WICKED, STARRING KRISTIN CHENOWETH, IDINA MENZEL AND JOEL GREY. Decca Broadway proudly presents the original cast recording of WICKED, Broadway's most talked about new musical. The box office is already over $10 Million! With a score by Stephen Schwartz (Broadway's Pippin, Godspell), libretto by Winnie Holzman (TV's My So-Called Life) and based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, the musical is a prequel to the legendary classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ. WICKED explores the early life of the witches of Oz: Glinda and Elphaba. One witch, born with emerald green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. WICKED stars Tony AwardÂ® winner Kristin Chenoweth (You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown) as Glinda, Idina Menzel (Rent) as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and TonyÂ® and OscarÂ® Winner Joel Grey (Cabaret) as The Wizard. The Original Cast Recording -- featuring an essay by Wicked novelist Gregory Maguire, original color photos from the show and a complete libretto. One of the most common complaints about musicals is that the books are flimsy pretexts from which to hang numbers. Wicked runs into the opposite problem: it has a great plot, but too often the songs just get in the way. Based on Gregory Maguire's novel of the same name, Wicked tells us what happened between Glinda the Good and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, before Dorothy showed up in Oz. And the show is lucky to boast a pair of ace leading women in the main roles. As Glinda, Kristin Chenoweth delivers a sensational star turn, displaying a crystal-pure voice and sharp comic timing; Idina Menzel lends her powerful pipes to the tricky role of Elphaba. Unfortunately, you wish they had better material to work with. Stephen Schwartz's pop score is often dragged down by overly synthetic orchestrations and sentimental lyrics (think Chicken Soup for the Witch). Still, at its best Wicked is a seductive slice of popular entertainment that could well give a younger audience a lasting taste for mu...
Promising to be this holiday season's family film blockbuster, the revolutionary computer-animated The Polar Express-based on a best-selling children's book, starring the voice of Tom Hanks and directed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis-is a classic Christmas film with a modern look. The soundtrack album also mixes the classic with the contemporary, with immortal versions of the greatest Christmas songs ever penned, such as "White Christmas" from Bing Crosby and new recordings from Josh Groban "Believe", Aerosmith's Steven Tyler "Rockin' On Top Of The World" and others. This Christmas everyone will be getting on board The Polar Express. In adapting Chris Van Allsburg's beloved, 1986 Caldecott Medal winning children's Christmas fable, director Robert Zemeckis fused the technologies of live-action motion capture and CGI to an unprecedented degree, producing a visual sensibility that perfectly embodies the netherworld between fantasy and reality that made the book so inviting. Musically, Zemeckis has shrewdly teamed longtime collaborator Alan Silvestri with hit tunesmith Glen Ballard for the original half his soundtrack, then given the rest over to a star-packed tribute to pop Christmas past that includes such timeless chestnuts as Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland" by the Andrew Sisters and Perry Como's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." But the Silvestri/Ballard originals here are the main event, from Tom Hanks' vigorous vocal mugging on the title track and "Hot Chocolate" through the innocent charm of "When Christmas Comes to Town" and the over-the-top, jumpin' jive of Steven Tyler's "Rockin' On Top of the World." Josh Groban's "Believe" overdoes the treacle, but Silvestri's rich choral workouts and underscore suite are grand Hollywood-scaled tributes to the spirit of the season. Also available in a deluxe, illustrated children's book format gift edition that includes an actual encased jingle bell embedded in the cover. --Jerry McCulley
"Hamilton" - which transferred to Broadway following a sold-out run at The Public Theater in NYC - is the acclaimed new musical about the scrappy young immigrant Alexander Hamilton, the $10 Founding Father who forever changed America with his revolutionary ideas and actions. During his life cut too short, he served as George Washington's chief aide, was the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, a loving husband and father, despised by his fellow Founding Fathers, and shot to death by Aaron Burr in a legendary duel. The "HAMILTON (ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING)" is executive produced by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, founding members of the Grammy Award winning hip-hop band, The Roots. "HAMILTON" has book, music and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer Lin Manuel Miranda, who also plays the title role. The musical is directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire. "HAMILTON" is inspired by Ron Chernow's biography "Alexander Hamilton."
