Category Archives: N-P

Prince of Egypt

Film Soundtrack, 1998 (Dreamworks) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) Like several other animated musical classics of the screen, from Snow White to the clutch of far more recent Disney films (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Coco, et al.), Prince of Egypt contains considerably fewer songs than would be included in a stage musical. But the songs with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz that are heard here, beautifully augmented by Hans Zimmer’s lush orchestral score, make for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. Highlights of what is basically an animated musical remake of The Ten Commandments (!!!!) include the powerful opening chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, “Deliver Us”; Moses’ plaintive song, “All I Ever Wanted,” sung by Amick Byram, with the “Queen’s reprise” delivered equally persuasively by Linda Dee Shayne; a weird, comic-villain number, “Playing with the Big Boys Now,” performed by Steve Martin and Martin Short as two of the Pharoah’s henchmen; the inspirational ballad “Through Heaven’s Eyes,” which allows us to revel in the wonderful Broadway baritone of Brian Stokes Mitchell; and the lovely duet “When You Believe,” prettily sung in pseudo pop-style by Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky, with the bonus of a full-on pop version by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. — Michael Portantiere

Original London Cast, 2020 (Ghostlight) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) Unsurprisingly, no music by Hans Zimmer is to be heard in this stage adaptation of Prince of Egypt, but Stephen Schwartz augmented the film’s song stack to create a full-fledged stage musical that made its debut at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in 2017, then had its international premiere in a Danish production at the Fredericia Teater in April 2018, followed by a summer run at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen and a presentation at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Ivins, Utah. A revised version opened at the Dominion Theatre in London’s West End on February 2020 and, after closing in March of that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened on July 1, 2021. “Playing With the Big Boys Now” was eliminated from the show score early on (probably for the best), but as noted, many new songs were added, resulting in a cast album that’s full to bursting with 23 tracks (including three reprises). “Deliver Us” makes for a thrilling opening sequence, and the other items retained from the film (“All I Ever Wanted,” “Through Heaven’s Eyes,” “When You Believe”) work equally well as stage musical numbers. Among the major new additions are songs titled “Faster,” “One Weak Link,” “Footprints on the Sand,” “Make it Right,” “Never in a Million Years,” “Always on Your Side,” and “For The Rest of My Life.” If none of these represent Schwartz’s top-shelf work, they are all worthy efforts by one of the musical theater’s greatest composer/lyricists, performed by a strong cast headed by Luke Brady (Moses), Liam Tamne (Ramses), Christine Allado (Tzipporah), Alexia Khadime (Miriam), Joe Dixon (Seti), Debbie Kurup (Queen Tuya), Gary Wilmot (Jethro), Mercedesz Csampai (Yocheved), Adam Pearce (Hotep), Tanisha Spring (Nefertari), and Silas Wyatt-Barke (Aaron).  — M.P.

Passing Strange

Original Broadway Cast, 2008 (Ghostlight) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Passing Strange is the semi-autobiographical work of singer/songwriter Stew, co-written with his longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald. The story follows Youth,  a young black man played by an explosive Daniel Breaker. Anxious to be an artist and eager to search for what’s real in the world, Youth leaves behind his life of comfort in a California suburb for the exoticism of Europe. In doing so, he ends up cutting ties with everyone in his life — including his loving if not completely understanding mother, a role sung with warmth by Eisa Davis. On stage, Passing Strange was a highly energetic experience for audiences, but also a divisive one. This cast album, recorded live at the Belasco Theatre where the show played, will most likely prove divisive as well. First time listeners may be confused: There is very little dialogue between songs, leaving major gaps in the plot, and the method of the storytelling constantly changes so that characters either sing to each other, about each other, or from the point of view of the Narrator (played by Stew), often within the same song. However, to dismiss Passing Strange because of its non-traditional structure and its difficulty to categorize would be to ignore everything else that the show and this album have to offer. Stew and Rodewald’s music, which they also orchestrated, pulsates with creativity and spirit, whether permeating the air with soothing, lilting ballads such as“Keys (Marianna)” and “Come Down Now” or working up a sweat in “Keys (It’s Alright)” and “Mom Song.” As for Stew’s lyrics, they are artfully crafted while also conveying real emotion and conflict. Before the Broadway production of Passing Strange closed, Spike Lee filmed it; that film can be sought out by anyone who would like a more comprehensive understanding of the piece, and it also allows a greater appreciation of the work of the phenomenal cast. But even on stage, Passing Strange was less concerned with the details of its story than with the emotional potency of its journey. Perhaps if neophytes approached the recording as more of a pop/rock concept album, like Tommy or Jesus Christ Superstar, they’d have a clearer idea of what to expect from this highly creative work. — Matt Koplik

