Nine, The New Broadway Cast Recording, PS Classics PS-312
The Maury Yeston Songbook, PS Classics PS-310
Lauren Kennedy: Songs of Jason Robert Brown, PC3 Classics PS-309
First Lady Suite, A Musical by Michael John La Chiusa, PS Classics, PS-206
Amour, Broadway Premiere Recording, Sh-K-Boom Records 4003-2
Seeing the current Broadway revival of Nine (twice, so far) reminded me of how interesting and musically original I found the score when I first heard it in 1982. While "Nine" won the Tony Award that year for best Outstanding New Musical, its chief competitor, Dreamgirls, was thought to be more of a classic. The new Roundabout Theatre revival makes a strong argument for Nine, a wholly original show whose time may have come at last.
The 1982 cast featured chanteuse Karen Akers, the well-known Raul Julia, the voluptuous Anita Morris and a seductive Lillian Montevechi. The new ensemble features Antonio Banderas, Laura Benanti, Jane Krakowski, Chita Rivera, and Mary Stuart Masterson. Both recordings have their merits, although the recorded sound on the new PS Classic CD has greater presence than my old vinyl disk. Furthermore, the CD format allows for more material (79 minutes) than the original recording (even on the recently remastered CD). Its two main shortcomings are a smaller orchestra (about 15 musicians versus 35 on the original) which reduces colors offered in the orchestrations, and the absence of "The Germans at the Spa," a number which was cut from the revival. Neither Raul Julia nor Antonio Banderas are great singers (although Banderas is captivating on stage), so the basis for a preference has to lie elsewhere. As the film-makers wife, Mary Stuart Masterson is more convincing than Karen Akers, which came as a surprise to me. She is more forceful both on stage and on the recording in "Be on Your Own"--essentially where she tells her self-centered husband to get lost. It brings gender parity to a show that previously appealed disproportionately to male egos. And Jane Krakowsi's sexy "A Call from the Vatican" (a number that has to be seen to be believed) is better sung than Anita Morris's version, even though Jane will never look like Morris.
Perhaps anticipating the success of Nine, PS Classics released a collection of songs earlier this year by Maury Yeston, the composer of Nine. Many great theatre voices--including Betty Buckley, Christine Ebersole and Brent Barrett--contributed new recordings of selections from Yeston's other...