Thursday, May 26, 2011

cd review- Tom Wopat Sings Harold Arlen & Consider It Swung

Tom Wopat, who currently co-stars in Catch Me If You Can on Broadway, has had a varied career.  First achieving success on tv as one of the Dukes of Hazzard, he has appeared in ten Broadway shows including getting Tony nominations for his performances in the revival of Annie Get Your Gun and in A Catered Affair.  Wopat also appeared in the Broadway casts of City of Angels, Guys and Dolls, Chicago, 42nd Street and Glengarry Glen Ross as well as Sondheim on Sondheim last season.   He has also released eight solo recordings.  His first several recordings were country focused, but his last few have been jazz based, with the cds including many selections from the American standard songbook.

Last year we saw Wopat doing his jazz cabaret concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark (NJPAC.)  That concert was right before he released his latest recording entitled, Consider It Swung and he performed many selections from that recording at NJPAC.  This was also right after he appeared in the Seattle, Pre-Broadway run of Catch Me If You Can and right before he was on Broadway in Sondheim on Sondheim.   Wopat is the consummate entertainer and the cabaret setting, where he performed for about 400 people, gave him the chance to really connect with everyone in the room.   We previously saw him several years back when he toured with Faith Prince in celebration of the centennial of Harold Arlen's birthday.  At the same time he released an all Arlen recording, Tom Wopat Sings Harold Arlen.  This recording is a knock out, with amazing accompaniment and Wopat in great voice.

The Arlen cd evokes a smokey jazz night club with Wopat's deep, husky voice wrapping around the lyrics.   The jazz band he has supporting him is excellent and the arrangements throughout the cd give the band plenty of moments to shine.  Starting off with a great version of "That Old Black Magic" that gives Wopat the chance to show off his abilities to connect with the material from a jazz perspective.  "My Shining Hour" is lovingly delivered by Wopat, with a nice understated arrangement that starts off slow, then evolves into a more upbeat and layered accompaniment.  Wopat gives us a great take on "If I Only Had a Brain" from The Wizard of Oz that combines the lyrics from the three versions of the song heard in the film.  He has a lot of fun with the song, and manages not to get tongue tied with the intricate lyric rhymes.  This is followed by what has to be one of the best takes on "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" the quintessential song about a late nite drunken yearning from a melancholy man.  "Over the Rainbow" starts off with the seldom heard introduction to the song with Wopat managing to connect with the lyrics and making this often heard song seem fresh and new with the perfect jazz arrangement.

"Come Rain or Come Shine" is delivered in a somewhat slower version than is usually heard, but presented in this way, Wopat rings the wanting nature of the lyric and turns it into a somewhat desperate plea for attention.  The arrangement for "Accentuate the Positive" really allows not only for Wopat to swing the song but for the saxophone player to have a nice solo as well.  Wopat's delivery of "Hit the Road to Dreamland"  starts out with a dreamy arrangement then kicks it up a notch with a lovely xylophone solo that perfectly captures the dreamy point of the song.  "So Long Big Time" is delivered straight on but still gives Wopat and the band a change to swing it.  "Last Night When We Were Young" is the last track on the cd and is probably the one song on the recording that is delivered in the simplest manner by both Wopat and the band, which is a nice way to close out the recording.   Sam Arlen, Harold's son, plays the saxophone on the recording.

His latest cd, Consider it Swung, is an interesting mix of standards, 60's and 70's folk pop songs and a few recent songs as well.  Using some of the same jazz players to support him, it is a nice followup to the Arlen recording.  "That's Life" starts the cd off and fortunately it doesn't fall into yet other Sinatra imitation of the song that others feel is the only way to sing the song.  "Spinning Wheel" has a little out of the norm arrangement but Wopat and the band have fun with it and the Gershwin classic "But Not For Me" is delivered in a beautiful, heartfelt way.  "Ode to Billy Joe" has a driving guitar arrangement and an understated but direct delivery of the lyrics by Wopat that pairs nicely with the arrangement.  "2 Grey Rooms" is a haunting song written by Joni Mitchell and Wopat effectively evokes the melancholy, obsessive nature of this story song.   "Thailand Sea" was written by Wopat when he was making a movie in Thailand and is a nice love song with a beautiful arrangement.  It is pretty amazing to hear "Deacon Blues" sung with a jazz arrangement, the lyrics really come through and what was once just a late 70's soft pop hit for Steely Dan takes on a whole new life with Wopat at the helm.  Wopat's cut Catch Me song "50 Checks" is included as well (it's also a bonus song on the cast recording of the show) and Wopat delivers the song swingingly.   I love the arrangement for "You Fascinate Me So" it perfectly evokes a dreamy landscape and works beautifully with the song.  The classic song "42nd Street" that Wopat sung in the Broadway revival of that show ends the cd and it is slowed down slightly to let the lyrics wash over you.  Wopat and the lyrics also blend beautifully with the jazzy arrangement that includes a lovely saxophone focus.

