“Thank you, madam. Please call again. Do call again, madam“
Those outside of Broadway were lucky enough to have the opportunity to see She Loves Me last month as it became the first show there to be livestreamed (here’s my review) but if you missed it, never fear as a cast recording has been released which captures much of what made it an absolute pleasure to watch and to listen to. Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s Fiddler on the Roof may be better known but I’d argue that Roundabout’s revival makes a strong case for this to be the better show.
Orchestrated beautifully by Larry Hochman and played expertly under Paul Gemignani’s musical direction, it’s hard to imagine the show ever having sounded this lovely and fresh. From the thrill of the overture through the entirety of the score which allows pretty much every character to have their moment in the limelight, She Loves Me has a deceptive simplicity that seem disposable but its old-fashioned charms are revealed in all the splendour here, delivered perfectly by an ace cast.
Laura Benanti’s Amalia Balash leads from the front in great style. Showing us the bruised soul under the brash exterior, she combines comedy and pathos in expert measure, whether in the frothier joy of ‘No More Candy’, the warm humour of ‘Vanilla Ice Cream’ or the plaintive romance of ‘Dear Friend’. Matching her in the character stakes is the brilliant Kane Krakowski, whose Ilona is similarly gifted gossamer-light material which is infused with real depth, ‘I Resolve’ and the comic ‘A Trip To The Library’ thus emerge as real highlights too.
Then there’s Zachary Levi soaring through the title track with exuberant joy, Gavin Creel making caddishness oh-so-appealing in ‘Ilona’, Nicholas Barasch’s puppyish Arpad begging us to ‘Try Me’, there really isn’t a weak spot among the ensemble or across the cast recording. The warm glow that comes from the first instance of the refrain up top as customers enter the shop is carried effortlessly through the end and it is an utterly seductive journey. Basically perfect.
It’s nice to know that you have good karma, sometimes at least, as I came very close to seeing She Loves Meon my last flying visit to Broadway, opting for Waitressinstead at the last minute. So it was most gratifying to hear that She Loves Me was to become the first ever Broadway show to be live-streamed on BroadwayHD, following in the footsteps of the hugely successful NTLive enterprise (and that the show would be available for the following seven days on catch-up, making up for the time difference).
The merits (or otherwise) of live-streaming have long been debated and will likely continue to be so for years to come as circular arguments go round and round. But as long as you accept that no, a recording will never be as good as the live thing and yes, it is an amazing thing to have accessibility increased in this way, it seems to me that everyone is a winner, especially with a show on a limited engagement like She Loves Me, which closes at Studio 54 on 10th July. Speaking of which, you’ve only got until 7th July to catch it on BroadwayHD. Continue reading “Review: She Loves Me, Studio 54 via BroadwayHD”
“Love, sweet love…no, not just for some but for everyone”
It’s no secret that Broadway cares but there’s still something extremely touching about a community coming together to help others, especially when it feels close to home. However others want to spin it, the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was an attack on the LGBT+ community and that is something that is just chilling in its cold reality. But from such horror comes something positive too as people rally together to share love and support, solidarity and hope that no matter how dark it gets, we’re never alone.
In London, the LGBT+ community has the Pride in London Parade to spark the coming together over what will be a poignant weekend. And on Broadway, Broadway Records President Van Dean, SiriusXM Radio Host Seth Rudetsky and Producer James Wesley have pulled together a dream choir of amazing performers to record a charity single of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’ to benefit the Orlando LGBT+ community. Take a look at the video below (and be blown away by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel and so many more) but I urge you to please buy a copy too, to support this very worthy cause.
And matching Broadway for passionate respect are the London Gay Men’s Chorus. The response to their musical tribute of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ at the Soho vigil for the Orlando victims was such that they have decided to release it as their own charity single (it had originally been intended for their 25th anniversary album later this year, and recorded just hours before the attack took place).
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Frank Langella, The Father
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, A View from the Bridge
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey into Night
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Leslie Odom, Jr, Hamilton
Alex Brightman, School of Rock
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Bill Camp, The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Richard Goulding, King Charles III
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey into Night
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Andrea Martin, Dotty Otley
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along
Where The Sky Ends is the debut album from US composer and lyricist Michael Mott which makes for one of the better songbook collections that have been released this year. 11 original songs (and a brief interlude) are featured here which have been selected from shows he has written like Faustus and Mob Wife and also from his back catalogue of standalone songs which cover a wide range of styles. And as ever, a fascinating group of performers have been gathered to give voice to this music.
What shines through in this collection, especially in the first half, is the sheer diversity of Mott’s writing. The chart-friendly pop of Justin Guarini’s ‘Just Like Me’ switches into Zachary Levi’s ‘The Left Side of the Moon’ which could easily pass as a Rat Pack standard; the slinky supperclub vibe of Sierra Boggess’ ‘The Devil’ with its fantastic brass accompaniment flips into the Donna Summer-esque Don’t Stop Dancin’ which recalls nothing so much as the soundtrack to an 80s gay bar!
Next up is one of the album’s highlights in ‘Dare to Dream’, taken from the show Faustus. Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan blend beautifully in what feels like it could be a classic Disney duet, the pair’s natural sweetness easily suggesting adorable animated animals twirling around a forest. And from then on, the default mode is strong power balladry which shines with its memorable tunes and strong lyrical clarity.
From the cheated wife of ‘Let You Go’, given real pathos by Jacqueline Petroccia, to the aching passion of Jeremy Jordan on ‘Try’ and the slow-building drama of Orfeh’s Hold Me Tight, this is quality song-writing which has been served excellently by both production and performances. If I had to criticise anything, it would be the sequencing which feels a little off but there’s really little to fault here in a strong collection of songs that is well worth the time.