Finian's Rainbow (PS Classics)
Although three cast recordings already exist of this 1947 confection from Burton Lane, Yip Harburg and Fred Saidy -- and there are numerous other studio recordings as well as the soundtrack for the film -- musical theater aficionados will welcome the new Broadway cast recording for its completeness.The disc features not only the oh-so-familiar tunes such as "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "Look to the Rainbow," but also the reprises of them, the gorgeous music for the second act "Dance of the Golden Crock," and even the brief "Entr'Acte."
But this new Finian's isn't just a sort of archival curiosity, it's also a vibrant recording of the masterful score. The central performances from Kate Baldwin as Sharon, Cheyenne Jackson as Woody, and Christopher Fitzgerald as Og are all gems. Baldwin sounds terrific whether delivering Lane's lilting melodies with her graceful voice that's tinged with an Irish brogue for the show or simply speaking some of the ample dialogue that's included alongside the songs. Jackson, who is simply dreamy throughout, delivers what might be the definitive "Old Devil Moon" with Baldwin, and Fitzgerald's impish performance shines remarkably well on the CD and will certainly bring smiles to listeners' faces.
The disc also preserves a host of other grand turns, including Terri White's galvanizing rendition of the gospel-infused "Necessity" and Chuck Cooper, Bernard Dotson, James Stovall and Devin Richards' playfully soulful delivery of "The Begat." The recording uses Robert Russell Bennett and Don Walker's original orchestrations, along with some sprightly new ones from Larry Moore, and the result is a recording that sounds simultaneously of the period and yet slightly more vibrant and contemporary.
The disc is accompanied by a handsome full-color booklet that includes not only photographs of the show, but also lyrics, a synopsis, and a terrific essay on the musical from arts journalist John Lahr.