I turn my attention to the latest set of Broadway cast recordings with Frozen, Prince of Broadway and Mean Girls
My cynicism about the quick turnaround of megahit film Frozen into a would-be megahit musical lasted for about 10 seconds as I popped on their cast recording. I mean, I loved the film and its songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and so who was I kidding?!
And it fulfils all of my Disney princess dreams. Caissie Levy (Elsa) and Patti Murin (Anna) lead the cast in fine full-voiced form, new songs from the Lopezes fit in well to the score though it does take a hot minute to get used to them. And the orchestral arrangement lends a note of excitement to the songs you know so well already.
Levy’s ‘Let It Go’ naturally takes the spotlight as the Act 1 closer (reprised to close the show as well) but Murin’s rendition of ‘Love Is An Open Door’ with John Riddle’s Hans gets my vote for its sheer warmth and joie de vivre. Of the new songs, Elsa’s ‘Dangerous to Dream’ probably ranks as my favourite. Definitely keen to see this once it hits the West End.
Another Broadway cast recording and another film I enjoyed which has been adapted for the stage. Tina Fey’s Mean Girls is a legit modern classic so perhaps the only surprise is how long it has taken for it to arrive in the world of musical theatre. Garlanded with 12 Tony nominations despite lukewarm reviews, it makes for a fascinating listen.
Colin Richmond’s score (he totally got the job on merit, not by being Fey’s husband, honest) is decent rather than out and out spectacular. Which means it is down to the cast to knock it out of the park, which they do, by and large. Barrett Wilbert Weed and Grey Henson are huge fun as Janis and Damian, front and centre here as sort-of narrators, respectively nailing ‘I’d Rather Be Me’ and ‘Where Do You Belong’.
And as the Plastics, Taylor Louderman (Regina), Ashley Park (Gretchen) and Kate Rockwell (Karen) all have great fun, paying tribute to their famous character quirks but also injecting their own spin. Louderman’s ‘Watch the World Burn’ is great fun in its malevolence. Over a couple of listens though, the music hasn’t shown a great deal of sticking quality so maybe it’s a grower…
And last up is the odd little beast that is Prince of Broadway. A revue constructed in tribute to Hal Prince, the Broadway producer and director who has over 20 Tonys to his name, it features excerpts from many of the shows that he has been responsible for bringing to the stage.
And it is quite the roll-call, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Cabaret, She Loves Me, Sweeney Todd and Follies. But in acknowledging the enormity of such a list, it can’t help but feel bitty in the extreme and little is done to elevate it into more than a concert presentation as very little musical innovation is present.
So listening to it is ultimately rather underwhelming, the whole exercise a little fruitless as it just replicates MT classics rather than elevating them. Still, there are pleasures to be found here – Michael Xavier delivers a proficient ‘Music of the Night’ and a stirring ‘Being Alive’, and Emily Skinner’s ‘Now You Know’ cleverly subverts expectation in a rare moment of variation.