Kat and the Kings

KatOriginal London Cast, 1998 (First Night/Relativity) 2 Stars (2 / 5) The good thing about this cast album, recorded live at London’s Vaudeville Theatre, is that it allows you to avoid the show’s well-meaning but hackneyed book and focus on the peppy, doo-wop music that gave this Olivier Award-winning musical its spark. The songs, by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen, may be only imitations of the ’50s-’60s classics that inspired them, but they do exhibit pleasant harmonies and toe-tapping beats. And they’re delivered with enthusiasm by the wonderful young cast members in this story of a group of friends in apartheid-era South Africa who aspire to rock stardom but encounter obstacles at every turn. Happily, the CD booklet contains all the lyrics; but even more welcome would have been a synopsis and background on the show, which was apparently a labor of love for its South African company and creators. Their good intentions are not enough to make Kat and the Kings essential for your cast album collection, but it’s an enjoyable listen. — Brooke Pierce