With streaming theatre productions proving to be immensely popular, the other way to get your theatre fix is by listening to original cast recordings. Here’s a few of Love London Love Culture’s favourites…
An American in Paris: featuring the gorgeous music of George Gershwin, this is such a classy soundtrack that is difficult not to love. Songs such as ‘S’Wonderful’ and ‘I got Rhythm’ are just a couple of the highlights in this romantic sounding score. The cast on the soundtrack includes Robert Fairchild as Jerry Mulligan, Leanne Cope as Lise Dassin and Jill Paice as Milo Davenport. Ideal listening if you love a classic musical.
American Idiot: for those who like their musicals with a bit more of an edge, this musical based on the original Green Day album is a definite standout one. Featuring all the songs from the album including ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ , ‘Holiday’ and ‘Extraordinary Girl’, this is an album that is electrifying to listen to from start to finish.
Legally Blonde: based on the hit film, perhaps its not an obvious choice for a musical makeover – but it really does surprisingly work. With songs such as ‘There! Right! There!’ and ‘Omigod You Guys’ providing plenty of laughs, there is a more sincere side to the music with songs such as ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘Chip on My Shoulder’ grounding the musical.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical: from the second the film was released in the early 2000’s it was always clear that this was meant to become a stage musical. But rather than just simply recreating the film – the musical has created some genius combinations of popular songs adding an even more contemporary vibe that is really enjoyable. For example songs such as ‘The Sparkling Diamond’ and ‘Elephant Love Medley’ has mixed things up even further from the originals used in the film to ensure there is something for everyone.
Half a Sixpence: originating at the Chichester Festival Theatre, this West End transfer proved immensely popular with audiences and critics alike. The soundtrack is so exquisitely English that it can’t help but charm – particularly with songs such as ‘If the Rain’s Got to Fall’ or ‘Pick out a Simple Tune’ with its playful music that makes you long for its return to the West End.
& Juliet: it maybe more of a recent addition to the London theatre scene but for those who grew up in the early 2000’s this is a soundtrack filled with some of the biggest and best known songs by Max Martin. Perhaps the idea of remixing the story of Romeo & Juliet combined with some well known pop songs doesn’t sound right on paper – but actually it really does and leads to a really lively soundtrack and story that blend well together.
Top Hat: elegant, funny and sophisticated this charming musical based on the film starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire had plenty to recommend it when it was in London and on its subsequent UK tour – not only the dancing but of course Irving Berlin’s memorable songs that so wonderfully sweep the audience into another era.
42nd Street: the West End’s most recent revival of this musical within a musical story was filled with spectacular dance routines, glamour and an extraordinarily large cast that consistently delivered. This soundtrack is filled with high quality performances – not least from Clare Halse as Peggy, Tom Lister as Julian Marsh and Sheena Easton as Dorothy Brock. The cast recording really manages to reflect the atmosphere and sheer joy that seeing this show live brought.
Tina – the Tina Turner Musical: if there is one extraordinary reason to listen to this album then it is Adrienne Warren as Tina. Her vocals really astound on this album – particularly if you listen to ‘ River Deep Mountain High’ or ‘(Simply) the Best’ for example. But elsewhere, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is also impressive as Ike Turner – listen out for ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Matchbox’ that catch the deadly undertones of his character’s charm perfectly. The whole cast have a fantastic energy as evidenced on this album and able to put own spin on these well known songs to great effect.
Anastasia: while the musical has adapted the original film plot to make it more historically accurate – the majority of the classic songs in the film have remained. Christine Altomare’s performances of ‘Journey to the Past’ and ‘Once Upon a December’ are beautifully wistful, while the new numbers such as ‘The Neva Flows and ‘Still’ are lovely new additions that fit in well with the story. Now we just have to wait and see what the show is like when it (hopefully) comes across to the UK.
By Emma Clarendon