Pretty Woman

Pretty WomanOriginal Broadway Cast, 2018 (Atlantic) 0 stars; not recommended. Movies that were popular in the latter part of the 20th century have become the go-to source material for Broadway musicals these days. If a film is beloved, a show based on it has a built in audience, and if the movie was made more than 20 years ago, the show can cash in on the “nostalgia factor.”  Or so the thinking goes. This cynical mentality is nowhere more prominently seen than in Pretty Woman: The Musical. Based on the wildly successful 1990 romantic comedy, the show tries to please its audience by sticking so closely to the original screenplay that whole scenes are recreated line for line. (Garry Marshall, the film’s director, worked on the libretto with J.F. Lawton before his death in 2016.) It also trades on nostalgia by bringing in ’80s-’90s pop-rock team Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance to write the score,  and if none of the songs are offensively unlistenable, they’re all ultimately unnecessary. Each one starts by stating the basic intention of the character singing it, usually at a grooving tempo, with the following verses essentially rewording that same sentiment in a higher key and at a faster tempo. While this allows power belters like Samantha Barks and Orfeh to wail appropriately, it does little for the story. One need only read generic song titles such as “I Can’t Go Back,” “Something About Her” and “Never Give Up On a Dream” to understand the lack of insight Adams and Vallance have brought to the score. Set in a sanitized version of LA, the show follows Vivian (Barks, in the role that made Julia Roberts a movie star), a down-on-her-luck hooker who’s hired by reserved billionaire Edward (Andy Karl) as his escort for the week. After some playful banter and small blowups, the two fall in love, and all turns out well in the end. As Vivian, Barks decides not to channel Roberts’ bubbly charm in the film and go for a more nuanced performance, but her attempts are undermined at every turn by the banality of the lyrics and the repetitiveness of the music. Though Karl’s faux rock and roll growl suits the score’s style, he is ultimately wasted in the role of the withdrawn Edward. As Vivian’s spunky fellow prostitute Kit, Orfeh goes for broke and pulls out every vocal trick she has on songs like “Rodeo Drive” and “Never Give Up on a Dream.” But, like her costars, she’s failed by the lifeless pop tunes. Only Allison Blackwell, in a featured spot, gets any music with energy in it, during the sequence when Edward takes Vivian to the opera — but this is because she gets to sing a bit of La Traviata, which orchestrator/arranger Will Van Dyke seamlessly incorporates into the Adams-Vallance song “You and I.”  It’s a memorable moment in a recording you’ll otherwise forget about as soon as you finish listening to it. — Matt Koplik

The Prom

The PromOriginal Broadway Cast, 2019 (Broadway Records) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)  The Prom might be described as an old-fashioned musical comedy with a modern sound and up-to-the minute subject matter and plot, about a bunch of vain, self-absorbed, New York theater types who become Social Justice Warriors when they hear that an Indiana high school prom has been canceled to prevent a lesbian student from attending with her girlfriend.  The show’s book (by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin) and score (lyrics by Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar) offer much hilarity, plus several moments of heartfelt sentiment,  as the NYC peeps head to Indiana to try to make everything right. The culture- and ideology-clash results are truly funny through most of the action, yet the show carries a powerful and moving message about inclusiveness. As was the case with the Sklar-Beguelin scores for The Wedding Singer and Elf, the team again provides a clutch of songs notable for pleasing melodies, clever lyrics, and irresistibly catchy “hooks” — such as the sung phrases “One thing’s universal, life’s no dress rehearsal” in “Tonight Belongs to You” and “Build a prom for everyone, show them all it can be done” in “It’s Time to Dance.” As for the ballads, give a listen to “Unruly Heart” and “Dance With You” if you wish to enjoy songwriting of very high quality.  The cast is top-notch, with musical comedians Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, Angie Schworer, Christopher Sieber, and Josh Lamon all brilliant as the visitors from Broadway, while Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla bring real emotional weight to the relationship of the two girls at the center of the controversy. — Michael Portantiere

