My Life With Albertine

AlbertineOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 2003 (PS Classics) 3 Stars (3 / 5) With a book and lyrics by Richard Nelson, who also directed the show, My Life With Albertine has a powerful and distinctive score; composer Ricky Ian Gordon’s work here, ranging from near-operatic arias to comic songs, bursts with musical invention and is given a wonderful French flavor by Bruce Coughlin’s tasty orchestrations. The top-notch cast is led by Kelli O’Hara and Brent Carver. O’Hara is particularly impressive, displaying great dramatic and musical range — and she gets most of the best material. Carver’s numbers are more varied in quality, but his layered performance makes even his odder songs seem natural for his character. Although Chad Kimball doesn’t quite reach his co-stars’ level of achievement, the overqualified members of the ensemble — including Emily Skinner, Donna Lynne Champlin, and Brooke Sunny Moriber — sound pretty much perfect throughout. — Matthew Murray