The best Broadway musical theatre shows of 2014 – Part One

The best Broadway musical theatre shows of 2014 - Part One_550
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Broadway show recordings are a great way to relive the memories of a terrific night out.
They are also great learning tools – it pays to know different composers, different styles, new shows, and what it hot right now. Anyone who is wanting to work as a musical theatre performer should know what’s on right now, what’s just closed and what is about to open.
Broadway and West End seem quite precarious at the moment and great shows are closing without really having had a chance. So very often the original broadway cast recording is sometimes all you will have left!
If you are after a gift for a musical theatre fan then these Cast Recordings from 2014 would be great. They represent a wide spectrum of what musical theatre has to offer: transexual rock, jazz standards, fighting dragons, and epic bus journeys – you get it all on the Broadway stage!
Here is what you might have missed in the first half of 2014.
The Best Broadway Cast Recordings – 2014 – Part One
If you have a favourite that you would like to see on this list please let us know via Twitter @actorhub.

Or use our contact form to get in touch and send us your favourite recent cast recording to add to this list.

Click on title to view a video from the show

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  • “Before our eyes, Harris is opening another chapter in his exceptional show business career with this 90-minute show and he simply crushes it, holding nothing back, softening no edges, making no nice…Harris sings with real feeling, whether it’s a torch song on a stool while dressed in a little cocktail dress or rocking out a head-banging tune by attacking the scenery” Mark Kennedy
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The music of the show is steeped in the androgynous 1970s glam rock era of David Bowie and early punk godfathers Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.
    Neil Patrick Harris returned to Braodway in 2014 in a limited run playing “Internationally ignored song stylist” Hedwig Robinson setting the record straight about her life, her loves, and the botched operation that left her with that “angry inch.”
  • “How good can a jukebox musical be? As good as “Bullets Over Broadway,” Woody Allen’s new stage version of his 1994 film, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman. The book is funny, the staging inventive, the cast outstanding, the sets and costumes satisfyingly slick. All that’s missing is a purpose-written score, in place of which we get period-true arrangements of pop songs of the 1920s and ’30s.” Terry Teachout
    Bullets Over Broadway the Musical is written by Woody Allen, based on his and Douglas McGrath’s film of the same name.
    The score consists of jazz and popular standards of the years between World War I and about 1930 by various songwriters.
    Bullets Over Broadway tells the story of an aspiring young playwright newly arrived on Broadway in 1920’s New York who is forced to cast a mobster’s talentless girlfriend in his latest drama in order to get it produced.
  • “Everything about “Violet” is extraordinary, from its captivating, character-driven storytelling and pulsating country-rock score to the focused direction from Leigh Silverman and pitch-perfect casting. Sutton Foster, a two-time Tony winner, gives her most expressive, deeply felt and vibrant performance to date, fully capturing the character’s yearning and volatility. It ought to be required viewing for all aspiring stage actors.” Matt Windman
    With a score of show-stopping anthems ranging from American-roots to folk to gospel, Violet tells the story of a young woman’s quest for beauty amidst the image-obsessed landscape of the 1960s.
    Facially disfigured in a childhood accident, Violet dreams of a miraculous transformation through the power of faith. Convinced that a televangelist in Oklahoma can heal her, she hops a Greyhound bus and starts the journey of a lifetime.
    Along the way, Violet forms unlikely friendships with her fellow riders, who teach her about beauty, love, courage and what it means to be an outsider
  • “Rocky is a smash hit that shows no sign of slowing down…The rich and serviceable score is by the Tony winning songwriters Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime). [Andy Karl is] the biggest thing since Hugh Jackman, and as Rocky Balboa…he is very much the center of Rocky. He sings with power and persuasion” Rex Reed
    Rocky brings to life the iconic and inspiring story of struggling small time Philly boxer, Rocky Balboa, who gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to go the distance against heavyweight champ Apollo Creed.
    Both an adrenaline-infused spectacle and a surprising story of blossoming romance between two lonely outsiders, Rocky is a heart-stopping and viscerally theatrical new musical for everyone brave enough to follow their dream.