Motion Picture Soundtrack, 2020 (Sony Classical) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) Hollywood heavyweight Ryan Murphy loved The Prom so much that he gave the quirky underdog musical a splashy movie adaptation as part of his multi-million dollar production deal with Netflix. Typical of most movie versions of stage musicals (and most Murphy productions), everything here is big and flashy, with a high star quota in the principal roles and an enlarged ensemble of camera-ready young actors as the Indiana high schoolers. The soundtrack is frequently entertaining even as it highlights where and how Murphy often went wrong in his adaptation. From a purely musical standpoint, there’s a lot to recommend. The beefed up orchestrations are generally fantastic, channeling the lush fullness of old-Hollywood musicals. Fans of the stage show can rest easy knowing that no songs were cut for the movie, and that the majority of the celebrity cast members hold their own. Though Nicole Kidman is out of her depth as Angie, providing a rather lost-sounding “Zazz,” the other principals do strong work, with Meryl Streep offering her best singing to date as Dee Dee; those who may have been underwhelmed by her past forays into movie musicals will be surprised by Streep’s vocal command in “It’s Not About Me” and “The Lady’s Improving.”  As for Andrew Rannells in the role of  Trey, he makes “The Acceptance Song” the comedic highlight of the soundtrack. All of that said, by increasing the volume and brightening the sheen of the property, Murphy has zapped The Prom of a lot of its charm and humor; some of the crasser jokes have been re-written, and much of the dialogue included on the album is spoken with a confident poise that threatens to turn the whole enterprise into the kind of earnest attempt at artistic activism that the stage show was mocking. As the central high school couple, Jo Ellen Pellman and Ariana Debose sing as well as their Broadway counterparts, but they sound too mature to be believable as anxious, overwhelmed teenagers caught in a media frenzy. If this soundtrack loses some of the edge that made The Prom such special fun on stage, it’s still an enjoyable listening experience overall. — Matt Koplik


Once-SoundtrackFilm Soundtrack, 2007 (Columbia) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) This is the deservedly popular soundtrack album of a gorgeously bittersweet indie film, set in Dublin, about the brief but intense romance and songwriting partnership of an Irish busker (Glen Hansard) and a Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova). Their love affair ends due to other entanglements, but not before they record a demo together — and he buys her a piano as a parting gift. However close to real life the events and characters of the story may or may not be, the whole thing is lent a wonderful air of authenticity by the fact that all of the songs heard in the film and on the recording were written and performed by Hansard and Irglova. The gentle, simple, almost hypnotically lovely ballad “Falling Slowly” was the movie’s big hit, charting in Ireland, Canada, the U.S. and Brazil, and winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song. But there are several other delights here, such as “Say It To Me Now,” “Leave,” and the deliciously quirky “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy.” (The Hansard character repairs vacuum cleaners to earn a living.) This recording is eminently listenable and thoroughly enjoyable in its own right, aside from its interest as the soundtrack of a film that served as the basis for one of the most unexpected Broadway musical hits of its era. – Michael Portantiere

Once-BroadwayOriginal Broadway Cast, 2012 (Masterworks Broadway) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) It probably never occurred to most fans of the film that a stage musical version of Once would ever be created or that it would be successful anywhere, let alone on Broadway, which generally tends to traffic in larger,  faster-paced, less subtle entertainments. But the brief-candle romance of the lovers at the center of the story is potent enough that one could envision such a musical connecting with audiences if pains were taken to assure that the intimacy of the piece was retained. Which is exactly what happened. With a book by Enda Walsh (based on the screenplay by John Carney) and a score comprised almost entirely of the Hansard-Irglova songs from the movie, Once premiered at the American Repertory Theatre (ART) in Cambridge, MA  in 2011 before transferring to the New York Theatre Workshop and then to Broadway, where it collected a bunch of 2012 Tony Awards — including Best Musical — and achieved a three-year run. Among the several wise decisions made in adapting the film to the stage were Bob Crowley’s unit set design, which created the feel of a homey Irish pub; and the fact that the cast also served as the onstage orchestra. Steve Kazee as “Guy” is a real charmer in these songs, sounding far more comfortable with this style of music than that of his previous big Broadway lead, Starbuck in 110 in the Shade. He and Cristin Milioti as “Girl” make beautiful music together in “Falling Slowly,” “If You Want Me,” and “When Your Mind’s Made Up.” She also does a persuasive job with “The Hill,” though some may find her rather thick Czech accent a bit distracting on repeated listening. The ensemble of actors/musicians includes familiar names such as as David Patrick Kelly and Anne L. Nathan, along with some super-talented newcomers. Cheers to them as well as to director John Tiffany and musical supervisor Martin Lowe for not radically changing or distorting Once in the stage transfer. – MP

