Something’s Afoot

Studio Cast, 2020 (JAY Records) 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) Nearly 50 years after the show’s opening and short-lived stint on Broadway in 1976, this long-awaited studio recording captures the highs and lows of Something’s Afoot, a musical modeled to spoof the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, with particular allusion to Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. The characters, all British stereotypes, are knocked off one by one, and the dialogue on the album does an adequate job of conveying the story beats to the listener. Alas, despite a genre ripe for spoofing, as well as the apparent nostalgia some fans feel for this show, the songs are uninteresting for the most part. Both the music and lyrics are strikingly repetitive, and each song overstays its welcome by a verse or two. The capable cast includes several stage veterans of the West End: Sally Ann Triplett, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Jim Dale, and Susie Blake. They all do their best, but are often forced to resort to over-the-top characterizations in order to sell the mediocre material. Blake plays the show’s primary sleuth, and gets the best songs here. While the score is hardly a rediscovered treasure, other highlights include the jaunty “I Owe It All” and the sweet-sounding but dark finale, “A New Day.” On the other hand, the euphemism-filled  “Dinghy” falls completely flat. Those who are already fans of the show from its brief runs on Broadway and then in London will enjoy this recording, but it seems unlikely to win over any new listeners. — Forrest Hutchinson