Album Review: Audra McDonald – Way Back to Paradise (1998)

“To whirl and to dance till the white day is done”

It’s easy to look back with hindsight on this kind of thing but it is remarkable to see what Audra McDonald did with her first solo album Way Back To Paradise. Eschewing the easy route of well-worn standards and crowd-pleasing hits, McDonald turned to her contemporaries, working with upcoming composer-lyricists in showcasing their little-known or unproduced work (in some cases , writing specifically for her) that was very much at the vanguard of new musical theatre writing.

And she chose wisely, for among that company are the likes of Jason Robert Brown, Michael John LaChiusa and Adam Guettel. And thus the tracklisting respectively features gems like ‘You Don’t Know This Man’ from Parade, now surely acknowledged as a modern classic but at this point yet to open on Broadway, the striking ‘Mistress of a Senator’ from Hello Again, and ‘Come To Jesus’ from Saturn Returns, on which Guettel appears too. Continue reading “Album Review: Audra McDonald – Way Back to Paradise (1998)”

Review: The Mistress Cycle, Landor

“This is how it starts”

I haven’t been able to make any of From Page to Stage this year, the Landor’s new musical theatre writing season full of short runs and showcases, so I was pleased to be able to get into the very last show. The Mistress Cycle is an 80 minute song cycle written by Beth Blatt with music by Jenny Giering, which takes a look at mistresses past and present as a modern-day New Yorker wrestles with the morality of falling for a married man.

So we hear about Lulu White, a brothel madam from turn of the century New Orleans, Diane du Poitiers who was the lover of 16th century French King Henri III, the teenage concubine of a 12th century Chinese master and contemporary erotic writer Anaïs Nin. Blatt presents the variety of reasons that have led these women to take control of their sexuality and deploy it as they see fit, yet leaves their stories ambiguous enough for us to make our own judgements. Continue reading “Review: The Mistress Cycle, Landor”