At both the Arlen concert and the NJPAC cabaret, Wopat was such a professional entertainer who met his fans after both shows, and in the case of the Arlen concert was in the lobby before the show and at intermission as well.  We briefly spoke to him at both shows and the love he had for this music so clearly came through when he spoke.  It's nice to see a performer have such a connection and a love for the music he's performing.

I really enjoy both of these recordings so if you're looking for some jazz focused recordings I urge you to check them out.

Tom's Official Site

Audio Clips from the Harold Arlen cd:

Track list for the Arlen cd
1. That Old Black Magic
2. Dissertation On The State Of Bliss (Love And Learn)
3. My Shining Hour
4. If I Only Had A Brain  
5. One For My Baby
6. Over The Rainbow
7. Look Who's Been Dreaming
8. Come Rain Or Come Shine
9. Accentuate The Positive
10. Hit The Road To Dreamland
11. So Long Big Time
12. Last Night When We Were Young

Track list for Consider it Swumg:
1. That's Life
2. Spinning Wheel
3. But Not For Me
4. Ode To Billie Joe
5. 2 Grey Rooms
6. Maybe Someday Baby
7. Thailand Sea
8. You'd Rather Have The Blues
9. Deacon Blues
10. 50 Checks
11. You Fascinate Me So
12. 42nd Street
13. Natural Man
14. The Last Night Of The Year

Amazon link for the cd of  - Tom Wopat Sings Harold Arlen: Dissertation on the State of Bliss

Amazon link for the MP3 of - Dissertation On The State Of Bliss: Tom Wopat Sings Harold Arlen

Amazon link for the cd of Consider It Swung

Compilation video that includes Wopat singing some great songs -

Behind the scenes of the recording of "That's Life" -

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Upcoming Cast Recording Releases

Many of the shows I've reviewed over the past few months have cast recordings coming out in the next few weeks.   Here is a list of those recordings:

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, even though it hasn't officially even opened yet, just announced their cast recording is coming out right when they open on June 14th, and Amazon currently has it for pre-order for only $9.99.  Not sure how long that price will last, so order it now if you want it.

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

The Book of Mormon will most likely sweep the Tony's this year and the cast recording is currently available as an MP3 download with the cd being released on June 7th -

MP3 - The Book Of Mormon [Explicit] [+Digital Booklet]

CD - The Book of Mormon

Catch Me If You Can is currently available as an MP3 download with the cd to be released on June 28:

MP3 - Catch Me If You Can

CD - Catch Me If You Can / O.B.C.R.

The revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is being released on  June 7th -

MP3 - How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

CD - How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

I've listened to the recordings of Catch Me and Mormon already and they are both excellent.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Broadway Birthday" - Mame turns 45 today!

The smash musical Mame turns 45 today.   Opening on Broadway on May 24, 1966, Mame was the last show to open in the 1965-1966 Broadway season.  The musical has music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.   The show is based on the 1955 fictional "autobiography" Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, which was turned into the play of the same name in 1956 by Lawrence and Lee.  The play and 1958 movie of the play both starred Rosalind Russell.  Dennis appears as a character in both the play and the musical and Dennis is actually the pseudonym for Edward Everett Tanner, III.  Tanner actually wrote a sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame, as well as the novel Little Me, which was turned into the 1962 musical of the same name.

The musical of Auntie Mame was originally titled My Best Girl and the part of Mame was offered to Mary Martin who turned the role down.  Angela Lansbury eventually was offered the part.  Beatrice Arthur co-starred as Mame's "bosom buddy" Vera Charles with Jane Connell as her secretary Agnes Gooch and Frankie Michaels as her nephew Patrick.  Lansbury, Arthur and Michaels would all win Tony's for their performances.

