Cast Album Review: "James and the Giant Peach"
Another review is up, this one a bit belated: James and the Giant Peach, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (book by Timothy Allen McDonald).
I've played a lot of Pasek and Paul songs over the years. Most of them have been from Edges, their first musical (a revue of sorts, written while they were still in college). I've enjoyed playing those songs, but always felt they got a little long-winded. When I first heard Dogfight I thought, "YES! These guys get it. They know how to write for the theatre." There is a light year's of difference between Edges and Dogfight. You can still hear their voices, but they're more mature, more developed, more sophisticated.
When I first heard JATGP, I got excited again. I truly believe that Pasek and Paul are the best of the younger songwriting generation. Their songs have clear form, smart lyrics (with no awkward rhyming, something some current Broadway shows should try), and - as vague as this word is - honesty.
JATGP is written for younger audiences and - in some versions available to license - for younger performers, but Pasek and Paul didn't write down for younger people. The songs are not easy (listen to "Middle of a Moment" for a hint). I'm hoping I'll get the opportunity to see a production of this soon.