**Blue Man Group continues its run at the Briar Street Theater ( 773/348-4000 )
I'm going to be very sorry if, as some people are saying, the compact disc is on its way out of circulation. One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about CD technology is the way that long out of print albums have been given another chance ( sometimes enhanced ) on disc.
Take the original cast recording of Now Is The Time For All Good Men ( DRG/Columbia Masterworks ) . Written by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford ( of I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road fame ) , Now Is The Time debuted off-Broadway in 1967, when the Broadway musical was more up for grabs than ever. With more than a dozen traditional compositions ( as well as way-out songs such as 'Stuck-Up' ) , Cryer and Ford created a musical about controversial subjects, include freethinking and freedom of expression in middle America during the 1960s that sounded like it belonged on Broadway.
Two cast recording reissues feature operatic Broadway diva Barbara Cook. With music by the late Albert Hague ( Fame, How The Grinch Stole Christmas ) , Plain and Fancy ( DRG/ Capitol ) , which opened on Broadway in 1955, deals with a subject that continues to be a source of fascination to this day. The book, by Joseph Stein and Will Glickman, tells the story of an urban couple who pays a visit to an Amish community in Pennsylvania, and the affect that it has on all involved. The other is Candide ( Columbia Broadway Masterworks/Sony Classical/Legacy ) , 'a comic operetta based on Voltaire's satire,' which opened on Broadway in 1956, a year after Plain and Fancy With the book by Lillian Hellman ( ! ) , music by Leonard Bernstein ( !! ) and lyrics by poet Richard Wilbur ( !!! ) , the reissue boasts new liner notes by Ms. Cook, and the classic 'Glitter and Be Gay.'
The above mentioned Mr. Hague also wrote the music to Redhead ( Fynsworth Alley/ BMG ) , the original Broadway cast recording of which has been reissued to include two unused trunk songs from the show ( the duet 'You Love I' sung by Jennifer Piech and Mark Price and 'What Has She Got?' performed by Faith Prince ) , as well as Liz Callaway's rendition of 'It Doesn't Take A Minute,' a song that was cut from the show in a pre-Broadway production in New Haven. Redhead, a musical murder mystery, is also notable for being another in a string of collaborations between leading lady Gwen Verdon and boyfriend director and choreographer Bob Fosse.
More than 50 years apart, the musicals Carmen Jones ( Decca Broadway ) and St. Louis Woman ( Decca Broadway ) made an impact on the stages of New York. Opening on Broadway in late 1943, Oscar Hammerstein II's contemporary adaptation of Bizet's Carmen was a groundbreaking theatrical event. 'Restored from the original lacquer glass discs,' the CD reissue of Carmen Jones includes two songs, 'You Talk Just Like My Maw' and 'De Cards Don't Lie,' which were deleted from the LP and cassette editions of the cast recording, as well as the bonus track 'Beat Out Dat Rhythm On A Drum.' The 1998 Original New York Cast Recording of St. Louis Woman, starring Vanessa L. Williams, was part of the City Center Encores! Great American Musicals In Concert series. With music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, and book by Arna Bontemps and Countee Cullen ( based on Bontemps's novel God Sends Sunday ) , St. Louis Woman contains such notable Arlen and Mercer tunes as 'Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home,' 'I Had Myself A True Love,' and 'Come Rain or Come Shine.' .
Lorna Dallas plays Anna in Anna Karenina: The Audio Musical ( LML Music ) , 'a new journey into melody and harmonybased on the novel by Leo Tolstoy.' Composer and lyricist Ralph Chicorel, who counts the concept musical Great Expectations and the stage musical Jean ( about Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch ) among his credits, should be commended for tackling such unusual subjects.
Maury Yeston is also known for his unique choices in the subject matter. The movies, for instance, inspired Yeston to craft Nine ( based on Fellini's 8 1/2 ) and Grand Hotel ( based on the dramatic film of the same name ) . His musical Titanic opened on Broadway the same year that the movie broke all sorts of box office records. Sixteen of the best and brightest performers on Broadway pay homage to Yeston on The Maury Yeston Songbook ( P S Classics ) . Thoroughly Modern Millie's Sutton Foster performs 'I Want To Go To Hollywood' ( from Grand Hotel ) , Betty Buckley does December Songs' 'I Had A Dream About You' ( accompanied by John McDaniel on piano ) , Brent Barrett sings 'New Words' ( from In The Beginning ) and Brian d'Arcy James presents 'Unusual Way' ( from Nine ) , to name a few.
It wouldn't be right to write about musical theater and not mention Stephen Sondheim, whose latest musical, Bounce, is about to begin a pre-Broadway run at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. The expanded reissue of the original cast recording of Anyone Can Whistle ( Columbia Broadway Masterworks/ Sony Classical/Legacy ) , with book by gay writer Arthur Laurents, features cast members Angela Lansbury, Harry Guardino and Lee Remick. Anyone Can Whistle, which closed nine days after it opened on Broadway in 1964, is the stuff of legends, and contains classic Sondheim tunes such as the title track, 'There Won't Be Trumpets' and 'Everybody Says Don't' ( which was covered by Streisand on one of her Broadway albums ) .
Among the multitude of reissues of classic and semi-obscure musicals is Runaways ( DRG/Columbia Masterworks ) , which was written, composed and directed by Elizabeth Swados, and premiered on Broadway in 1978. In the liner notes, Swados described Runaways as 'a collage about the profound effects of our deteriorating families.' Tapping 'the energy of young people,' in a cast that included Diane Lane, Trivi Alvarado, Josie De Guzman and Carlo Imperato, Swados examined alternative families through music and dance.
With successful productions running in four cities ( Chicago, New York, Boston and Las Vegas ) , you might think that the Blue Man Group would be satisfied. However, it would appear that after the positive reception for Audio, the disc that featured music from the Blue Man Group's unusual stage show, that BMG wants to be rock stars. Hence we have a harder-rocking album The Complex ( Lava ) and a full-out rock-and-roll tour stretching from Washington, D.C., to Seattle. If the Blue Man Group's Complex Tour is anything like what they do in their usual stage show, viewers are in for a treat. As for The Complex album itself, it is a bizarre blend of cover and tunes performed with guest artists such as Venus Hum ( 'I Feel Love' ) , Esthero ( 'White Rabbit' ) , Tracy Bonham ( 'Up To The Roof' ) and Dave Matthews ( 'Sing Along' ) made even more unique with the use of BMG's trademark instrumentation.