Pretty Filthy

Pretty-Filthy-editOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 2016 (Ghostlight) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) Here’s a musical comedy about the porn industry, created by the New York-based theater company The Civilians, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Fortress of Solitude, Love’s Labours Lost) and a book by Bess Wohl.  One of the best things about the show is its title, which strikes just the right tone of light humor and sweet naughtiness that’s skillfully maintained almost throughout the proceedings, despite the fact that so much of the content is, indeed, pretty filthy. Song titles include “Waiting for Wood,” “Fuck The World,” and “Squirting 101,” and here’s a sample lyric from the opening number: “Most girls give blowjobs to guys they barely know at college parties.” Although the controversial “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” label is not affixed to this recording, it applies in spades — but honestly,  why would anyone who decides to purchase the cast album of a show about “adult entertainment” expect anything else? Some of the melodies Friedman created for this unusual project are very tuneful, but a salient feature of the show — some would say its main problem — is that many of the quotes of the porn actors, directors, and producers seem to have been set to music practically verbatim, with only a little modification and a few rhymes and repetitions thrown in to make them more lyric-like. As a result, significant stretches of the score sound prosaic, and often there’s a sense of too many words having been crammed into each measure of music. Still, there’s a lot of illicit, edgy fun to be had here, thanks in no small part to the perfectly gauged performances of a talented cast: John Behlmann as “Fredo/Jimmy Wood,” Lulu Fall as “Dana,” Alyse Alan Louis as “Becky/Taylor,”  Luba Mason as “Georgina Congress,” Maria-Christina Oliveras as “Carrie/Holly Donovan,” Steve Rosen as “Sam Speigel/Jeff/Oscar Gerhard,” Marrick Smith as “Bobby/Dick,” and Jared Zirilli as “Nick Harding.” — Michael Portantiere


NewsiesOriginal Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1992 (Walt Disney) 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) Listening to the soundtrack recording of  this 1992 movie that starred a young Christian Bale (well before his days headlining much darker films) and Ann-Margret (an ever-alluring presence on screen and disc), you’d be hard-pressed to understand how it might ever be transformed into a Tony-nominated stage musical. Yes, there are small glimmers of terrific music by Alan Menken and clever lyrics by Jack Feldman, notably in such songs as “Santa Fe” and “The World Will Know.” For the most part, however, everything here feels and sounds overblown and forced, from the performers’ exaggerated “Noo Yawk” accents to the often thundering orchestrations provided by Thomas Pasatieri and Danny Troob, the latter of whom would go on to do some marvelous work for the Broadway incarnation of the tuner. Newsies was actually a flop when originally released to theaters, and only later gained great popularity through home video. For completists (and Ann-Margret fans), there are a couple of numbers, “My Lovey-Dovey Baby” and “High Times, Hard Times,” which didn’t make it to Broadway. And for the generation that fell in love with musicals because of this movie, the soundtrack recording remains something to be cherished. For everyone else, though, it’s best to stick with the Broadway cast album. — Andy Propst

