Nice Work If You Can Get It (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (Shout! Factory)
The care that's gone into this new cast album is apparent as soon as it begins playing and an overture, expanded from the music heard in the Imperial Theatre where the show is playing, strikes its first big, brassy, notes. This is an old-fashioned recording – in the best sense – that's chockfull of great Gershwin songs like "Someone to Watch Over Me," "S'wonderful," and "Fascinating Rhythm," each sounding exceptionally crisp and vibrant while also freshly minted thanks to Bill Elliott's orchestrations. And while the music sparkles, so too, do the performances. Both Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara, playing, respectively, the oft-married playboy and the gun-toting bootlegger he falls for, give their vocals exceptional shading on the recording, and turns that are hysterical onstage are equally funny on disc, particularly Judy Kaye (whom one can sense swinging back and forth during "Looking for a Boy") and Jennifer Laura Thompson who sends "Delishious" to heights of squealing vanity.
Bring It On (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (Back Lot Music)
This new cast recording will send a burst of contemporary energy into musical theater lovers' collections. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt's music for this show, playing at the St. James Theatre, set in the world of competitive high school cheerleading, zings with the sort of sounds typically heard in today's top hits, and their tunes are outfitted with frequently wry, smile-inducing lyrics from Miranda and Amanda Green. The youthful cast delivers the score with panache, particularly principals Taylor Louderman, who belts out a couple of anthems with gusto, Adrienne Warren, whose stylings have a sassiness that's remarkably appealing, and Elle McLemore, whose over-the-top comic turn is as funny on disc as it is in the theater.
A Christmas Story - The Musical (World Premiere Recording) (Masterworks Broadway)
After demonstrating their felicity in melding the sounds of the 1960s with musical theater vernacular in the off-Broadway musical Dogfight, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul show that they can also emulate sounds of an earlier era with this tuner, soon to open at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, that's based on the ever-popular holiday film. The show's awash in tunes that evoke the sounds of the 1940s, from the kinds of driving tunes that underscored Wild West movies to jingles that played on the radio. This album features the show's appealing touring cast, along with special guests Liz Callaway and Tom Wopat, and their work is superbly supported by Larry Blank's spot-on orchestrations.
Carrie: The Musical (Premiere Cast Recording) (Ghostlight Records)
As if owning – at long last – a legitimate recording of the infamous Broadway flop based on Stephen King's teen horror tale Carrie were not enough, this album that preserves the revised version of the show that played off-Broadway features the uncompromisingly dynamic performances of Marin Mazzie and Molly Ranson, as mother and daughter Margaret and Carrie White, whose powerhouse voices send songs like "When There's No One," "And Eve Was Weak," and the musical's title number soaring. There's solid supporting work, too, particularly from Christy Altomare as "good girl" Sue, and while not all of the material from composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford is sterling (notably one of the new numbers, "The World According to Chris"), the album has been given a first-class packaging and it's a disc that will be savored and debated for years to come.