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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

REVIEW: The Clockmaker’s Daughter

You may not be familiar with the writing duo Webborn & Finn, but that’s all about to change. Their first full-length musical, The Clockmaker’s Daughter premiered in London in 2015 and went on to critical acclaim, multiple sell out runs, and eleven award nominations to date.

The original musical faerytale has released a concept album featuring a star studded cast including Christine Allado (Hamilton, In The Heights), Fra Fee (The Ferryman West End & Broadway, Les Misérables West End & film), Ramin Karimloo (Anastasia, Phantom of the Opera), Hannah Waddingham (Kiss Me Kate and HBO’s Game of Thrones), Matthew Croke (Aladdin,Funny Girl), Lauren James Ray (Wicked, Putting It Together Hope Mill Theatre) and Graham Hoadly (Fame National Tour, Guys & Dolls Kilworth House). 

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is set in the fictional Irish town of Spindlewood and has what can be described as a modern folk score. While there are elements of folk music interwoven throughout the songs, they also vary widely in style to include everything from ballads and patter songs. The album opens with “The Turning of the Key” which is the strange ritual the townsfolk take part in every year as spring unfolds. This first track sets the stage for the story to be told and conveys a feeling of community as the talented ensemble is heavily featured. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

REVIEW: Head Over Heels (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

What do you get when you mix the most successful female rock band of all time with musical theatre? The answer is Head Over Heels, a new musical comedy featuring the iconic songs of the Go-Go’s that recently closed on Broadway. It was described by Time Out New York as “a saucy and boisterous celebration,” and the cast recording certainly conveys that feeling.

The album suffers from some of the same pitfalls as most “jukebox musicals.” One being that when a recording artist’s existing canon is used as the score, there generally isn’t a narrative that can be discerned by listening. The songs stand on their own and if you haven’t seen the show, you won’t have any idea how they move the story forward. A few of the tracks on Head Over Heels feature bits of dialogue from the production, but out of context they are just confusing. Also, tonally, there isn’t much variation. Almost all of the songs feature the same pop rock, synth sound that the Go-Go’s are known for. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Renee Fleming - Broadway

Earlier this year, internationally renowned soprano Renée Fleming made her Broadway debut as Nettie Fowler in the revival of Carousel. Her acclaimed performance wowed audiences and critics alike and even earned her a Tony nomination. In that spirit, Fleming has recorded Broadway, an album that celebrates musical theatre with a range of song selections from classic composers like Rodgers & Hammerstein to modern classics like Pasek & Paul. 

Fleming’s voice soars on each track as you would expect. “Fable” (Light in the Piazza), “Something Wonderful” (The King and I), and “Till There Was You” (The Music Man) all show off the grandeur of Fleming’s voice and display an unsurprising beauty, however, from a musical theatre perspective, there is a lack of emotional context and they fall rather flat. With purely classical arrangements as well, they don’t bring anything new to the table, offering very little to get excited about. 

Broadway is heavy on the ballads, but the few upbeat numbers and those that veer from the sound you would expect from Renée Fleming are the real stand-outs. “Wonderful Guy” (South Pacific) is a nice change of pace with a quirkiness that makes you smile. “The Glamorous Life” (A Little Night Music) is by far my favorite track with a new arrangement that turns it into a solo for Fleming. She hams it up brilliantly and offers a superb performance. Her ability to act through the song comes through and it is a really fun listen.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

REVIEW: The Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Two-time Grammy winner Imogen Heap has released The Music of Harry Potter and Cursed Child album based on the Tony and Olivier award winning play. While it is rare for albums to be made for straight plays, music plays a large role in Cursed Child, underscoring much of the action and scene changes. The musicality adds to the magical feeling of the piece and gives it a unique sense of fluidity. While quite different from the John Williams score used in the movies, Imogen Heap’s selections fit seamlessly into the Harry Potter universe. The new sound mirrors the new Wizarding World explored on stage and even die-hard Harry Potter fans won’t be able to find fault.

The over 100 musical moments from the play have been condensed to 79 minutes that fit into four musical suites, each representing one of Cursed Child’s four acts. In this unique structure, each suite can stand on its own, with a distinctive musical feel and arc. However, listening to them all together is a truly magical experience. The feelings of each act are translated impeccably into the song selections and it is a real emotional journey to listen to the album as a whole.
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