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Kiss Me Kate - the New Broadway Cast Recording Colonna sonora, Import
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1.Another op'nin', another show
2.Why can't you behave?
4.So in love
5.We open in Venice
6.Tom, Dick or Harry
7.I've come to wive it wealthy in Padua
8.I hate men
9.Where thine that special face
10.Cantiamo d' amore
11.Kiss me, Kate
12.Too darn hot
13.Where is the life that late it led?
14.Always true to you (in my fashion)
16.So in love (Reprise)
17.Brush up your Shakespeare
19.I am ashamed that women are so simple
20.Kiss me, Kate (finale)
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Not having seen it, I cannot vouch for how well this cast acquits itself on stage; but I cannot give the highest marks for what I hear on this CD. Brian Stokes Mitchell has a voice close to Drake's but more lightweight and more comical. For me, he ruins "Were Thine That Special Face" by treating it less musically than did Drake and fairly shouting the "You'll be mine all mine" at the end. Marin Mazzie is also less musical and more screechy than Morison ever was in "I Hate Men" though she is fine in "Wunderbar" and "So in Love." Finally, Amy Spangler has a somewhat colorless voice and lacks the spark Kirk gave the role back then.
Note: This is not to say that the original way is the only way in which these roles can be sung! I am saying that in this particular case, the original singers are far more effective to me than are the recent ones.
Yet this DRG offering has the advantage of far better sound than that of the original Columbia LP and a good deal more music: the Act I finale, "Cantiamo d'amore," Pavane, and a lot of dance music, all of which are not in the original recording. (Of course the 2-CD EMI set has every note and even appends some songs dropped before opening night.) Also the numbers involving the chorus are far livelier than on either of the rival sets, with the "ad libs" and chorus noises as they sound in the stage production.
So as momento of the revival, this is a very good purchase indeed. And while it will not replace the original cast set, it certainly complements it nicely.
Not that "the classics" should be never be fiddled with. It happens all the time with Shakespeare and Verdi and Puccini - sometimes with pleasing results. Sometimes not. The 2005 rethinking of SWEENEY TODD works admirably well (although I still prefer the original, more operatic version) and I understand so does the new revival of COMPANY. Both can be understood as reinventions that clarify and enhance character and motive. But this KATE doesn't work, because it's just Mona Lisa in a push-up bra.
The fault doesn't lie so much with the singers as it does with the concept. Perhaps KATE played differently on stage, but recording producer Hugh Fordin is quoted in the liner notes as saying, "I want a cast album to sound as if the performers are doing the show for you in your living room." How preposterous! Has he seen the size of my living room? Musical director Paul Gemignani says, "I pick up the pace, so the music is faster on the recording. I do that because the listener doesn't have visuals, and because it energizes the performers." Really, but at what cost. Brian Stokes Mitchell is forced to sing "Where Is the Life That Late I Led" at such a pace that it loses all nuance. Compare it to Alfred Drake on the original or to Thomas Hampson's on the EMI recording and you'll understand. Marin Mazzie has the most pleasing voice of all the Lili Vanessi/Kate's on record. Her "I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple" is lovely, but someone unwisely encouraged her to do some extremely ugly vocalizing during "I Hate Men." I see visions of nodes growing on her vocal chords as she growls through this number. Mazzie could take a lesson from Patricia Morrison on how to sing angrily without abusing the voice. Michael Berresse is a fine Bill/Lucentio, but Amy Spanger is too much of an air-head, dumb blonde (see Adelaide in GUYS AND DOLLS) for me. I prefer the 1948 (also 1959) original Lois Lane (Lisa Kirk), a fully mature and confident woman who definitely knows her way around men.
But most irritating of all, this KISS ME KATE, like many other recent revivals, does NOT SOUND LIKE BROADWAY! Robert Russell Bennett's marvelous orchestrations have been discarded and replaced by Don Sebesky's wimpy Las Vegas-style arrangements. Even though "So in Love" is beautifully sung by both stars, it sounds more lke "Sinatra at the Sands" than Broadway. And what's with the "Steam Heat"/"Cool" intro to "Too Darn Hot." This is Cole Porter, not Leonard Bernstein or Adler & Ross.
All carping aside, there is much to recommend this recording. But for authentic Broadway, you're better off with the original 1948 Broadway cast recording, even with its dated sound. The 1959 Angel "Reassembled Original Cast" benefits from better sound, but the performances aren't as fresh as they were 11 years earlier. John McGlinn's 1990 EMI "complete" recording offers excellent sound, an outstanding orchestra & chorus, every note & every lyric written for the show, a rather stiff-sounding Thomas Hampson, a Lois Lane/Bianca (Kim Criswell) almost as good as Lisa Kirk, and the strangest-sounding Kate you'll ever hear (Dame Josephine Barstow). An essential recording, it is now out of print.
The choice? Simple, you must have one of each.
Performers aside, this is a play that has the audience in its grips from the opening scene, and much of it is due to the witty dialogue and Cole Porter's tongue twisting and outrageous lyrics. This is definitely not the type of CD that you'll buy and listen to one time because you have tickets to or saw the musical, I guarentee you, it'll be in the player for a long time to come and keep coming back.
Viva Classic Broadway ! ! !
Well my thoughts on this musical totally changed since I bought the revival CD. Marin Mazzie is amazing--her I Hate Men is the most entertaining, Amy Spanger has such an amazing voice for Broadway, I'm surprised I've never heard of her before this! And Brian Stokes Mitchell...he definitely deserved the Tony! You can tell at the end of some songs, the notes aren't the easiest for him to hit, but he hits them with power. You can tell he took this role to another level in every song he performs!
Each actor has such a presence, they put so much into every time you hear them...it's just simply amazing :-) So needless to say, if you are to buy any musical cd this year, it should be this Kiss Me, Kate! And if you are wise enough to chose Kiss Me, Kate, it should be the New Broadway Cast Recording! :-)
Having said that.....I find Brian Stokes Mitchell to be an incredible actor both in a dramatic sense and in a comic sense. As for his singing, he tends to shout when he goes into his upper range...say above E flat to F. I often wonder if he considers himself a Baritone or a Bass-Baritone. At the performance I saw, by the end of the show, his throat was closing and he was "reaching" for notes.
Marin Mazzie was, for me, the ideal singing actress. Her comic timing was WONDERFUL. I sat in the 4th row and experienced her incredible facial expressions. Many times, she didn't need to utter a word but her facial expressions and body language spoke NOVELS! Her singing tended to overshadow BSM simply because she clearly had more control and placement....(classically trained). To be so physically involved in "I Hate Men" and still be able to produce a wonderful tone throughout the rest of the performance truly shows an incredible talent.
Michael Berresse is a gymnast. NOT a singer. enuf said. You'll understand this once you've seen the show.
I must say that, not since Show Boat (Yes...the Livent Production) have a seen such a wonderful ensemble cast. It shows in their performance and I believe it shines on the CD.
This is a great revival. Here's to a long run on Broadway!