CastAlbumReviews.com

Welcome to CastAlbumReviews.com, a searchable website of reviews of recordings of musical theater scores, including original and revival cast recordings of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows as well as studio cast recordings and film soundtracks.

Literally thousands of recordings exist in this broad category. Our goal is that, as far as possible, the site will remain up to date with reviews of all commercially released English-language recordings of every Broadway and Off-Broadway musical, including shows that originated in other countries but have played in New York and/or have become popular worldwide. Not included are soundtrack recordings of original film musicals that haven’t been adapted to the stage.

These reviews were contributed by some of the most knowledgeable writers in the field,  including theater journalists, book authors, playwrights and lyricists, educators, and historians (see below).  A large percentage of the reviews are published for the first time here; others were previously published but have been re-edited and/or updated.

Each review heading includes a succinct identification of the recording (e.g., “Original Broadway Cast,” “Film Soundtrack,” etc.) and the year of the first release, followed in parentheses by the recording label(s). Where more than one recording of a particular score is reviewed, they are arranged in chronological order, from oldest to most recent. Identifying the recording label is challenging, what with releases, re-releases, and re-re-releases in various formats. To make things as simple as possible, we’ve listed the label on which each recording first appeared (in whatever format), followed by a slash, followed by the label of the most recent CD and/or downloadable digital album edition (where applicable).

A note about terminology: Although some people consider the word “album” obsolete in this context, we’ve retained it for the sake of tradition and as a viable alternative to “recording.” One dictionary definition of “album” is “a recording of different musical pieces,” so please think of it in those terms.

 

STAR RATING GUIDE:

5 Stars (5 / 5) = Superlative; outstanding

4 Stars (4 / 5) = Highly recommended

3 Stars (3 / 5) = Recommended

2 Stars (2 / 5) = Recommended with reservations

1 Stars (1 / 5) = Recommended with major reservations

0 stars = Not recommended

 

CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOS:

GERARD ALESSANDRINI has written and directed every edition of Forbidden Broadway and Forbidden Hollywood in cities around the world. The recipient of an OBlE Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, and four Drama Desk Awards, Gerard was honored in 1998 with the Drama League Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theater and a special Tony Honor for his work. With Michael Portantiere, he wrote the book Forbidden Broadway: Behind the Mylar Curtain. Gerard is also the creator of the hit show Spamilton, now playing at The Triad in NYC.

DAVID BARBOUR , a past president of the Drama Desk, is the editor-in-chief of Lighting&Sound America, a monthly publication covering technology for live performance. He was previously editor of Lighting Dimensions magazine and managing editor of TheaterWeek. David has contributed articles to many theater-related publications, including Broadway Direct and Playbill.

RICHARD BARRIOS is the author of the award-winning A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film. His second book, Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood From Edison to Stonewall, was the subject of a film series on Turner Classic Movies, which he co-hosted. His most recent book is Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter. Richard has appeared in numerous television and DVD documentaries, as well as several feature films. He lectures extensively and has written articles for The New York Times and other publications, and he has recorded DVD audio commentaries for South Pacific, Words and Music, and other films.

KEN BLOOM is the author of such books as American Song, Hollywood Song; Tin Pan Alley; Broadway: An Encyclopedia; Jerry Herman: The Lyrics; and co-author of Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows. On radio, he has worked with “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.” His theater credits include many years with New Playwrights Theatre of Washington. Ken is the President of Harbinger Records and a 2017 Grammy Award winner in the “Best Album Notes” category, with his collaborator Richard Carlin, for Harbinger’s Sissle and Blake Sing Shuffle Along.

SETH CHRISTENFELD, a past member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, is Literary Coordinator for the York Theatre Company. He studied musical theater writing at NYU, and he also attended SUNY Purchase and Brandeis University. Seth has worked as a production assistant (read: unpaid gofer) on such shows as Avenue Q and Harmony.  He is also a freelance script consultant and theatrical archivist.

JEFFREY DUNN directed musicals in the United States and abroad, including a three-year European tour of West Side Story. As an instructor of musical theater performance and history, he worked at Marymount Manhattan College, Syracuse University, New York University, Weist-Barron, and for many years at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Jeffrey died in 2014.

PETER FILICHIA is a theater critic emeritus for the Newark Star-Ledger and TV News 12 New Jersey, and the author of several books, including Let’s Put on a Musical! and The Great Parade: Broadway’s Astonishing, Never-to-Be-Forgotten 1963-64 Season. He wrote/emceed the Drama Desk Awards for four years, serving as its president and chairman of the nominating committee during that period, and is now once again a member of that nominating committee. He hosts the Theatre World Awards, and has served on the nominating committee for the Lucille Lortel Awards.

DAVID FINKLE is a journalist covering theater, music, dance, movies, and books. He has contributed reviews and articles to The New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsday, Publishers Weekly, BackStage, TheaterMania.com, and other publications and websites. David has taught journalism at Fordham University and has written/performed with the award-winning cabaret trio Weeden, Finkle and Fay. He is the author of People Tell Me Things, a short story collection, and The Man With the Overcoat, a novel.

