“‘Send in the Clowns’ was never meant to be a soaring ballad; it’s a song of regret. And it’s a song of a lady who is too upset and too angry to speak-meaning to sing for a very long time. She is furious, but she doesn’t want to make a scene […] So she gives up; so it’s a song of regret and anger, and therefore fits in with short-breathed phrases.”— Stephen Sondheim (via hismajestythebitch)
Yesterday, Jennifer Tepper (one of the brains behind the brilliant “If It Only Even Runs a Minute" concerts) tweeted about having a moment of silence for the cut songs from Follies. I retorted that no other musical’s cut songs have been as frequently recorded at Follies, and if we really wanted to mourn lost songs, let’s focus our attention on Bells Are Ringing. Regardless, that managed to get the song “The World Is Full Of Girls” (aka “C’est Moi”) stuck in my head. So I went to Spotify hoping to find the Paper Mill Playhouse recording of the score so I could listen to the song and feed the earworm. [Irony: The song isn’t included on the Paper Mill Playhouse recording, despite its lengthy appendix of cut songs.]
Well, it turns out Spotify doesn’t have the Papermill Playhouse recording, but I did discover something totally unexpected. The London Theatre Orchestra & Cast has released their own recording of Follies. Apparently, they released the album in 2009, but no one’s been talking about it. There’s probably a reason for that. The London Theatre Orchestra & Cast is an outfit known for shlocky, cut-rate quickie studio cast albums of popular shows. But that’s exactly why this should be news: Follies has somehow joined the likes of Annie, Grease, Hairspray and The Lion King in meriting a shlocky, cut-rate quickie studio cast album. As far as I can remember, this is the first Sondheim show to merit such a thing, at least in this generation. (It strikes me as odd that no one did a schlocky cover of Into the Woods, but I don’t remember one.)
Now, in case I wasn’t clear, this album isn’t good. The singers are occasionally out of sync with the “orchestra,” and the “orchestra” seems to be a Casio Keyboard circa 1984 (with built-in drum machine!). I’m not convinced the parts are played by the same singers from track to track. And the text, as it were, is a weird mix of the American and British versions of the show. (For example, "In Buddy’s Eyes" ”Don’t Look At Me” has the American lyrics but is capped by Ben’s closing line from the London version; the Loveland sequence follows the London progression but uses “Live, Laugh, Love” instead of “Make the Most of Your Music.”)
Perhaps most strangely, there are two versions of the album available. The Londond Theatre Orchestra edition, which includes “Buddy’s Blues,” and the Silver Stage Orchestra & Cast, which drops “Buddy’s Blues” but includes the trio of “Rain on the Roof,” “Ah, Paris!” and “Broadway Baby.” (One wonders if there’s an even fuller schlocky recording that is the joint source for both of these albums, but if there is, I haven’t found it yet.)
Naturally, I went straight to Amazon to download a combination of both albums so I could have the maximum experience.
I wasn’t sure what to share first, but “Live, Laugh, Love” best encapsulates the experience of listening to the album… moments of greatness and moments of ridiculousness all set to inappropriately driving rhythms and horrendously synthesized orchestrations.
This is unquestionably camp, but camp of the best kind.
Another track from Tom Michael’s new album, Let Me Be Your Home. Two-part harmony is hard to pull off, and I’m not entirely sure this is successful. But it’s nice to hear an original take on “Somewhere,” not really based on the show arrangement or the Streisand space-scape version.
(If you missed it yesterday, here’s his lovely “So Many People" from Saturday Night.)
I can’t say I’d ever heard of Tom Michael before LML sent me his CD, Let Me Be Your Home. The album as a whole is fairly understated, but this track really hit me. Of course, “So Many People” is a song that benefits from understatement. (More on this CD to come.)
“All those Madonna songs” = three Madonna songs, plus one Mel Torme song and one Ladies of the Manhattan Transfer song. But I don’t disagree that Dick Tracy would make a great stage musical.
How can I possibly disagree with this?