The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)
It's the most successful musical of all time, the best-selling cast album ever-and now it sounds better than ever! The cast album of the original 1986 London production (with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman) has been remastered by none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber; this 2-CD set also includes a new 56-page companion booklet. The Phantom lives!
SOUNDTRACK MOULIN ROUGE Nicole Kidman playing a singing prostitute? Ewan McGregor channeling the Police? If the soundtrack to director Baz Luhrmann's freakish musical Moulin Rouge has its way, we'll all be wearing corsets and swinging from the ceiling while the former Mrs. Tom Cruise becomes our favorite new pop sensation. As daring as Luhrmann himself, the compositions test Kidman--who could have easily used a league of backup singers and studio knob-twiddlers to hide her inexperience--and she actually passes. She's no Olivia Newton-John, but she capably mixes Madonna's "Material Girl" with "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (which is as breathy as Marilyn would've wanted it to be) and goes full throttle on any medley thrown her way. Her cover of "One Day I'll Fly Away" is especially poignant given her much-publicized personal tragedies. Ewan, though, is a real star; his giggly schoolboy brogue morphs into a fun cradle for Paul McCartney's Wings as well as U2's Bono on "Elephant Love Medley." Beck's cover of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" is a hit waiting to happen, while Pattie LaBelle's '70s staple "Lady Marmalade" (remade by an all-star cast of divas, Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera among them) already is. A delicious, racy soundtrack that is equal parts cabaret, glam rock, and trip-hop, Moulin Rouge doesn't disappoint. -Kristy Martin
Jersey Boys (2005 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Manufacturer: Rhino Records
Recounting the rich history and reliving the timeless sounds of the phenomenal Frankie Vallie & The 4 Seasons, the new Broadway musical Jersey Boys answers the musical-and philosophical question, "How did four would-be wise guys from Newark, NJ, become one of the greatest chart-topping successes in pop music history?" Jersey Boys celebrates legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi who, as the 4 seasons, wrote their own songs, invented their own identity, and sold 175 million records worldwide-all before they were 30. Although it squarely falls in the "jukebox musical" category, Jersey Boys doesnÂ¹t try to integrate its songs in an artificial plotline. The show tells the story of the early-1960s group the Four Seasons, and the musical numbers tend to be introduced in context, as when songwriter Bob Gaudio comes up with a tune, or the quartet performs a show. This allows Jersey Boys to flow better than some of ill-fated peers, and the actors can shine without having to bend backward to accommodate an inane book. The show's most (only) daring move is to start with a hip-hop-tinged French-language version of "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," an actual hit in France in 2000. After that it's all VH1-biopic territory, but it's done with so much flair, taste and energy that the ride's a fun one. The Four Seasons had enough hits ("Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Rag Doll," etc.) to easily fill an evening at the theater, so it's left to the cast to do right by them. And it does, particularly John Lloyd Young as the bandÂ¹s star lead, Frankie Valli. Young hits all the falsetto notes and brings real freshness to the part. His "CanÂ¹t Take My Eyes Off You," a second-act peak, is signed, sealed and delivered with a star's acumen. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
The Phantom of the Opera (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Manufacturer: Sony Classical / Sony Music Soundtrax