Lansbury and Michaels
The plot of the musical, book and play follow the madcap adventures of Mame Dennis, a sophisticated New Yorker with a free wheeling lifestyle who encounters a little bump on the road of her eccentric, bohemian lifestyle when her brother dies and she is entrusted with the care of her 10 year old nephew Patrick.  Mame doesn't let having to take care of the young boy get in the way of her eccentric ways and introduces him to her world and her crazy friends.  After all, Mame's motto is "Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death" and she is going to show Patrick that to really live one must experience life in all of its many shapes and forms.

The show is set in New York from before the Great Depression to after World War II.  When Mame loses her fortune in the Wall Street Crash of 1929 she, Patrick and the rest of her household staff cope the only way they can, with Mame getting a series of jobs that she isn't that good at as well as celebrating Christmas in early December just to lift their spirits.  Eventually she finds a wonderful man, Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, a wealthy Southern gentleman who loves her and she marries him.  However, the trustees of Patrick's father's estate force Mame to send Patrick to boarding school, so she and Beauregard travel the world together on an endless honeymoon.  She and Patrick exchange many letters while she is away and he is at boarding school so they always stay in touch.  But after Mame's husband dies, she is now a wealthy widow when the grown Patrick returns home engaged to a debutante from a bigoted family.  Fortunately Mame arrives just in time to set things straight for Patrick once again, making him realize how suffocating his engagement was and how pretty a girl Mame's new secretary is.  The show ends several years later with Mame ready to take Patrick's son on a trip round the world and show him just how to live his life.

Connell, Arthur and Lansbury
The Broadway production was directed by Gene Saks and choreographed by Onna White and opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, later moving to the Broadway Theatre, running a total of 1,508 performances.   Though the show won three Tony's, Man of La Mancha took most of the Tonys that year including Best Musical and score.  Sweet Charity also lost out on most of the Tony awards to La Mancha that year.

Ginger Rogers starred in the 1969 London production and Broadway replacements for Mame were Celeste Holm, Ann Miller, Jane Morgan, and Janis Paige.  Lansbury left the Broadway production in March of 1968 and toured the US with the show playing San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Arthur and Connell would reprise their roles in the 1974 film version that starred Lucille Ball in the title role with Robert Preston as Beauregard.  Lansbury returned in a Broadway revival of the show in 1983 but it only managed to run for 5 weeks.  The Kennedy Center presented a 40th anniversary production in 2006 that starred Christine Baranski as Mame, Harriet Harris as Vera, Emily Skinner as Gooch and Max von Essen as the adult Patrick.

After the many hit recordings of Herman's "Hello Dolly!" it was only natural that many recording artists would record the title song for Mame.  Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, and Herb Alpert all recorded the song in 1966 and found themselves on the charts in both the United States and Canada with their recordings.   Eydie Gormé received a 1967 Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance for her recording of "If He Walked into My Life" which was a huge hit for her.  "We Need a Little Christmas" has become a well known holiday tune as well and I'm sure many people who hear it have no idea it was written for a musical.

My favorite songs from the score include "It's Today," "Open a New Window," "My Best Girl," "We Need a Little Christmas," "Bosom Buddies," and "If He Walked Into My Life."

Amazon link for Dennis' original book Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade

Amazon link for the Original Broadway Cast recording cd of Mame (1966 Original Broadway Cast)

Amazon link for the MP3 download of the cast recording of Mame

Amazon link for the dvd of the movie Mame

Amazon link for the dvd of the movie Auntie Mame

Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur perform "Bosom Buddies" at the Tony's -

Arthur and Lucille Ball sing "Bosom Buddies" from the movie of Mame -

Angela Lansbury discusses Mame- great interview-

Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass perform "Mame" -

Monday, May 23, 2011

The 100 Longest Running Broadway Shows and the ones I haven't seen

Below is a list of the 100 shows that have run the longest on Broadway along with home many performances each show ran for.  I've noted next to each one which productions of that show I've seen.  A guide is below to what the abbreviations mean.  It's interesting that I've pretty much seen every long running musical but hardly any of the plays.  You'd think if a play had such a long run that someone would revive it eventually.  Shows in red are ones I've never seen any production of - there are 33 of the 100 that I've never seen. 

How many have you seen?

OBC=Original Broadway Cast
BC=Broadway Cast
BR= Broadway Revival
NT= National Tour
LC= London Cast
RT=Regional Theatre
CT= Community Theatre production

as of May 1, 2011.   (*) are still running.

