Andrei Strizek

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Filtering by Tag: cast album

New review: "John & Jen" 2015 off-Broadway cast album

I just posted a review of John & Jen over at This is the new cast album, with Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan in the title (and only) roles. I saw the show back in February, and it was stunning; they are phenomenal actors and singers and that really comes across on this recording. I wish they hadn't written new orchestrations for the album because they are too much for this score. (The production earlier this year used the show's original orchestrations, without the percussion part, so just piano and cello.) I also think that this is Lippa's strongest piece of musical theatre, when looking at complete works - funny how it is also his first piece of musical theatre.

This is a wonderful recording and one that should not be passed up.

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.

James and the Giant Peach is a FREE download, and the cast album has a ton of Broadway stars. Check out my full review at, and download the album.


Cast Album Review: "Two's Company"

I have a new review posted over at CastAlbums.orgTwo's Company, a 1952 revue starring Bette Davis. It's a pleasant album, but one that definitely shows its age (and demonstrates how much Bette Davis was not a singer).

I applaud efforts to remaster, restore, and release albums of shows that have been forgotten. Will this be a big seller? No. Will it likely just end up in the collections of the most die-hard fans? Yes. But that's better than it being left by the wayside and ignored.

This album also shows two things that are still readily seen on Broadway today: one, that a team of creatives at their prime, with a solid track record of success, might not always produce a great musical; two, that even shows that were popular in their time can be forgotten as the years go on. What is popular today might easily fade away in five years, only to be remembered by the most enthusiastic of fans.

Album Review: "Stages" by Josh Groban

My review of Josh Groban's seventh album Stages, devoted exclusively to musical theatre music, is up on Spoiler alert: I wasn't a fan of the album, mostly because each song blurred into the next. The album needs more variety in its arrangements.

Also, this was my first review to garner a comment! Someone disagreed with my take on the album, but glancing through other reviews on the Internet, I'm not too surprised: I seem to have written one of the few less-than-positive reviews out there.

I wish Groban would have been a little more adventurous in his programming and arrangements. He has proven his artistry and developed a fan base; now would be the perfect time for him to vary his routine. Anyone who follows Groban on Twitter or has seen his talk show appearances knows that he has a sense of humor and lively personality. I miss that on this album. A little humor or wit could have made the entire project stronger.

Cast Album Review: "Tamar of the River"

I've started writing album reviews for My first piece was on Tamar of the River, an off-Broadway show written by Marisa Michelson & Joshua H. Cohen and featuring Margo Seibert. It's a beautiful postmodern score, unlike most other cast albums you'll hear. As I wrote, its clear the composer owes a debt to Meredith Monk, and this work would find a comfortable home in a Roomful of Teeth program, but it's also quite original in its writing.

Side note: About a week after this was published, I got a Facebook notification from a friend. I was mentioned in a comment after Maria Michelson found this review and posted it. Her reaction was positive, as were the comments of her friends (some of whom had worked on the show in some capacity or another). It's weird to know that the creators read my review (not that I expected them to ignore it if they came upon it); it's difficult to write if you think that the composer is looking over your shoulder, reading what you write. But it made me feel good to know that my review was read, respected, appreciated, and shared.

Stay tuned for more reviews - I have a few albums coming down the line, and I'll share them here when they're published.

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