The stars of Glee have rarely sounded more vibrant than they do on this soundtrack for the movie version of this year's national concert tour. Particular highlights include Lea Michele and Cory Monteith's duet for "Loser Like Me," Michele's soaring take on "Don't Rain on My Parade," Kevin McHale's excellent rendition of "Safety Dance," and the beguiling medley of "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "Get Happy," shared by Monteith and Chris Colfer. The disc even preserves a special visit Gwyneth Paltrow made to the concert with "Forget You."
Tom Wopat -- Consider It Swung (LML Music)
Wopat's earthy and husky vocals are a perfect match for the eclectic array of songs on this jazzy and bluesy disc. The singer turns to the world of musical theater with a surprisingly buoyant take on the Gershwins' "But Not for Me" (from Oh, Kay!) and a soulful rendition of Harry Warren and Al Dubin's title song from 42nd Street while the realm of pop music is represented with tunes like Joni Mitchell's "2 Grey Rooms." Wopat's own work as a songwriter is also heard on the CD on the folksy and intriguingly Eastern-infused "Thailand Seas."
Ghost the Musical (Original Cast Recording) (Ais Records)
After a few disappointing opening tracks on this cast recording of the new West End musical based on the hit 1990 movie, listeners will find Dave Stewart, Glen Ballard and Joel Rubin's score takes flight marvelously. There are some terrific pastiches of 1980s rock as well as some electrifying gospel and funk-infused numbers delivered with gusto by Sharon D. Clarke as Oda Mae Brown. In addition, Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy, as the central lovers, both prove appealing, and it's easy for even those unfamiliar with the source material to follow their story thanks to the copious amount of dialogue included on the disc.
Dean Regan -- Give My Regards to Broadway (deanregan.com)
Roughly 120 years of musical theater are represented on this genuinely satisfying disc, which displays the singer's deftly light touch with material that ranges from a classic patter song (Gilbert & Sullivan's "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from The Pirates of Penzance) to modern power ballads like Wicked's showstopping "Defying Gravity." The material has been lavishly arranged for a nine-piece ensemble, and among the other highlights are a grand medley from Man of La Mancha and a brassy and swingin' "Luck Be a Lady" (from Guys and Dolls).
Lee Lessack -- Chanteur (LML Music)
Lessack, one of cabaret's brightest lights, gracefully guides the listener through a baker's dozen of songs from what might be termed the Great French Songbook on this always enjoyable Continental album. Many of the songs on the recording will be familiar to most listeners, including "If We Only Have Love" (from Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well...) and "The Windmills of Your Mind," which is elegantly paired with "Autumn Leaves." Lessack, who sings in both French and English on the disc, uses his smooth baritone to exquisite effect throughout, but never more so than in the delicately passionate ballad "I Will Wait for You" (from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg).
Lea Salonga -- The Journey So Far-Recorded Live at Cafe Carlyle (LML Music)
Salonga offers up a musical memoir on this enchanting live recording of a show seen at the Café Carlyle last year. The Tony Award-winning singer's vocals sparkle throughout, as she performs standards from musicals she appeared in as a child in her homeland of the Philippines ("I Have Dreamed" from The King and I is particularly lovely) or from ones she's starred in as an adult ("On My Own" from Les Miz). In addition, delightful surprises crop up, notably a tender ballad cut from Miss Saigon and "There's Nothing I Wouldn't Do," a hysterical specialty number from songwriters Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler.
Tom Michael -- Let Me Be Your Home (LML Music)
An undercurrent of romance runs through this 12-track disc featuring a shrewd mix of show tunes and pop classics. Michael's appealing tenor makes such songs as Stephen Sondheim's "So Many People" (from Saturday Night) and Paul Franco Webster and Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow of Your Smile" pulse with emotion. For many of the tracks, pianist Beckie Menzie joins Michael, and their voices combine superbly, particularly in a playful medley of "Chicago," "Celebrate My Home" and "Where You Lead." Another shrewd medley combines "Give Me the Simple Life" and "Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning" so that they sound like the warnings sounded early in a love affair.
David Burnham -- One Day (LML Music)
Burnham turns primarily to the songbook of his pianist and the album's producer Mark Vogel, lending his powerhouse vocals to songs such as the inspirational "I Can Fly" (heard in two versions, including one that also features young people from Camp Sing) and "Three Little Words," a retro tune that fuses doo-wop and rock and roll to fascinating and infectious effect. More familiar songs on the disc include Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" (which has been arranged to sound as if it might be a Celtic standard) and a sublimely willowy interpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" (from Carousel).
Jason Graae -- Perfect Hermany (Kritzerland)
Graae's sunny vocals beautifully match Jerry Herman's optimistic tunes on this upbeat recording of a one-man show he offered at the Colony Theatre in Burbank last May. The recording features some of the songwriter's most familiar songs, such as "Before the Parade Passes By" (from Hello, Dolly!) and "I Am What I Am" (from La Cage), along with lesser known ones, including the sumptuously melodic "Marianne" (from the infrequently seen The Grand Tour). While Graae's patter might sometimes be a bit precious, it's little matter once he ably launches into the music which he so clearly adores.
Jim Van Slyke -- Sedaka Sessions (LML Music)
There's an almost gossamer quality to Van Slyke's tenor as he wends his way through some of songwriter Neil Sedaka's biggest hits on this always charming disc. In some instances, Van Slyke's renditions stick closely to the style of the artists who originally delivered them, particularly "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "The Diary." In others, the tunes have been given a new, distinctive sound, such as the brooding take on "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do." There are some clever medleys, as well, arranged by pianist Tim DiPasqua with Van Slyke, including one of "Pray for Rain" and "Laughter in the Rain." As a special treat, Sedaka joins the singer for "The Immigrant."