*1.   "The Phantom of the Opera" 9693 - OBC
2.     "Cats" 7485 - BC
3.  "Les Misérables" 6691 - OBC, BC, BR, RT,CT
4.   "A Chorus Line" 6137 - NT, CT
*5. "Chicago" (Revival) 6044 - BR, LC, NT
6.    "Oh! Calcutta!" (Revival) 5959
*7.   "The Lion King" 5638 - OBC
8.     "Beauty and the Beast" 5461 - BC. LC, CT
9.      "Rent" 5123 - BC, LC, NT, CT
10.    "Miss Saigon" 4097 - OBC, BC, NT, RT, CT
*11.   "Mamma Mia!" 3982 - LC
12.    "42nd Street" 3486 - BC, BR, NT
13.     "Grease" 3388 - NT, CT
14.     "Fiddler on the Roof" 3242 - BR, NT, CT
15.     "Life With Father" 3224
16.     "Tobacco Road" 3182
*17.   "Wicked" 3151 - OBC, BC
18.     "Hello, Dolly!" 2844 - RT
19.     "My Fair Lady" 2717 - BR, RT, CT
20.     "Hairspray" 2642 - OBC, BC, NT, RT
21.     "Avenue Q" 2534 - OBC, BC
22.     "The Producers" 2502 -OBC, BC, CT
23.     "Cabaret" (Revival) 2377 - BR, CT
24.      "Annie" 2377 - NT, RT, CT
25.      "Man of La Mancha" 2328 - BR, NT, RT, CT
26.     "Abie's Irish Rose" 2327
*27.    "Jersey Boys" 2319 - BC
28.     "Oklahoma!" 2212 - BR, RT
29.     "Smokey Joe's Cafe" 2036 - NT, RT
30.      "Pippin" 1944 - RT
31.     "South Pacific" 1925 - BR, NT
32.     "The Magic Show" 1920
*33.    "Mary Poppins" 1907 - LC
34.     "Aida" 1852 - OBC, BC, NT, CT
35.     "Gemini" 1819
36.     "Deathtrap" 1793 - RT
37.     "Harvey" 1775
38.     "Dancin'" 1774 (Broadway revival planned for next season)
39.     "La Cage Aux Folles" 1761 - BC, BR
40.     "Hair" 1750 - BR
41.     "The Wiz" 1672 - CT
42.     "Born Yesterday" 1642 (though I plan to see the current Broadway revival)
43.     "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" 1639
44.     "Crazy for You" 1622 - OBC, NT, RT, CT
45.     "Ain't Misbehavin'" 1604 - NT, RT
46.     "Monty Python's Spamalot" 1574 - OBC, NT
47.     "Mary, Mary" 1572
48.     "Evita" 1567 - NT, RT
49.     "The Voice of the Turtle" 1557
50.     "Jekyll & Hyde" 1543 - OBC, NT, CT
51.     "Barefoot in the Park" 1530
52.    "42nd Street" (Revival) 1524 - BR, NT
53.     "Dreamgirls" 1521 - NT, RT, CT
54.     "Mame" 1508 - RT
55.     "Grease!" (Revival) 1505 - NT, RT
56.     "Same Time, Next Year" 1453
57.     "Arsenic and Old Lace" 1444 - BR
58.     "The Sound of Music" 1443 - BR, RT, CT
59.     "Me and My Girl" 1420 - OBC, CT
60.     "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" 1417  -BR, NT, BR
61.     "Hellzapoppin" 1404
62.     "The Music Man" 1375 - BR, NT
63.     "Funny Girl" 1348 - RT
64.     "Mummenschanz" 1326
65.     "Oh! Calcutta!" 1314
66.     "Movin' Out" 1303 - BR, NT
67.     "Brighton Beach Memoirs" 1299
68.    "Angel Street" 1295
69.      "Lightnin'" 1291
70.      "Promises, Promises" 1281 - BR
71.      "The King and I" 1246 - BR, NT, RT, CT
72.      "Cactus Flower" 1234
73.      "Sleuth" 1222 - RT
74.      "Torch Song Trilogy" 1222
75.      "1776" 1217 - BR, NT, RT, CT
76.      "Equus" 1209 - BR
77.      "Sugar Babies" 1208
78.      "Guys and Dolls" 1200 - BR, RT, CT
79.      "In the Heights" 1184 - BC
80.      "Amadeus" 1181
81.      "Cabaret" 1165 - BR
82.      "Mister Roberts" 1157
83.      "Annie Get Your Gun" 1147 - BR, NT
84.      "Guys and Dolls" (Revival) 1144 - BR, RT, CT
85.      "The Seven Year Itch" 1141
86.      "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" 1136 - OBC, NT, RT
87.      "Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk" 1135 - OBC
88.      "Butterflies Are Free" 1128
89.      "Pins and Needles" 1108
90.      "Plaza Suite" 1097
91.      "Fosse" 1093
92.      "They're Playing Our Song" 1082
93.      "Kiss Me, Kate" 1077 - BR, RT
94.      "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope" 1065
95.      "The Pajama Game" 1063 - BR, CT
96.      "Shenandoah" 1050 - BR, NT
97.      "Annie Get Your Gun" (Revival) 1045 - BR
98.      "The Teahouse of the August Moon" 1027
99.      "Damn Yankees" 1019 – NT
100.    "Grand Hotel" 1017 - OBC, LC

