BROADWAY RETURNS: Come From Away - Resumes 9.21.21 Moulin Rouge! - Resumes 9.24.21 THE 74TH TONY AWARDS - 9.26.21 Aladdin - Resumes 9.28.21 To Kill a Mockingbird - Resumes 10.5.21 Tina - Resumes 10.8.21 Girl From the North Country - Resumes 10.13.21 Ain't Too Proud - Resumes 10.16.21 Jagged Little Pill - Resumes 10.21.21 The Phantom of the Opera - Resumes 10.22.21 The Book of Mormon - Resumes 11.5.21 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Resumes 11.12.21 Dear Evan Hansen - Resumes 12.11.21 Beetlejuice - Resumes 4.8.22

NEW ON BROADWAY: Lackawanna Blues - Opens 9.28.21 SIX - Opens 10.7.21 Freestyle Love Supreme - Opens 10.7.21 Chicken & Biscuits - Previews 9.23.21 Opens 10.10.21 Is This a Room - Previews 9.24.21 Opens 10.11.21 The Lehman Trilogy - Previews 9.25.21 Opens 10.12.21 Dana H. - Previews 10.1.21 Opens 10.17.21 Thoughts of a Colored Man - Previews 10.1.21 Caroline, or Change -Previews 10.8.21 Opens 10.27.21 Trouble in Mind - Previews 10.8.21 Opens 10.27.21 Diana - Previews 11.1.21 Opens 11.17.21 Trouble in Mind - Previews 10.29.21 Opens 11.18.21 Clyde's - Previews 11.3.21 Opens 11.22.21 Mrs. Doubtfire - Previews 10.21.21 Opens 12.5.21 Flying Over Sunset - Previews 11.11.21 Opens 12.13.21 Company - Previews 11.15.21 Opens 12.9.21 Skeleton Crew - Previews 12.21.21 Opens 1.12.22 MJ: The Musical - Previews 12.6.21 Opens 2.1.22 The Music Man - Previews 12.20.21 Opens 2.10.22 Paradise Square - Previews 2.22.22 Opens 3.20.22 Take Me Out - Previews 3.9.22 Opens 4.4.22 Birthday Candles - Previews 3.18.22 Opens 4.10.22 The Minutes - TBA Plaza Suite - Previews 2.25.22 Opens 3.28.22 American Buffalo - TBA 1776 - TBA Sing Street - TBA Our Town - TBA

COMING UP THIS WEEK: Broadway Musical Revival Logos Tournament: THE CHAMPIONSHIP! - Performers We Can't Wait to See More Of - Broadway in a Box: Fiddler on the Roof - One That Got Away: Neil Simon's Rumors - Broadway Games!

Contact us: (Email); @jkstheatrescene (Twitter); jkstheatrescene (Instagram)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Big Fish the Original Cast Recording is pretty much like Big Fish the musical.  And that's not necessarily a good thing.  At least everyone involved can be proud of their consistency.  But it says a lot about both the recording and the show itself, that the very best song on the CD is the Bonus Track, "The River Between Us," a song cut from the show before opening night.  It is pretty much the only song that even comes close to real depth, nuance or even plain old variety.

Grade: D+/C-

Title: Big Fish
Artist: The Original Broadway Cast 
Label: Broadway Records
Number: BR-CD01314
Format: Single CD
Case: Single Jewel Case
Booklet: Full color, 26 pages.  Complete lyrics. CD package design and layout by Van Dean. Production photos by Paul Kolnik.  Liner notes by John August and Daniel Wallace. Album produced by Andrew Lippa and Michael Croiter.  Executive producer Van Dean.
Bonus: "This River Between Us" sung by Bobby Steggert and Norbert Leo Butz

First, let me again compliment Broadway Records on their continued commitment to preserving contemporary Broadway musicals that aren't necessarily guaranteed big sellers.  Clearly, this company recognizes the long-term value of doing so. And whether the show was a hit or a miss, they give every show they record the full-on star treatment.  The booklet is a real souvenir of the show - the presentation is more program than CD book. And the quality of the recording is superb.

Sometimes, a cast recording adds to the experience of the show, revealing more depth than can possibly be gleaned from one cold viewing.  Sometimes, a cast recording confirms one's initial response to a show and its performers.  Always, it is a chance to study the results of what is often years of work.  In the case of this cast recording, I don't feel that it added to my experience, it confirmed it, and actually exposed some things that were less apparent when seeing the show.

More of this would have been nice...
There is no doubt that Andrew Lippa can write a big, show-stopping "Broadway" number.  The problem is that, in this case, it seems that he can write only big production numbers.  Because even when he slows it down it seems totally overblown.  This so much the case, that - I kid you not - when I was playing the CD at my desk at work, when it finally got to a different paced song, my cubicle mate turned to me and said, "that was one lonnnng song!"  It was somewhere around track 5.  Seeing the show, it took a little longer for that sense of monotony to hit me, hidden by all the flash of staging and scenery.  And, as we found out from the show, too much of a good thing isn't good at all.  And sense of nuance, nostalgia and sincerity was washed away by all the flash.  This recording changes none of that.  In fact, there is one thing that this recording revealed to me that shocked me.

...and less of this would have been nicer.
Even with all of my misgivings about the show (my review HERE), I was still pretty sure I was in that "Norbert Leo Butz will be Tony nominated.  He carried the show" camp.  Well, now, I'm not so sure.  I know this will make me unpopular with some of you, but he chews the scenery so hard that I almost expected him to come gnawing through the speakers.  He of all people, I thought, understood that being loud and over-the-top all of the time reads like white noise, not emphasis.  This was much less noticeable when seeing him perform live, perhaps because some of his bombast was smothered by the over-production around him.  Disappointing.

The best work is from Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert

I pray to the musical theater gods that Kate Baldwin will at last be attached to a project worthy of her considerable talents.  Big Fish ain't it.  And yet she still manages to rise above it all, turning in a lovely performance that is a wonderful counterpoint to all of the noise around her.  Perhaps, it will be her, not Butz, that the Tonys will recognize.  We shall see.  ("Daffodils" remains underwhelming.)  Another nice surprise is how nicely Bobby Steggert comes across here.  Not a small thing, when one considers that he is the antagonist, saddled with some of the more unpleasant material in the whole show.  But he acts the songs as well as he sings them.  And as I mentioned at the top, I'm grateful that the song "This River Between Us" was captured.  It includes Steggert's best work, and, believe it or not, Butz's best, too.  Would that he had showed some of this restraint a little more.

Fans of the show, I'm sure, will relish this recording.  I'm afraid this is one that will go on my shelf never to be heard from again.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...