1. Actor's Fund Benefit Recording of Hair Two words: Seth Rudetsky. The legend, the god, the music director for this recording. For years I have been absolutely obsessed with his show on XM. Rudetsky knows talent, and he knows whose voice works for each song. While most of my top 5 lists will not be in any particular order, Hair is definitely #1 on this one. I have never heard more incredible vocals in my life. Each actor has one song, one recording to blow the listeners' minds, and they do.
Lillias White, of Dreamgirls and Fela! fame, belts all of "Aquarius." Other highlights include Shoshana Bean's "Sheila Franklin/I Believe in Love" and the most incredible rendition of "White Boys" I have ever heard. I would also be remiss not to mention Norm Lewis' "Let the Sunshine In." Basically this recording is the holy grail of Broadway talent.
2. The Book of Mormon I can think of few recordings that are more fun than this one. If you see me driving around and laughing hysterically, it's probably because I have this CD in - awkward when I stop at lights in my slug bug convertible and the folks of Springfield, IL hear what I'm listening to. One of the reasons why I love The Book of Mormon so much is that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are willing to make fun of anything. Nothing is sacred in this show. Some of my favorites include "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" and "Salt Lake City."
3. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson While not as well known as some of the other recordings I've listed, this is one of my favorites. The idea of making Andrew Jackson an emo rock star is just hilarious to me. The show is a wonderful parody of teen angst that ends up being extremely powerful despite its ridiculousness.
My favorites: "Ten Little Indians," a disturbing song about Jackson's interactions with Native Americans. "The Great Compromise," in which Jackson's wife Rachel complains about their public, stressful life. One of the best lines is, "I always thought I'd live in a house with a dog and two kids and some slaves." In "Public Life," Jackson sings about his life after Rachel dies. This is a really wonderful, tender moment in the show. I always tear up when Jackson sings, "Oh I'll keep on going oh I'll keep on going. I gotta be that guy." I love shows like this that blend comedy with the perfect amount of drama.
4. 10th Anniversary of Les Miserables Talk about a stacked show. This cast hits the music out of the ballpark. Judy Kuhn, who plays Cosette, has a gorgeous, crystal clear soprano voice that some may remember from her performance as Pocahontas.
Another incredible cast member is Lea Salonga, another Disney princess (Mulan). She is better known for originating the role of Kim in Miss Saigon, but her Eponine is incredible.
5. Next to Normal As I've mentioned before, this show is one of my greatest loves. Alice Ripley sings with such emotion that just listening to the recording can make me cry. Although my friends would say that's not that big of a deal because I cry all the time. Blame it on the sensitive artistic spirit.
But honestly I will never be able to fully express my love for Next to Normal in words. One of my favorite songs is Natalie's "Everything Else." First of all, Jennifer Damiano is incredible. Her voice is perfect for Natalie, and "Everything Else" was my anthem for senior year. I really identify with Natalie because I too am totally type A and a little neurotic at times. Also like Natalie, I use music as my escape from problems in my life. Another favorite is "Perfect for You," which Natalie sings with her love interest. Actually all of their duets are wonderful. In "Perfect for You," I especially love Natalie's "You've got some nerve Henry, and I'm just all nerve."
But the song that moves me the most is the closing number, "Light." The lyrics that strike me every time I hear the song: "Day after day, we find a will to find our way." "And you find out that you don't have to be happy at all to be happier alive."