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Fall TV Shows Announced and many have Broadway performers starring in them!

This week is the week when new tv shows are announced for next season.   There are numerous ones that star or co-star familiar faces from Broadway - below are clips and previews from some of the more interesting ones.  Check out the clips and see what you might be watching this coming Fall and just remember that three years ago only a few Broadway lovers knew who Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Martha Plimpton were before Glee. Modern Family and Raising Hope made them household names.

This is probably the most anticipated show for Broadway lovers since it focuses on the backstage development of the production of a Broadway musical based on Marilyn Monroe.  It features a cornucopia of Broadway performers and comes from Executive Producer Stephen Spielberg.   It stars Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee and Angelica Huston and features Broadway stars Meghan Hilty (Wicked), Brian d'Arcy James (Shrek, Next to Normal, Titanic, Sweet Smell of Success) and Christian Borle (Legally Blond and Mary Poppins.)  The pilot was directed by Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot) and features songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can). The show airs midseason on NBC.

The Playboy Club
Tony winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) co-stars in this 1960's set drama about the Chicago Playboy nightclub and the swinging 60's.  Benanti will actually get to sing a few songs on the show as well.  Airs Mondays at 10pm on NBC.

A Gifted Man
This CBS drama stars Patrick Wilson (two time Tony nominee for The Full Monty and Oklahoma!), Jennifer Ehle (two time Tony winner for The Coast of Utopia and The Real Thing) and Pablo Schreiber (Awake and Sing! and Desire Under the Elms as well as being Liev's half brother.)  It's a supernatural drama where Wilson is a surgeon who is able to see and speak to his dead ex-wife, Ehle.  Airs Fridays at 8pm.

Good Christian Belles
This night time soap co-stars Kristen Chenoweth (Tony winner for You're a Good Man Charlie Brown as well as Tony nominee for Wicked), Annie Potts (God of Carnage) and Miriam Shor (Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the D.C. Merrily We Roll Along).  It's set in Dallas and was originally called Good Christian Bitches before they changed the title, but that should give you an idea what the show is about!  Airs on ABC beginning mid-season.

Cherry Jones who besides having two Tony's (Doubt and The Heiress) also won an Emmy for her stint as the President of the United States on the hit tv show 24.   B.D. Wong is also a Tony winner for M. Butterfly and frequent tv star (Oz and Law and Order: SVU.)  Together they return to tv in this drama that stars Jason Issacs as a detective who finds himself living in two realities and leading a strange double life after he survives a car accident involving his family.  Jones and Wong play Isaacs' therapists in the two alternate worlds.  This show is sorta like Inception meets a cop show and looks very intriguing.  Airs midseason on NBC.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter
This comedy co-stars two time Tony Winner Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises and Noises Off) and Jaime Pressly as two mothers who are best friends and who were outcasts in high school.  They are now both single moms raising their two teenage daughters who have basically become the kind of mean girls who tormented them in high school.  Airs on Fox Wednesdays at 9:30 pm.

The Secret Circle
Gale Harold (Off-Broadway's Suddenly, Last Summer and tv's Queer as Folk) co-stars in this supernatural series set to air Thursday nights at 9 PM On The CW.   The series is based on the three-book series by L.J. Smith (The Vampire Diaries) about an orphaned teenage girl who moves to a small town in Washington where she discovers she is a part of a secret coven of witches and the key that unlocks a centuries-old battle between good and evil.

Hart of Dixie
Scott Porter (Off Broadway's Altar Boyz and tv's The Good Wife and Friday Night Lights) co-stars in this medical drama about a young female doctor from New York City who inherits a practice in a small Alabama town inhabited by eccentrics.  Porter plays a lawyer and potential love interest for the lead, airs Mondays at
9 on The CW.

