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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

CD Review: Once On This Island (New Broadway Cast)

Image result for once on this island revival recording cover
The score to Once On This Island was one of my favorites of the 90's, and it is probably my favorite of all of Aherns and Flaherty's oeuvre. It is alternately exciting, moving and transporting. The Original Cast Recording was one I used to play so much, it annoyed my friends and family. I never did see the original production, so I would look at the production photos and try to visualize what was happening. Well, when I finally saw the now Tony-winning revival, it was a transforming, mesmerizing experience.  Seeing what goes with the score was just so wonderful.  I suspect that this production will spoil me for all future viewings. (Thank you, Michael Arden!)

The New Broadway Cast Recording does not disappoint, either.  The lavish CD, chock full of Joan Marcus' stunning photos and Robbie Rozell's excellent design, makes reliving the show very easy. But I have to admit, listening to it in the dark is my favorite way to experience the exotic world of Ti Moune, Daniel and the Gods.

Grade: A+

Title: Once On This Island
Artist: New Broadway Cast 
Label: Broadway Records
Number: BR-CD09318
Format: Single CD
Case: Single Jewel Case
Booklet: Full color, 33 pages.  Complete lyrics. CD package design by Robbie Rozell. Production photos by Joan Marcus.  Cover Artwork by AKA. Essay by David Gordon. Album produced by Lynn Aherns, Stephen Flaherty, Elliot Scheiner, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport and WitzEnd Productions. Executive producer Van Dean.

It's not really a surprise that the cast sounds terrific - Hailey Kilgore, Kenita R. Miller, Phillip Boykin and Isaac Powell are vocal standouts, and Alex Newell  does a better job with  "Mama Will Provide" here than he did when I saw the show. The real treat here (and again, even better in the dark) is listening to the ensemble and instruments. The orchestrations by Annmarie Milazzo and Michael Starobin, with the fun of John Bertles and Bash the Trash's "unusual instruments" are literal music to the ears.

Even if you haven't seen the show (what the heck are you waiting for?) this cast recording is worth listening to.

Where you can get it: Amazon (currently $14.99); iTunes ($12.99)

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