1. Untitled Opening Number
2. Two Nobodies in New York
3. An Original Musical
4. Monkeys And Playbills
5. The Tony Award Song
6. Part Of It All
7. I Am Playing Me
8. What Kind Of Girl Is She?
9. Die Vampire, Die!
10. Filling Out The Form
11. September Song
12. Secondary Characters
13. A Way Back To Then
14. Nine People’s Favorite Thing
16. Bonus Track: [title of show]
The bad news? It turns out [title of show] really was “nine people’s favorite thing” rather than “a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.” The show, which opened on July 17, will close on October 12 after a mere 115 performances on Broadway. But still, there’s got to be good news, hasn’t there?
Well, for one thing, thanks to the 2006 off-Broadway recording of [title of show], produced by Kurt Deutsch and Joel Moss of Ghostlight records, the four-person cast of this season’s first Broadway closure will live on to be heard by generations to come.
It turns out the writers are suspiciously prescient. The show’s penultimate song, Nine People’s Favorite Thing, touches on this very subject. “And maybe someday if we’re lucky enough,” Hunter and Jeff sing, “we’ll all be in a studio recording the show. And ten years from now when we play the cast album this track on the CD will remind us why we’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s favorite thing.”
The show, a metamusical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical, features Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen as Hunter and Jeff respectively, as well as their two friends Heidi Blickenstaff and Susan Blackwell, who also portray themselves. The show has changed only slightly since its off-Broadway run, with segments added during September Song to include details of the show’s Broadway run. The score, however, is mostly the same, and this CD serves as a vibrant reminder of the ingeniousness of the show.
The cast is vocally sound all around, but the ladies get more chances to shine. Heidi and Susan share two numbers – What Kind Of Girl Is She? and Secondary Characters – that are funny, understated nods to musical theatre convention. Susan is an off-beat delight, leading the cast in the inspirational Die Vampire, Die! And Heidi’s A Way Back To Then is a wistful homage to her childhood dreams of a life on the stage. That said, Jeff and Hunter get their moments to shine, particularly when the two pair up in singing Two Nobodies In New York, an exploration of theatrical ambition.
Jeff Bowen‘s score, by no means revolutionary, is simple, tuneful and funny. Comic numbers like the Schoolhouse Rock-style how-to song An Original Musical and Monkeys and Playbills, a song comprised of the names of a litter of Broadway flops, are balanced by gentler numbers like A Way Back To Then and the touching Finale.
What I’m most thankful for here is the inclusion of ample amounts of dialogue from the show. Too much dialogue can unexpectedly throw off the listening experience of a cast album, but much of the charm of [title of show] in particular is in the cast’s exchanges between songs. The jokes never miss, and the humor stands up to repeated listens. Including so many spoken lines serves to bring the cast recording almost into the category of comedy album, but the cast grounds the humorous bits of the show in a zany sense of theatricality.
Ghostlight Records includes a bonus track on the recording (hearing the way the cast pronounces “bonus track” is in itself a treat), making this recording even more worth owning. Yes, [title of show] may be tossing in its hand on Broadway, but this recording displays the quality of that hand – a flat-out flush.