Kate Burton is someone who has moved seamlessly between Broadway and tv, having appeared numerous times as Merdith Grey's mother on the first few seasons of Grey's Anatomy, she's also appeared as a judge on a couple of episodes of The Good Wife and has guest starred on numerous other tv shows.  She also appeared in over a dozen Broadway shows, earning three Tony nominations.  In this new series she plays the aunt of the lead character, a detective, who's mission is to protect humans from the real life Grimm's fairy tale creatures that exist in the world.  And Burton seems like she has some dark secrets of her own.  Airs Fridays at 9pm on NBC.

Person of Interest
Michael Emerson had a vast theatre career before hitting it big as Ben on Lost, winning an Emmy for that role.  On Broadway, he appeared with Kate Burton in the revival of Hedda Gabler and with Kevin Spacey in the revival of The Ice Man Cometh.  Off Broadway he originated the role of Oscar Wilde in the hit play Gross Indecency.  In this drama, he plays a mysterious New York City billionaire who teams up with an ex FBI agent to prevent serious crimes.  Executive produced by Lost's J.J. Abrams, this show airs on CBS Thursdays at 9pm.

Tony Goldwyn who co-starred on Broadway in Promises, Promises last season and the revival of Holiday as well as originated the lead role in Off Broadway's The Sum of Us, co-stars as the President of the United States in this ensemble drama from Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes set in a crisis management firm that "handles" all types of political problems and scandals - airs midseason on ABC.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

cd review- Karen Mason- Not So Simply Broadway

Karen Mason is an accomplished, actress, singer and cabaret performer.  She's appeared in several Broadway shows, including Wonderland, which closed last week.  With the closing of the show on my mind, I thought I'd review my favorite of Karen's CDs.

Karen's voice is such a force of nature, with such depth, clarity and strength it is easy to see why she was the standby for all three of Broadway's Norma Desmond's in Sunset Boulevard.  Karen also starred as Tanya in the original Broadway cast of Mamma Mia, receiving a Drama Desk award nomination and originated one of the three female roles in the Off Broadway Kander and Ebb review, And The World Goes Round, receiving an Outer Critic's Circle Award for that part.

Karen's Not So Simply Broadway recording features some amazing arrangements that are jazzy and let the band members shine on several solo moments as well as compliment Karen's voice,  the first track combines "Follow Me" from Camelot and "Something's Coming" from West Side Story.  It is a beautiful arrangement and Karen really makes the coupling of these two songs her own.  I love her rendition of  "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face" from My Fair Lady and her take on Finian's Rainbow's " If This Isn't Love" is so heartfelt and it soars to the rafters.

Mason's take on Carousel's "Mr. Snow" is dreamy and lush with a beautiful flute accompaniment that perfectly plays off of as well as combines with Mason's voice.  "Colored Lights" from The Rink isn't the overblown production that some other singers have recorded, but delivered in a measured manner with an underlying driving force.  This is followed by another selection from Finian's Rainbow, "Devil Moon."   The arrangement for this song is jazzy, with a sax solo that perfectly exhibits the feeling behind the lyrics.  The way the sax combines with Mason's voice in the second half of the song is breathtaking with the ending allowing Mason and the sax to combine as if in a dance.  This is probably my favorite track on the recording.

"Nothing Really Happened" from Is There Life After High School?  is a story song, and Mason knows the importance of focusing on the lyrics to tell the story.  Her attention to the lyrics also isn't missed on "This Nearly Was Mine" from South Pacific.  Delivered in a dreamy way, with an arrangement that builds perfectly to compliment Mason's building delivery of the song.  These serious songs are followed by the somewhat comical "Hey Look Me Over" from Wildcat.   Mason has some fun with this one, wrapping her voice around the lyric rhymes but ending with a big flourish.  The cd ends with "Never, Never Land" from Peter Pan which has yet another beautiful arrangement to accompany Mason.  I love how she doesn't deliver this song in the typical way it's been done before, but slows it down to make it more of a message for the young and young at heart, ending with a couple of lyrics from her opening song "Something's Coming" to tie the whole album together.

All in all, a highly recommended cd.  I'll review some of Karen's other CDs in future posts, as she has several out there.

Amazon link for the cd - Not So Simply Broadway

Amazon link for MP3's of the cd - Not So Simply Broadway

Amazon MP3 Clip previews-

Karen performing "This Nearly Was Mine" -