Thursday, May 30, 2013

Album Review: KINKY BOOTS

I thought I was going to hate this album. Granted, I know next to nothing about the show, but so many factors made it seem like it wouldn't be my thing. Sure, Kinky Boots has been receiving rave reviews on Broadway and has the most nominations of any show at this year's Tony Awards... but I don't usually go for the big, flashy commercial shows (Which Kinky Boots totally is). Also, I was, admittedly ignorantly, turned off by the fact that Cyndi Lauper wrote the score. I've never been a fan of Lauper's work, and rock artists don't generally have a good track record of producing great scores for the theatre. So really, everything was in place for me to hate this cast recording.

I don't think I've ever been so wrong.

Friday, May 24, 2013


As I've stated, this blog isn't just for reviews of the latest cast albums... I'm also going to be reaching back into the realm of the old and/or obscure. And thus, I bring you Floyd Collins. Floyd Collins, based on the true story of a Kentucky caver who became trapped in a sand cave for weeks and was turned into a media sensation, is one of those "how the hell could that possibly work as a musical?" musicals. But composer/lyricist Adam Guettel and librettist Tina Landau found a way. In fact, they created one of the single greatest contemporary musicals of the past 20 years.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Album Review: GIANT

I've heard it said that Michael John LaChiusa is one of those composers you either love or hate. I have to disagree, simply because I confess that while I don't hate LaChiusa's work, I'm not enamoured with it either... I fall on this weird middle ground. Having heard Little Fish, Bernarda Alba, and See What I Wanna See, the main feeling I've emerged with is appreciation. They've never moved me, nor had me reaching for the replay button, but I simply couldn't deny their general excellence.
LaChiusa's work is not for the faint of heart. If you're a fan of composers like Andrew Lloyd Webber, you're probably not going to like LaChiusa's work. It's rich, complex, smart music to be sure, but often arrhythmic and written in unconventional structure. Hardly a verse-chorus type song in sight and many tunes aren't what you'd call catchy (though they are very memorable). His latest musical Giant, based on the Edna Ferber novel, follows Bick and Leslie, a newly married couple and one in which Bick must decide between his love for Leslie and his love for his 'country' of Texas. It's difficult to summarize the story as it is, true to the title, quite giant. Luckily, not only is this score excellent, but I do believe LaChiusa has found the hit he's been working ever so hard for.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Album Review: DOGFIGHT

I can't think of a better way to kick off this blog than by reviewing Dogfight, the new cast album featuring the original Second Stage cast. Dogfight, with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and book by Peter Duchan, is the new chamber musical based on the 1991 film of the same name starring River Phoenix and Lilli Taylor... and knowing what the film is about makes you wonder how the hell it could possibly work as a musical.

It's 1963, the day before The Kennedy Assassination and the day before a bunch of Marines get shipped off. A particular group of Marines, featuring 'The Three Bees' (Birdlace, Bernstein, and Boland), decide to let loose for their final night in the country by hosting an unspeakably cruel contest called the "dogfight", in which each Marine bets on who can find the ugliest possible woman to bring to a party as their date... and the guy with the ugliest date wins the pot. The thing is, none of these girls know what the true nature of the party is, and hopefully never will. Eddie Birdlace, one of the Three Bees, finds Rose Fenny working in a diner in town. Rose, a sensitive and awkward introvert, falls for Birdlace's charm and she eventually gets coaxed into attending the party. But when Rose finds out what's really going on and leaves the party heartbroken and humiliated, Birdlace soon chases her down and an unlikely love story evolves.


Welcome to The Cast Album Review! I'm Michael Kras, an actor, playwright, director, singer, and HUGE fan of musical theatre. I live in Canada, so my access to New York and Broadway is limited enough that a lot of my exposure to new musical theatre comes from my collection of cast albums. As I write this, I have over 130 albums... Broadway and Off-Broadway, new and old, original cast and revival cast, concept albums, you name it. And I thought, "What better way to make even stronger use of these albums than to ring in my thoughts on some of them? I'll mostly be reviewing new albums as they come out but, in lulls, I'll jump back into my collection and review one of the older ones. Check back often, and I hope you enjoy!