Thursday, October 28, 2021

Broadway in a Box CD Review: Guys and Dolls (1992 Revival Cast)

Broadway in a Box CD Review:

Guys and Dolls (1992 Revival Cast) 

At Christmas a few years ago, Jeff gave me a copy of Broadway in a Box: The Essential Broadway Musicals Collection. He has now given me the opportunity to use his blog to share my impressions of each of the 25 cast recordings contained in the set, in alphabetical order.

This week’s entry is about the 1992 Broadway revival recording of Guys and Dolls.

This vivid recording of the Frank Loesser classic comes as a most welcome burst of joyous energy. Having only seen a high school production (long, long ago) and the film version, this CD reminded me what a fun and fascinating score this show has. I hope we get another revival on Broadway soon.

As with so many classic musicals, especially when only heard and not seen on stage, the biggest impression is made by the comic leads, in this case consisting of Nathan Lane (as Nathan Detroit) and Faith Prince (as Miss Adelaide). While Lane’s musical material is somewhat limited, he makes the most of it in “The Oldest Established” and “Sue Me,” two numbers that let Nathan Lane be Nathan Lane without overdoing his familiar schtick.

Similarly, I can easily imagine that the heavily stylized role of Miss Adelaide might become grating rather than endearing in lesser hands, but Prince never lets that happen. Much like Ellen Greene as Audrey, Prince inhabits the character as a real person rather than a caricature, making the accent and affectations seem genuine. It goes without saying that “Adelaide’s Lament” is a highlight of the recording.

The romantic leads are just as good, even if they necessarily make a bit less of a splash. Peter Gallagher works his usual calm and confident magic as the racketeer-turned-missionary Sky Masterson. I particularly appreciated his quiet, tender moments, especially “My Time of Day,” which provides a respite from the sometimes manic pace of the rest of the show. Josie de Guzman, as his love interest Sarah Brown, is as good a match for him on the recording as she is in the story. Her late duet with Prince, “Marry the Man Today,” is another highlight.

When the lesser roles are filled by the likes of
J.K. Simmons (Benny Southstreet) and Victoria Clark (Martha), you know you’ve got a stacked cast. Simmons and his frequent scene partner Walter Bobbie (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) do a great job establishing the setting and tone of the whole show at the outset. Among the secondary characters, another standout is John Carpenter (Arvide Abernathy), who nails his solo song, “More I Cannot Wish You.”

As I read over this review, I realize I’ve heaped nothing but praise on everyone involved. And indeed I struggle to find fault with any aspect of this recording. The show itself is only my third favorite Frank Loesser show, and I don’t think it offers nearly as much social commentary (for lack of a better term) than The Most Happy Fella or How to Succeed…. But if you’re looking for a fun, raucous romp, you can’t do much better than this.

Next up is the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Gypsy.

Thanks, as always, Mike! Loesser is, I think, somewhat underappreciated. Just look at the three scores you mentioned. Each are brilliant in their own way, each are critically acclaimed. Yet each are virtually dissimilar, existing in their respective worlds. What other musical theater writer can say that?

I mean, you can spot a Kander and Ebb song or a Sondheim song a mile away!


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