The Best Broadway Cast Recordings of 2013

The Best Broadway Cast Recordings of 2013_550
Photo Credit: Pete Bellis via cc
Seeing a great Broadway or West End show is a moment in time which can never be repeated. Sometimes the Cast Recording can be a terrific reflection of that evening, sometimes they can even help you understand the show a little bit better.
The audio might be better than in the theatre and lyrics you missed are found, and the orchestration is edited together in such a way as to give you a richer experience.
If you have never seen the show then the cast recording is a wonderful way to introduce you to something new and you can experience it in your own unique way.
If you are after a present for a musical theatre fan then these Cast Recordings from 2013 would be great, they represent a wide spectrum of what musical theatre has to offer: from rock to folk, from old fashioned showtunes to poptastic drag queens – you get it all on the Broadway stage.
Here is what you might have missed in 2013.
The Best Broadway Cast Recordings – 2013
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  • “Merrily We Roll Along” rolls triumphantly back to town as the opening attraction of the 2012 season at City Center Encores … this seems the best of all possible “Merrilys.” Sondheim fans will heartily approve.” Variety
    Merrily We Roll Along is Sondheim’s 11th musical and was a complete failure when it first opened, it has since been restaged numerous times but this version which played for a very limited run of just 15 performances back in 2012 is perhaps the best version I have ever heard.
    Sondheim’s long time collaborator James Lapine has adapted the show, written some new lines and reassigned some songs. The show has been reorchestrated and is played by a 23-piece orchestra sounding the best this music has ever sounded.
    The cast is led by Colin Donnell as Franklin, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Charley Kringas, and Celia Keenan-Bolger as Mary.
    This recording is a two disc set and is almost the entire musical complete with new songs never before heard, so is well worth adding to your collection.
  • “Based on the genial 2005 film of the same name, “Kinky Boots” is feel-good theater, a cut above similar recent shows like “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Sister Act.” Lauper’s songs are smart and funny … Billy Porter kills in ‘Sex is in the Heel’ a number that pretty much sums up the show.” Bloomberg
    Cyndi Lauper has always been a favourite of mine, whilst having a goofy and kitsch demeanor her songs, like True Colors, always seem sincere and come straight from the heart. Her first musical ‘Kinky Boots’ does not disappoint and is full of eccentricity and sentimentality which makes this a terrific cast recording – Billy Porter singing ‘I’m Not My Father’s Son’ is worth the asking price alone!
    Kinky Boots earned 13 Tony Nominations and won 6 Awards including Best Musical and Best Score, with Cyndi Lauper being the first woman to ever win that category.
    All the performances on this cast recording are excellent and the songs range from musical theatre character-driven numbers to more pop sounding ensemble pieces, making this a great mix of toe-tapping hummable tunes which make you smile to touching numbers which make you think.
    Who would have thought the story of a British shoe factory who teamed up with a drag queen to make ‘kinky boots’ to save the business would make such an unforgettable piece of musical theatre. Just like the original story that the show is based on, this is a gamble which has paid off!
  • “The Mystery of Edwin Drood, inspired by an unfinished Charles Dickens novel, is one of the most inventive, inspired and rousing musicals ever devised. And it is a pleasure to report that the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival is thoroughly well-cast and extremely enjoyable … this production is a reminder that well-known musicals do not need to be reconstructed or darkened for their revivals. If the show is strong, have faith in it and all will fall into place.” AM New York
    The Mystery of Edwin Drood was left unfinished upon Dickens’ death and so this show has multiple endings and the audience decide upon which ending they want to see. It is the ultimate musical whodunnit.
    This is the first complete recording of this show with numbers that were missing from the original 1980s LP. The cast is stunning with stand out performances from Will Chase and Stephanie J. Block and a showstopper from Broadway legend Chita Rivera.
    With nods to pantomime and music hall this musical show is pure unadulterated FUN, and the cast recording seems to perfectly capture that sense of bawdy, rowdy, irresistible joy of the live performance. This is a terrific recording of a show which just begs to be revived this side of the pond too.
  • “Reorchestrated and sound-designed for young, modern ears, this Godspell sounds like a born-again Glee, and several performers have moments to shine including Uzo Aduba, Telly Leung and the wonderful Lindsay Mendez” Time Out
    This production marks the 40th anniversary of Godspell by Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz, and this production was tailored towards finding a new audience of today and so this recording sounds fresh, exciting and bang up to date. It si rare for a CD recording to capture the energy, spirit and vitality of a live performance but this one does and will not disappoint.
    All of the songs you know so well from your other cast recordings of this show sound so fresh and relevant whilst losing none of the original charm which made us love them. The new orchestrations are wonderful and the vocal arrangements are harmonically full.
    This ensemble cast is amazing and won’t disappoint – stand outs for me are Lindsay Mendez on “Bless the Lord”, Uzo Aduba on “By My Side” and Telly Leung on “All Good Gifts”.
    Fall in love with this show all over again with this incredible cast recording.
  • ” First Date, a romantic musical comedy about the horrors, humiliations and occasional happy surprises of blind dates, is cute (but not too cute) and sweet (but not too sweet). Creative team of Austin Winsberg (book) and collaborators Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (music and lyrics) should thank their lucky stars for Krysta Rodriguez and Zachary Levi, who are seriously charming as mismatched blind daters destined to become lovers.” Variety
    First Date is a small scale, small cast musical which tells the story of a blind date from start to finish – Aaron is set up with Casey and their date unfolds in real time. Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own as the other restaurant patrons turn into their supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents who sing and dance their way through this awkward first meeting of a mismatched couple.