Expanded edition includes a bonus disc with 11 tracks. For better or worse, Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Gaston Leroux's gothic horror/romance novel has done for stage musicals what Spielberg's Jaws did for fish stories, with worldwide sales of its original cast album approaching 25 million. While director Joel Schumacher's film turns on his typically ambitious visual verve, its new film soundtrack recording has been paradoxically focused in scope, yet beefed up dynamically via the brawny presence of a hundred piece orchestra and the London Boys Choir. This deluxe, double-disc version showcases all of Phantom's key songs, with Gerard Butler imparting a welcome, youthful sensuality to his Phantom, making a fine foil for Emmy Rossum's ever-conflicted Christine. Original show orchestrator David Cullen has fashioned compelling new contemporary arrangements to frame Webber's songs--which now conclude with the lilting, upbeat new ballad he wrote for the film, "Learn to Be Lonely," sung by Minnie Driver. --Jerry McCulley
Brand: Warner Bros
The soundtrack to the most anticipated film of the holiday season features two new songs from Enya, one of the most successful female artists in history (having sold nearly 40 million albums worldwide) and a score by Howard Shore (The Silence Of The Lambs, Ed Wood). "The Fellowship Of The Ring," the first in a trilogy of fantasy epics based on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings series, is expected to be a blockbuster - and its soundtrack album popular far beyond Middle Earth. Certified Gold by the RIAA. (1/02) Score composer Howard Shore has informed this first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with his distinctly modern sensibilities. Revolving loosely around a brief, heroic brass theme, this epic is infused with a powerful rhythmic thrust and a musical range that encompasses centuries (from the Renaissance pastoralism of "Concerning Hobbits" to the fiery, Prokofiev-influenced drama of "A Knife in the Dark"). Key to the score's sense of mystery and magical place are the rich choral passages that are interspersed throughout, some so ominously gothic they make The Phantom Menace's "Duel of the Fates" sound almost sunny by comparison. Enya's contributions ("The Council of Elrond" and the song "May It Be") add a sense of organic tranquility, but it's Shore's Wagnerian-scaled orchestral score that should long be cherished by admirers of film music and hobbits alike. --Jerry McCulley
Into Broadway's creative vacuum of revivals, movie adaptations, and Hollywood star vehicles comes Rent, the story of squatters, junkies, performance artists, struggling musicians, drag queens, aspiring filmmakers, and HIV-positives (and you thought Miss Saigon's helicopter landing was cool). Undoubtedly among the defining pop cultural events of 1996, Rent has already won four Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. More importantly, it threatens to bring substance back to the Great White Way. Transposing Puccini's 100-year-old opera La BohÃ¨me into modern day Bohemia (19th-century Paris's Left Bank becomes late-20th-century New York's East Village where the scourge of tuberculosis becomes the plague of AIDS) Rent celebrates life among the young, sick, and unconventional. While Broadway shows are hardly the place for authentic portrayals of the latest marginalized hipsters, composer Jonathan Larson (who died at age 36, days before his musical opened) managed to sculpt vivid characters and scenes that bring Avenue A as close as it will ever come to 42nd Street. And by telling a socially relevant story of living without the guarantee of a future (renting, that is), Larson does his own little bit to define an X'ed generation. At worst, Rent is the Hair of the '90s. For the majority of us who won't be seeing Rent anytime soon, the Original Cast Recording is more than just an after-show souvenir. Well-packaged with a complete libretto, the two-CD set is a worthwhile album separate of live performance. Full of songs that are funny and catchy, inspiring and touching, smart and hip and not overly sentimental, Rent mixes show tune pop with elements of rock, R&B, dance, gospel, and tango to make one of the best albums of the year--certainly the best rock opera in decades. Into Broadway's creative vacuum of revivals, movie adaptations, and Hollywood star vehicles comes Rent, the story of squatters, junkies, performance artists, struggling musicians, drag queens, aspiring filmmakers, and HIV-positives (and you thought M...
The 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and nine 2011 Tony AwardsÂ® say it's the Best Musical of the Year. Vogue says, "It's the funniest musical of all time." And The New York Times says, "It's the best musical of this century." It's THE BOOK OF MORMON, the Broadway musical from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez. The Daily Show's Jon Stewart calls it "A crowning achievement. So good, it makes me angry."