LAURA FRANKOS is the author of The Broadway Musical Quiz Book and previously wrote a blog on musical theater history, “The Great White Wayback Machine.”  She has degrees in history from UCLA, and has written science fiction, fantasies, and mysteries.  She’s currently researching the 1935-36 Broadway season.

MATT KOPLIK is the creator and host of Baking it On Broadway, a popular web series in which Broadway actors discuss the inner workings of Broadway shows, all while baking a dessert. Matt holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Emerson College and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. His Playbill collection is legendary.

MARC MILLER is deputy copy chief at Businessweek. He currently reviews for nytheatreguide.com and theaterscene.com, and he has written for such publications and websites as  InTheater, Stages, Stagebill, and theatermania.com. His other writing credits include a chapter on movie musicals for the book Film Genre 2000 and notes for several musical theater recordings. Marc is also a lyricist whose songs have been performed at the New York Festival of Song, the American Music Theatre Festival in Philadelphia, and other venues. He is a member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle..

MATTHEW MURRAY is the former chief New York theater critic for TalkinBroadway.com, a position he held from 2001 to 2017. He graduated from Western Washington University with a major in playwriting.

BROOKE PIERCE is a former associate editor of TheaterMania.com. As a freelance writer, she has contributed reviews to Show Business Weekly, New England Entertainment Digest, and the Washington Square News. Staged readings of her plays have been held at Louisville’s Stage One Theater and other venues. A member of the Dramatists Guild and the Drama Desk, Pierce has also served as a judge at the New York International Fringe Festival.

MICHAEL PORTANTIERE is the chief New York theater critic for TalkinBroadway.com and a panelist for BroadwayRadio’s “This Week on Broadway” podcasts, presented by BroadwayStars.com. He has worked as an editor and writer for InTheater magazine and Back Stage, and he was Editor in Chief of TheaterMania.com from 2000 to 2007.  Michael has written for such publications as Playbill, The Sondheim Review, Everything Sondheim, W42ST magazine, and NPR.com. He may be heard, along with CastAlbumReviews.com contributor Richard Barrios, on the commentary track for the DVD and Blu-Ray editions of the 1956 film version of The King and I, and he has written notes for cast recordings of Little Me, The Most Happy Fella, and the New York Philharmonic’s Sweeney Todd with George Hearn and Patti LuPone. He is also a theater photographer whose photos have been published in The New York Times and other major publications.

ANDY PROPST, founder of AmericanTheaterWeb.com, has written for such diverse publications the Village Voice, TimeOut NY, and Backstage. He is also the author of You Fascinate Me So: The Life and Times of Cy Coleman, and is currently at work on a biography of Betty Comden and Adolph Green for Oxford University Press.

LISA JO SAGOLLA is the author of The Girl Who Fell Down: A Biography of Joan McCracken and Rock ’n’ Roll Dances of the 1950s. Formerly the Dance/Movement columnist and a dance and theater critic for Back Stage, she writes reviews and arts features for the Kansas City Star, Film Journal International, and Mediander.com. She has written scholarly journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries on dance and musical theater for several reference volumes, and she has choreographed more than 75 musicals for Off-Broadway, regional, summer stock, university, and dinner theaters. An arts education consultant, Lisa Jo has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Marymount Manhattan College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the College of William and Mary, as well as an M.A. in Dance Education and an Ed.D. in Art Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. She is currently researching a book on the comprehensive history of dance in the Broadway musical.

ROBERT SANDLA was the editor in chief of Stagebill for many years; prior to that, he was co-founding editor of TheaterWeek. He has also been a contributing editor at Dance Magazine, Opera News, and Lighting Dimensions; has written for Interview, InTheater, BBC Music Magazine, and Playbill; and has provided notes for several musical theater cast recordings, in addition to having worked with the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Philharmonic, and the Drama Desk.

MORGAN SILLS is a theater producer with several credits in New York and elsewhere. A graduate of Wake Forest University with majors in theater and English, he is also a writer, actor, and singer. Nominated for a MAC award for The Roger Edens Songbook,  he wrote and performed that show in New York and around the country. He has toured nationally in Forever Plaid and has appeared in productions of  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Flora the Red Menace, and Wish You Were Here.

DAVID WOLF won an Emmy Award for one of his scripts for Unicorn Tales, a series of musicals for children that aired on NBC-TV. He also wrote theater criticism and taught musical theater history. Highlights of his early career included working for Harold Prince as stage manager of  Fiddler on the Roof (in the latter years of that show’s run) and A Little Night Music. David  held a master’s degree in musical theater from New York University. He died in 2005.

CHARLES WRIGHT is president of the Drama Desk. He writes the program notes for the York Theatre Company’s biannual series of “Musicals in Mufti.” As an executive at A&E, he has been involved in the commissioning/production of numerous documentaries, including The Farm: Angola, USA, which received the 1998 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.