I will further point out that there are 2 entire albums of material that were “inspired” by the film and further, several songs from the Dick Tracy soundtrack WERE used in the film, if just as background noise, including the tracks tracks by Erasure, Al Jarreau, and Jerry Lee Lewis—not just the Manhattan Transfer and Mel Torme songs (which were NOT on the soundtrack).
Yes, but Sondheim only wrote the five songs I (and the previous poster) referred to. Threaded conversation, everyone!
And they were on the soundtrack, in the original sense of “the part of the movie that you hear,” although they were not on either of the soundtrack album releases. (Both tracks have since been released on various compilation albums such as Mel Torme at the Movies and Stephen Sondheim: The Story So Far.)
Pretty much none of the other songs featured on the soundtrack album or Madonna’s I’m Breathless would be appropriate for a traditional stage musical, in that they aren’t written for the characters’ voices or period of the story. Not that such limitations have prevented any number of other stage productions.
for number 5, a song which makes you happy I have gone back and forth. Many songs make me happy. But I decided to choose a song that always makes me so happy whenever I hear it. I always happily smile and begin singing it. It is of course, A Weekend in the Country. I love A Little Night Music.
‘City On Fire’ from Act 2 of Sweeney Todd - Performed by Caroline O’Connor and Rod Gilfry.
Ensemble Orchestral de Paris.
Live from Théâtre du Châtelet.
“better you to think she was dead - YES I *LIED* because I *LOVE* you! I’d be *TWICE* the wife she was, I love you! Could that *THING* have cared for you like *ME*?!”
I wanted to share this because O’Connor is exquisite as Lovett. Of course this was the intention, but her portrayal is just deliciously evil, original and so complex. It’s the best recorded version I’ve heard - all at once it’s scornful, desperate, but uniquely, it’s really angry. She’s not a push-over Lovett who tries to gloss over the fact she’s manipulated Sweeney the whole time, she openly admits it, and it’s chilling that she can’t comprehend that Sweeney could possibly love anyone except herself.
I really can’t communicate just how excellent O’Connor is…
“Bow before the fucking king of musical theatre.” - you all know who said that.
cute. although a link back to me would be even cuter.
“Rarely if ever has a living Broadway composer been honored so much for his past and so little for his present. He’s the musical theater’s ultimate example of an oldies act. Nobody wants to sponsor his latest, possibly most mature works. Only the classics, please.
The Sondheim conundrum is that his lyrics are often so complex, they have to be heard twice — on the cast album, after the show has closed. The corollary is that his musicals are more acceptable as revivals than as originals.”—TIME Magazine on Sondheim (via thethundersaid)
The most amazing thing to me about this production was how different Patti’s characterization of Mrs. Lovett was from her previous attempt with the Philharmonic. And by different I mean “unbelievably better.”
So I noticed you have been featuring "Don't Laugh" quite a lot recently. I was watching the Sondheim Birthday Concert with my friend Melanie recently, and this song caught her ear as something she might want to use as a performance piece, so I did some googling for sheet music and came up empty. Any idea as to some lesser-known sheet-music resources that might have it? I am really not sure where to look
I used to have great luck ordering from Hollywood Sheet Music. If you don’t see what you want on their website, call the store and talk to a human being. They might be able to track it down and send it to you.
In honor of the casting of Brent Barrett as Ben in the Chicago production of Follies, here’s his rendition of “Make the Most of Your Music,” the song that replaced “Live, Laugh, Love” in the original London production of the show.
I am new enough to Spotify that I’m not entirely sure how the music-sharing functions work, but I’m excited to try them out. I’ve got a few playlists that I think are public, and I know you can send songs/albums to individuals. So connect with me (my user id is itsdlevy) and let me know if you can see the public playlists.
If you’d like me to send you cool stuff to your Spotify inbox, leave a note in my ask here (and specify, I don’t know, Sondheim or non-Sondheim?)….
This came up on shuffle and I had to look at the screen to figure out which recording it was. This album as a whole is sort of an uneven mess, but there are some gems in there, like this track featuring Wally Kurth.