    Zachary Levi brings an off kilter humour and charm to Aaron, whilst rising Broadway star Krysta Rodriguez brings her quirky spunkiness and voice to die for to the role of Casey, she reminds me of a young Idina Menzel on the brink of stardom – her song ‘Safer’ will give you goosebumps.
    The songs are catchy and the vocals incredible. A great new show which is original, unique, funny, moving and might just become your next favourite show.
  • “LaChiusa rolls out hummable song after hummable song. The score is richly and satisfyingly complex, with each major character getting a musical motif or style. In the end, though, it is the story and its epic but human sweep that will draw you in.” Entertainment Weekly
    Giant is most famous as the 1956 movie which featured the late James Dean, the 1952 novel which it is based on spans 30 years and the musical stays closer to the book with a large cast of characters and themes involving the changing times and racial tensions, and the timeless issue of the relationship between parents and their children.
    The story follows a Texan family pulled apart by the battle between cattle and oil barons, focussing on a forbidden love between an American boy and a Mexican girl. The music certainly follows traditional musical theatre, with songs reminiscent of Sondheim, Bernstein and Rodgers and Hammerstein whilst always evoking the Texan wilderness at times shifting between mariachi, Mexican folk and country.
    Giant is a three act, three hour, epic ‘giant’ of a musical! It is exactly what makes musical theatre great in my mind, it is all at once challenging, heartwarming, melodic and intelligent
  • “I love you, I hate you, I’ll kill you. That’s the lurid premise of “Murder Ballad,” the hot and sticky rock opera, this hot-blooded property written by Julia Jordan and set to music by Juliana Nash still steams up the room with its violent tabloid tale of illicit love, lust and betrayal.” Variety
    Murder Ballad was conceived and written by Julia Jordan and scored by rock singer Juliana Nash. It is the story of a twisted love triangle and will captivate you through it’s perfectly executed songs.
    Murder Ballad is an electrifying story which will capture your heart with its thrilling plot full of twists and turns. The show is sung through so you get everything on this recording and you can follow the story with ease and get lost in this interweaving story of Sara, an upper west-sider with a dark past. The show only has a cast of four and they are all outstanding: Rebecca Naomi Jones, Will Swenson, Caissie Levy and John Ellison Conlee.
    The musical is slightly similar to Rent as it has a modern and completely contemporary sound which I am sure will bring a whole new generation to musical theatre.
    I have a feeling this show will be one of those ‘underground’ hits which it pays to get into early! Be there at the beginning with this fantastic cast recording full of incredible voices singing intelligent, memorable lyrics to hauntingly beautiful music.
  • “Boy meets girl, boy loses girl — you know the drill. But this Tony-winning production, based on a cult movie (yes, on rare occasion such transformations work), turned song and dance into a beguilingly off-center, introspective elegy for a love that got away.” The New York Times
    Once was a suprise hit at the cinema, a perfect and beautiful low budget movie romance about an Irish busker and a Czech flower seller. The film has a Brief Encounter bittersweetness to it and can turn even the most cynical veiwer into a helpless romantic.
    On first glance you wouldn’t think it would make a stage musical but it has made one of the most wonderful simple and beautiful musicals of recent years. The two hander story of the film has been opened up to include more characters and stories.
    This really is an ensemble piece. A cast of twelve incredible actor-musicians work together in perfect harmony and bring the music to life. The musical begins as a raucous session in a pub with the actors sat on the edge of the stage – a busking orchestra. This is a play with songs, not your typical musical.
    This broadway cast recording was named best musical theatre album in the 2013 Grammy Awards. The leads are Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti.
  • “The brilliant new production of “Pippin,” a 1972 coming-of-age tale, boasts everything you could dream of in a musical – including Stephen Schwartz’s terrifically tuneful songs – and a few things you couldn’t even imagine.” NY Daily News
    Pippin was a huge hit when it first opened in the 1970s and this cast recording of the 2013 production betters the original. Stephen Schwartz himself has produced the original cast recording and the production qualities and orchestrations are second to none.
    The ensemble numbers soar, especially in the Act One closing song “Morning Glow” and the solo songs touch your heart. Patina Miller as Lead Player is sexy, tantalising and mysetrious with Matthew James Thomas bringing a tremendous variety and range to the role of Pippin, his “Corner Of The Sky” is one of the best I’ve heard.
    If you haven’t seen any of the staging of this production then search it out on YouTube, the circus acts and Fosse-esque choreography are simply wonderful and will enhance your audio enjoyment.
    On this cast recording you also get four orchestral tracks for you to sing along to kareoke style – these might infact be excellent backing tracks for your musical theatre audition songs or showcase numbers.
  • ” In the new musical Chaplin, which is every bit as entertaining as Charlie Chaplin himself, Rob McClure portrays the film genius with an irresistible sweetness, like candy you can’t – and don’t want to – stop eating” The Philadelphia Inquirer
    Chaplin: The Musical didn’t last on Broadway, it opened in September 2012 and had closed by January 2013. The show is captured on this CD recording and is an engaging and refreshing recording of this bio-musical which I hope isn’t gone forever.
    Chaplin is the story of Charlie’s life before, during and after the collapse of his Little Tramp character. The star of the show is Rob McClure as Charlie Chaplin and his show stopping number “What Only Love Can See” is an instant classic, and probably in the audition repertoire of many a young performer.
    This feels like an great old-fashioned musical, it is moving, funny and poignant. The songs are beautiful and the tunes faithful to the era of the story whilst still feeling fresh for today’s audience.
    This is a wonderful album; clearly and enthusiastically recorded for the public. If you saw the musical, this will bring back so many memories. If you didn’t see the musical, the music you will be introduced to is well worth the Amazon price! You won’t regret it.