Doug Besterman's new orchestrations -- which build cleverly and wittily on Robert Ginzler's originals -- sparkle and add a "mod" touch to the show, whisking listeners back to the 1960s with smile-inducing flair. Producer Robert Sher has also filled this bountiful disc with transition, dance and exit music and even a bonus track (an extended version of "Pirate Dance"), which makes the recording one of the most complete preservations of this grand score to date.
But it's not only the orchestra that's sounding terrific; the songs are being served up in first-rate renditions by the company, led by Daniel Radcliffe, whose turn as J. Pierrepont Finch is as endearing here as it is in the theater. Radcliffe's vocals have a breathless enthusiasm to them, which is perfect for the ladder-climbing young executive at the center of the show, and there's a precision to his phrasing that makes the lyrics simply pop.
Equally beguiling is Rose Hemingway's turn as Rosemary, the secretary who falls for Finch; her vocals have a sunniness and sparkle to them that is instantly infectious. Tony Award winner John Laroquette acquits himself ably as company bigwig J.B. Biggley, and in their supporting roles, Christopher J. Hanke, Rob Bartlett, Tammy Blanchard, and Ellen Harvey all have their moments to shine. (So does newscaster Anderson Cooper, who never pushes his sarcasm as he voices the narrator of the "how to" book that's guiding Finch.)
Unfortunately, the booklet that accompanies the disc (replete with photos, synopsis, and some great liner notes by producer Craig Zadan and Neil Meron) doesn't contain lyrics. The inclusion of Loesser's amusing, beautifully crafted, and often just sweetly charming words might have well pushed this recording from the "must-have" to nearly definitive.
For tickets and more information on the Broadway production, click here.