Thursday, September 5, 2019

#TBT: Carousel: The 2018 Broadway Cast Recording

True, it closed just short of one year ago. But it sure feels longer than that, so I think it qualifies as a #TBT! I'm speaking, of course, of the either-you-loved-it-or-you-hated-it 2018 revival of Carousel. I happened to love it. Granted, I had never seen it before, so I had nothing to compare it to, but I was simply overcome by emotion when it was over.

Whether you loved the production or not, I think it is safe to say that the resulting cast recording is brilliant.  It's been in my CD player non-stop for a couple of weeks now, and the more I hear it, the more I like it. The beauty and genius of the Rodgers and Hammerstein score comes shining through. Maybe it is true they just don't write them like this anymore. Master orchestrator Jonathan Tunick has done masterful work here, bringing a gorgeous sound to Don Walker's original. And the entire cast sounds stunning.

For me, the biggest highlights are the two included orchestral tracks, "The Carousel Waltz" and the ballet. The former is one of those "stuck on a desert island with one song" things for me.  Then comes the tour de force "Soliloquy," sung to perfection by Joshua Henry, and Henry again, with Jessie Mueller in the famous "bench scene," ("If I Loved You," etc.) largely preserved here. They are magic together - I can close my eyes and picture it as if it were happening right in front of me.

How could you not love "You'll Never Walk Alone" as sung by RenĂ©e Fleming? Tears in my eyes every time. Finally, even if you didn't see the show, it is clear why Lindsay Mendez won the Tony for her charming performance. On this recording, she's just as vivid and accomplished as on stage.

The CD version has a beautiful, full-color booklet that has a great essay about the history of the show, more than a dozen production stills, and the complete lyrics. (Time to bone-up on the tongue-twister that is "June Is Bustin' Out All Over"!) Even if you didn't care for the production, I urge you to get this cast recording. It is lovely.

Grade: A+


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