    The show features 20 original songs, with additional music taken from the original film series including “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now”.
  • “”It’s sad without being maudlin, a history lesson without being preachy. It’s earthy and seemingly honest. Since her death, Billie Holiday, who was raped and mistreated and jailed, has become a siren for singers, her tortured life and vocals too rich too pass up. McDonald does honor to her troubled spirit” Mark Kennedy
    Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill recounts the life story of Billie Holiday through the songs that made her famous.
    It’s 1959, in a small, intimate bar in Philadelphia, Billie Holiday puts on a show that will leave her audience witness to one of the last performances of her life. Through her poignant voice and moving songs, one of the greatest jazz singers of all-time shares her loves and her losses.
    Tony award winner Audra MacDonald played a limited run of this beautiful piece of theatre at the Circle in the Square.
  • “With the indefatigable, deeply engaged and seemingly irreplaceable Norbert Leo Butz driving its storytelling and willing the show’s crucial emotional subtext into being by sheer force of talent and will, “Big Fish” arrives on Broadway as an earnest, family-friendly, heart-warming and mostly successful new American musical. Modestly and movingly scored by Andrew Lippa, “Big Fish” is set in the Deep South and honors that region’s love of tall tales without exploiting the Southern stereotypes so common to the genre of musical theater.” Chris Jones
    Big Fish is a musical with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by John August.
    It is based on Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel, Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, and the 2003 film written by August and directed by Tim Burton.
    Big Fish revolves around the relationship between Edward Bloom, a travelling salesman, and his adult son Will, who looks for what is behind his father’s tall stories.
    The story shifts between two timelines. In the present-day real world, sixty-year-old Edward Bloom faces his mortality while Will prepares to become a father himself. In the storybook past, Edward ages from a teenager, encountering a Witch, a Giant, a Mermaid, and the love of his life, Sandra. The stories meet as Will discovers the secret his father never revealed
  • “Half British music hall and half Grand Guignol – garnished with flavors ofOscar Wilde and Gilbert and Sullivan – Gentleman’s Guideis a pocket-sized musical that dazzles with lyrical wit, dark comedic fun and bravura showmanship. Intelligent and merry, all the elements work splendidly from start to finish” Michael Dale
    A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is a musical comedy based on the 1907 novel Israel Rank: the Autobiography of a Criminal The novel was also the source for the 1949 British film Kind Hearts and Coronets; however, apparently for legal reasons, that title was not permitted to be used.
    In 1909 London, commoner Monty Navarro finds out he is a member of the aristocratic D’Ysquith family, and ninth in line to inherit an earldom. He decides to eliminate the other eight heirs who stand in his way.
    The video link above is a fun video of the cast singing Pharrell’s Happy! …. just because!
  • “Following in the footsteps of crowd-pleasers like Jersey Boys this is entertaining boomer bait that elevates its by-the-numbers narrative with great songs. It’s also a tremendous showcase for the talented Jessie Mueller as she embodies King’s blossoming from songwriter-for-hire to empowered performer of her own material” The Hollywood Reporter
    The new jukebox musical, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter.
    Carole King worked in the record business as a shy Jewish Brooklyn teenager, writing songs in the Brill Building. Her songs with lyricist husband Gerry Goffin found success, but she was a woman and mother working in a man’s world. This show tells her story.
  • “While there is no plot, many of the production numbers have characters and clever concepts and lead-ins. Dulé Hill also delivers some poetic lines by Langston Hughes about Harlem’s atmosphere during the period. As staged by Warren Carlyle, “After Midnight” brings lively and snazzy period entertainment to Broadway with phenomenal sound, effervescent movement and a joyous spirit.” Matt Windman
    After Midnight is a Broadway musical revue based on an earlier 2011 revue, titled Cotton Club Parade.
    The evocative After Midnight takes the sexy, smoky glamour of the original Jazz Age and catapults it into a whole new era of heart-pounding, mind-blowing entertainment for a modern audience.
    The show takes place “after midnight” in New York’s Harlem. It features jazz pieces by Duke Ellington, Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields and Harold Arlen, framed by the poetry of Langston Hughes. The show features an orchestra of 17 musicians, 25 vocalists, dancers and performers. It is headlined by a rotating list of performers.