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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

CD REVIEW: Fun Home

It has been called "exciting," "ground-breaking," and I, myself, called Fun Home "brilliant" and "monumental."  (Review HERE) This beautiful collection only serves to solidify my opinion of the show, because I think it is not only one of the best cast recordings in years, but because it becomes crystal clear from the beginning right through to end that this challenging piece is soulfully intelligent and still a heartfelt work of entertainment.  And it only makes me even more excited to see it again on Broadway (fingers crossed)!

Grade: A+


Title: Fun Home
Artist: The Original Cast 
Label: PS Classics
Format: Single CD
Case: Single Jewel Case, with card stock slip cover
Booklet: Full color, 40 pages.  Complete lyrics and plot synopsis. Production photos by Joan Marcus.  Liner notes by Oskar Eustis and Jesse Green. Produced by Tommy Krasker and Philip Chaffin.  Executive Producers Fox Theatricals (Kristin Caskey and Mike Isaacson) and Barbara Whitman.

THE TOP THREE REASONS YOU NEED THIS RECORDING!

1.  The CD Packaging makes it a true souvenir of the show.  Not only does the booklet contain thoughtful essays and a full synopsis to go along with the complete lyrics, it is replete with more than two dozen of Joan Marcus' artistic and evocative production photos.  It will bring back plenty of memories for those who saw it, and will provide plenty of context for those new to this important work.



2.  The performances are superlative. The entire cast shines here, as they did on stage.  The recording preserves performance level acting, with the great Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn leading the way.  Even just listening to Mr. Cerveris is a thrilling experience - he is intense, severe, and gut-wrenching.  The agony of Ms. Kuhn's character comes through loud and clear as well - I hope, if the show moves on, that they can add something for her.  Beth Malone, as Alison, has a little more to do here than Ms. Kuhn, and she is a great narrator.  But the two best performances are from "Medium" Alison, Alexandra Socha, and "Small" Alison, Sydney Lucas.  Both pretty much explode out of the speakers with enthusiasm and charisma.  I am so glad their performances were saved for posterity.

3.  The inclusive nature of the recording provides an extraordinary experience.  The entire Jeanine Tesori - Lisa Kron score is excellent, and on the recording there are really no weak tracks.  That said, for me, the best numbers include the controversial "Ring of Keys" and the heartbreaking "Edges of the World."  "Changing My Major" is still equal parts compelling and hilarious, and "Days and Days" brings a tear to my eye at the thought of it.  "Come to the Fun Home," "Al for Short" and the Partridge Family-esque "Raincoat of Love" is just as fun here as it is live.  But what really makes this recording stand out is the expert use of Kron's book scenes throughout.  Other recordings have done similarly, but here, the dialogue included only enhances the the time spent with this CD.  It truly, fairly comes as close to being at the show as you can get.


As I said in my review of the show, this challenging work will likely have as many champions as detractors.  But I am sure that history will show that Fun Home represents the very best of the 21st century musical.  this recording will go far in making that happen.

Jeff
5.205

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