticeable reggae beats that echoes the mood of many of the show's songs. They even sneak in a line from one of the show's most memorable songs, "Waiting for Life," though it slips in seamlessly with the other two songs. The current cast of Come From Away went for a similar take, performing "The Seven Joys of Mary," with only vocals and a drum beat, calling to mind the style of the music in the show with the rich and full harmonies.
The cast of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical opened the album with a disco take on "Winter Wonderland," a genre-blend that works so well that you almost forget that the classic holiday song doesn't always have a disco beat behind it. The current Broadway cast of Kinky Boots was particularly clever in discovering that the chord progression of the show's number, "Step One," works perfectly underneath the tune to the holiday classic, "O Christmas Tree." Similar to Once on This Island, they also slipped in a reference to their own lyrics, singing, "You're not just a Christmas tree/You're part of our Kinky family."
Not every show chose to match the feel of their carol to the style of their score, however. The current cast of Hamilton provided a jazzy rendition of the lesser-known holiday tune, "On This Christmas Night," which was a departure from the show famous for its rapid-fire raps.
There are plenty of uplifting tunes on the album, making it a great listening choice for musical theatre loving families. If the song of sisterly devotion presented by the cast of Frozen, "When We're Together," sounds like it could almost fit right in with the show, it's because the song is actually originally from a Disney short film called Olaf's Frozen Adventure, that was released soon after the initial craze of the Frozen film. Particularly notable for its message is "Head Over Holidays," sung by the cast of Head Over Heels. The tune features lyrics like, "It doesn't matter when or why, or how you might identify," and implores listeners to remember that love is "what the holidays are all about."
Combining new renditions of holiday classics and returning tunes from past compilations, Carols for a Cure Volume 20 provides something for every Broadway fan to love this holiday season. Add in the fact that all of the proceeds from sales go to charity, and Carols for a Cure is truly a perfect holiday tradition.