NewsiesOriginal Broadway Cast, 2012 (Ghostlight) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Alan Menken employs a semi-period, semi-contemporary musical vocabulary for this stage version of the 1992 Disney film of the same title, to terrific effect, and Jack Feldman’s lyrics have a verve and wit that match the melodies beautifully. For those who grew up on the film about a newsboys’ strike against newspaper owner Joseph Pulitzer, the Broadway cast recording has most of the songs that they loved from the movie score, including the soaring “Santa Fe” and the rousing anthem “Seize the Day,” plus a large handful of new ones written specifically for the stage show. Something else this album has that the film soundtrack doesn’t is the enormously appealing presence of Jeremy Jordan, who, beyond sounding terrific from a musical/vocal standpoint, brings a great balance of streetwise toughness and vulnerability to his portrayal of the strikers’ leader, Jack Kelly. Other fine work includes Kara Lindsay’s smartly pert performance as a girl reporter who becomes Jack’s love interest, and Capathia Jenkins’ saucy turn as a music hall performer. The odd thing about the recording is that the show’s big dance numbers appear twice — once each in truncated form, then again as bonus tracks in full versions with dance breaks that feature Mark Himmel’s arrangements, excitingly orchestrated by Danny Troob. Having the complete tracks at the end of the album means that listeners who want to get a full sense of the show, or to re-experience what they saw in the theater, have to set up a special playlist with the proper run order. It’s cumbersome, and it ultimately detracts from the recording’s ability to genuinely communicate the thrill that live audiences got from this sleeper hit. — A.P.

Next to Normal

Next-to-NormalOriginal Broadway Cast, 2009 (Sh-K-Boom) 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) If Spring Awakening marked the successful comeback of the original pop/rock musical theater score, then Next to Normal helped insure its future. Part of the reason for the show’s success is that, despite its vibrant energy, it’s a very intimate piece that wears its large heart earnestly on its sleeve. The musical tells of the inner turmoil of a suburban family due to the mental instability of the mother, Diana, who has struggled with bipolar disorder ever since a traumatizing event years earlier: Her son, Gabe, whom she still imagines to be present, died when he was a baby. Although the plot at times borders on being that of a Lifetime Movie, the smart, pulsating score, given a crisp representation on this recording, keeps Next to Normal fresh and inventive. Brian Yorkey’s lyrics are strong and well defined, often bringing a touch of humor to cut the tension in the plot (for example, “My Psychopharmacologist and I”). Tom Kitt composed a score with both fire (“You Don’t Know,” “Didn’t I See This Movie”) and sweet sadness (“I Miss the Mountains”) that he orchestrated excellently with Michael Starobin, making the work electric yet still inherently theatrical. The cast, on the whole, is excellent. Alice Ripley tears into the role of Diana with an abandon that’s fearless, thrilling and at times unnerving. Occasionally, the performer seems so at one with the part that you might fear she won’t even make it to the end of the number — but she always does. J. Robert Spencer is very moving as the silently suffering husband, Dan, and so is Jennifer Damiano as daughter Natalie. Because of the surprises in the plot, listeners who haven’t seen the show will find it especially important to read the synopsis included in the CD booklet in order to make full sense of the story and songs such as “I’m Alive” and “There’s a World,” both sung by Gabe (Aaron Tveit). But they’ll have no problem understanding the emotional potency of each song. — Matt Koplik

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

NatashaOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 2013 (Ghostlight) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Some musical theater writers have had great difficulty adapting epic, classic novels for the stage: Doctor Zhivago, Jane Eyre, East of Eden, etc. The trouble is, how do you sing a thousand pages or so in two and half hours (or even three hours) without rushing through the story and shortchanging the emotional gravity of the characters? In adapting Tolstoy’s War and Peace as a musical, writer/performer Dave Malloy chose to solve this problem by focusing on a single chapter of the huge novel and expanding it, rather than attempting to condense the entire work. The result is Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, one of the most fascinating and fulfilling scores in recent years. Malloy’s music weaves an elaborate tapestry of wildly varied colors and styles, with influences ranging from Rachmaninoff to ’80s club beats and including everything in between. Songs like the beautiful “No One Else,” the pulsating “Balaga,” or the intense “In My House” couldn’t be more different from each other in many ways — and yet, thanks to Malloy’s smart storytelling and endlessly inventive orchestrations, they all seem part of one score and one vision. As a lyricist, Malloy is quite good, if not as audaciously adventurous as he is musically. His lyrics flexibly move from recitative to poetically mystical musings to characters singing their own stage directions (examples: “Anatole followed in his usual jaunty step,” “I blush happily”). Malloy is also smart enough to know when to directly quote Tolstoy’s vivid prose, and indeed, that’s when the lyrics are at their best. The cast, headed by a pre-Hamilton Phillipa Soo as Natasha and Malloy as Pierre, is fantastic. They craftily embody Tolstoy’s characters with the contemporary spin Malloy has written for them. Soo, in particular, leads the way with a performance that’s stunning in its vocal beauty and non-cloying innocence. Natasha, Pierre enjoyed a successful run Off-Broadway (the basis of this recording) and, after a few false starts, finally came Broadway in the fall of 2016. The Great White Way is more exciting for it. (See review below.) — Matt Koplik

