CD Reviews – Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, Ben Stock, On the 20th Century, Jeanne the Musical

NICK WAKEHAM casts an eye over some of the latest CD releases.

Goldilocks_8pp_Booklet.inddGOLDILOCKS AND THE 3 BEARS – Original Studio Cast Recording (SimG Records – SimGR-CD025)

I love it! I love it! I love it! This is a brand new musical from the pens of Stiles and Drewe and everything, from the cast to the design on the CD booklet and cover, is perfect.

Taking the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears and making it accessible to both adult and child is not an easy task but, in the very capable hands of Stiles and Drewe, it has happened. The show has already been very successfully produced in Singapore by the Singapore Repertory Theatre, but this is the first recording, and thank goodness it has been issued by the exemplary SimG Records. The orchestrations by Ruth Ling add so much to the atmosphere of the piece and so they mustn’t go unsung!

The cast includes David Bedella, James Gillan, Leanne Jones, Amy Lennox and Michael Xavier and they are all obviously having the time of their lives making this recording – and no wonder. If they had half as much fun recording the show as I had listening to it, then ‘job done’.

This album is a MUST for all musical theatre fans and, hopefully, we will be seeing a production of it in the not too distant future.


image2Ben Stock – And There Was Music (SimG Records – SimGR-CD026)

SimG Records has done it again. Another absolutely delightful album. There is no big orchestra or even a digitalised band – it is simply Ben Stock and his piano.

This is Stock’s debut album but he has been on the musical theatre scene for quite a while. His credits include: Beauty and the Beast, Grease, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hello, Dolly! and The Glenn Miller Story – to name but a few.

This album is simply delicious, if an album can be delicious! The range of genres in the choice of material works extremely well. His ‘Mrs Worthington’ has taken on a fresh coat of gloss paint and other versions of old standards seem to take on a new life as well. ‘Tattooed Lady’, ‘The Rose’ and ‘Love Don’t Need a Reason’ are just a sample of the type of songs you will get in this really superb album.

As I said, this is his debut album, but I would put money on the fact that it won’t be his last!


otm259ON THE 20th CENTURY – New Broadway Cast Recording (PS Classics – PS-1532)

Goodness me! I really didn’t want to put this CD into the player. I had flashbacks to the original London cast and how much I wanted to leave the theatre but couldn’t. So I shoved the CD into the player expecting the worst. I got one HUGE shock. This album featuring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher is sheer delight. I really was lost for words. Perhaps it has something to do with the dialogue being included. Whatever it is – it works wonders.

Since there is the book as well as the songs, it is possible to make more sense of the piece, even if you haven’t seen a production on stage. Gallagher is simply amazing in the role of Oscar Jaffee. His turnabout from quite sane to hysterical is so well-timed and witty and he is set opposite the outstanding Chenoweth, playing Mildred Plotka/Lily Garland. Every single nuance is timed to perfection.

They are ably accompanied by a strong ensemble cast and it’s lovely to hear Mary Louise Wilson, now 84 years of age, giving her Letitia Peabody Primrose, who goes around with ‘Repent for the Time is at Hand’ stickers, putting them everywhere and anywhere.

If you only buy one album a year make it this one – you will not be disappointed.


STAGE9040JEANNE – The Musical – Original Studio Cast (STAGE DOOR RECORDS – STAGE 9040)

Well, this brought lots of memories flooding back into my mind. I remember going to see the show at Sadler’s Wells in 1986. I have to say that I didn’t come away from the theatre enthralled, in fact I’d go as far to say I really didn’t like it. But, and it’s a big but, listening to this album has changed my mind. Was it just a musical before its time? I think that may very well have been the case.

This album features a studio cast including: Paul Field, Annie McCaig, Mo Turner, Shirlie Roden (who wrote the musical), Adrian Snell, Ashley Keech, Michael Dore, Carl Wayne, Jonathan Rathbone, Richard Barnes, Pam Travis, Debi Doss, Peter Straker, Rod Edwards and James Litherland.

The original London cast was never recorded – or, if it was, it was never released. The London cast included: Rebecca Storm, Malcolm Roberts, Brett Forrest, Paul Burton and Peter Straker. It started life at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1985 and the only difference in the cast was Jeanne herself – the role was then played by Siobhan McCarthy.

As far as I can make out (I have a very bad memory!) all the songs from the show are on this album and it has made me change my mind about the musical itself. Perhaps because I can see a staging in my mind’s eye.

As always Stage Door Records is continuing to release albums of shows that are somehow forgotten in this day and age. Bless you Stage Records – long may you continue.


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