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BWW CD Reviews: FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL (Off-Broadway Cast Recording) is Bright, Bubbly, and Forgettable

FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL, produced by The Vital Theatre Company, opened Off-Broadway at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre in New York City on September 29, 2012. The popular production was extended twice. On November 24, 2012, it moved Downtown to The Culture Project and ran through April 28, 2013. Since it closed in New York, the musical adaption of Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glassner's popular book series went on a limited National Tour, and the musical is slated to return to the McGinn/Cazale Theatre on September 28, 2013.

FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL, with Book & Lyrics Susan DiLallo by and Music & Lyrics by Danny Abosch, tells the story of Fancy Nancy and her friends Bree, Rhonda, Wanda, and Lionel as they prepare to perform in their very first show, "Deep Sea Dances." Nancy is convinced she and Bree will be cast as the show's lead characters, the mermaids. When the cast is announced, Nancy is shocked when she finds out she is cast as a boring tree and not as a mermaid. She spends the remainder of the musical discovering that even a dull role like a tree can be turned into a fancy one.

Danny Abosch's Music is bright and bubbly, which is sure to capture the imagination of children listeners. Unfortunately, on this disc, the score sounds like canned computer generated music. It lacks the vivid liveliness that comes from recording live instrumentalists. This aspect of the recording is a sincere disappointment, and as I can find no information for a band or small orchestra in the liner notes, I can only assume that the live production also featured the electronic backing tracks for the vocalists too.

Susan DiLallo and Danny Abosch's Lyrics for the songs are mirthful and will easily appeal to young listeners. There is no doubt that the Fancy Nancy brand appeals more to young girls than boys; however, in the musical moments presented on the disc the duo does incorporate the character of Lionel as often as possible in an attempt to prove that being fancy and FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL isn't just for girls. Sadly, their work on the music and lyrics doesn't really stick with listeners. Whether it is the simplistic nature of the lyrics, the Apple GarageBand-esque score, or both, the music for FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL just isn't memorable.

Starring as Nancy, Alyson Bloom's vocals are cheerful and engaging. She does fantastic work portraying Nancy's plucky bravado throughout her numerous songs. Likewise, Darilyn Castillo as Bree, Tricia Giordano as Wanda, and Jes Dugger as Rhonda are cute and charming. Kyle Motsinger's Lionel is fun and ebullient, making his "Shark Rap" one of the most enjoyable moments on the album.

Amanda Savan as Mom perfectly sings the heartwarming and tender "You'll Always Be My Star," making it the absolute highlight of the album. Her rendition of this song is touching and evocative. It easily rises above the electronically played score and Amanda Savan excels at crafting a stirring experience for listeners of the album.

I find Children's Theatre to be a laudable necessity. Theatre enriches the lives of all it touches, so outings like this start that much needed nurturing of creativity early in life. However, the best Children's Theatre embraces the same production values and standards that make theatre for older audiences so magical and moving. It challenges the audience and changes them. I'm sot sure that FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL succeeds here. I think with live instrumentalists playing the score, letting go of gender definitions by asserting that the show is and can be for boys too, and creating songs and lyrics that children could rise to would make FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL's cast recording a delightful, tuneful gem that could be enjoyed by children and adults alike. As it stands, I can only recommend this recording to those who have enjoyed the performance in person or children who are fans of the Fancy Nancy books.

FANCY NANCY THE MUSICAL (Off-Broadway Cast Recording) was Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Ira Yuspeh at M&I Recording Studios, NYC during November 2012. Ghostlight Records released the album digitally on March 12, 2013, with physical copies being released on April 23, 2013. The album can be purchased from Ghostlight Records, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

For more information about the album, please visit For more information about FANCY NANCY The MUSICAL's return engagement in New York City, please visit

For information about other theatrical recording releases, click here.

Photo courtesy of Ghostlight Records.

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