NatashaBroadway Cast, 2017 (Reprise) 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 was slightly revised for its transfer to Broadway. Dave Malloy performed some minor surgery on the score, primarily in Act 1, where certain sections are shortened (“The Private and Intimate Life of the House”), tweaked (“The Duel”), or rewritten altogether (“Sunday Morning”). The changes are relatively small in sum, but their impact is immense. Only the expansion of “The Abduction” (adding an extra three minutes) is a slight misstep, as that sequence now overstays its welcome before finally plunging into “In My House.” Malloy also appropriately expanded his vocal arrangements for a larger ensemble, and did some light re-orchestrating for a more sizeable orchestra; the sound is now even more lush than before, but not overwhelming. The majority of the supporting cast is the same here as on the Off Broadway recording, and having now lived with their roles for three years (on and off), most have improved their performances. Brittain Ashford, especially, makes a stronger impression here with a more defined, energetic Sonya, and Lucas Steele provides an even more exotic Anatole, bringing extra heat to the recording. The biggest casting changes are in the two title roles: singing superstar Josh Groban is Pierre, and newcomer Denee Benton is Natasha. Though Benton has a smooth, clear voice, it doesn’t reach the same heights as Phillipa Soo’s; nor is Benton’s performance as endearing as her predecessor’s, and she tends to emphasize Natasha’s naiveté in broad strokes. Still, she does well in quieter moments such as “No One Else,” and in “Pierre and Natasha” with Groban, who brings a great deal of soul to the recording. While Malloy more fully inhabits the “everyman” characteristic of Pierre on the Off-Broadway album, Groban’s voice is stronger and more passionate, his performance deeply moving. Groban also gets a wonderful new song: “Dust and Ashes,” Pierre’s fierce plea to wake from his existential coma. Though some fans of the previous recording may miss Soo’s performance, this one is the definitive representation of Dave Malloy’s masterwork. — M.K.

Over Here!

Over-HereOriginal Broadway Cast, 1974 (Columbia /Sony) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) Designed to do for the 1940s what Grease did for the 1950s, Over Here! is a supremely silly tale of romance and espionage on a cross-country train loaded with volunteers, war workers, and Nazi sympathizers. It was a vehicle for the two surviving Andrews Sisters, Patty and Maxene. The score, by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, is a pastiche of the period’s hit parade; you’ll hear echoes if not actual excerpts of”Take the ‘A’ Train,” “The Beer Barrel Polka,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” among other songs. It’s all good fun, thanks to the Andrewses, a very strong supporting cast, and electrifying orchestrations by Michael Gibson and Jim Tyler that create an irresistible, big-band frenzy. The opening ballad, “Since You’re Not Around,” strikes the right note of agreeable nostalgia; then April Shawhan and John Driver score with “My Dream for Tomorrow.” The surprisingly tough-minded “Don’t Shoot the Hooey to Me, Louie,” delivered by Samuel E. Wright, touches on the period’s racism. Janie Sell amusingly spoofs Marlene Dietrich in “Wait for Me, Marlena,” and the young John Travolta is smooth as silk in “Dream Drummin’.” The Andrews gals are ebullient in such numbers as “The Big Beat,” “We Got It!” and the title tune. Most of their solos are also effective, but you’ll weep for Patty when she is forced to deliver the sex-hygiene number “The Good-Time Girl,” in which she urges soldiers to avoid “The VD Polka” (“The enemy can sock us / By spreading gonococcus”). Note that the incredible supporting cast of Over Here! included Ann Reinking, Treat Williams, and Marilu Henner, none of whom are heard on this recording in any recognizable way. — David Barbour