The Top 10 Theater-Related Recordings of 2013

Categories: Music

evita1230.jpg
The start of it all
Imagine you're a kid with big dreams. It's a balmy Christmas in Crosby, Texas. You're opening presents with your family and unwrap the 1978 Original Broadway Cast Recording of Evita. Your mother, who gifted it to you, beams with joy at your surprise. You wanted the film soundtrack, but this more than suffices. Eventually, the family conversation drifts to dreams, and you proudly assert that one day you'll be a leading theater critic in New York City. Now, fast-forward to 2013. That goal hasn't actualized, but you're steps closer. You're the official recordings critic for BroadwayWorld.com and a freelance writer for Houston Press, and just like that young 6th grader in Crosby, you're still mesmerized by the best music Broadway has to offer. So, as we reflect on our life choices and the past 365 days, it's with pleasure that I share my Top 10 picks for theater-related recordings from 2013.

Please note: For my own sanity, these choices are presented in alphabetical order.

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Courtesy of Concord Records.
Cover art for Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County - In many ways, this album is caught between the worlds of Concept Album and Studio Cast Recording. It is an auditory representation of the music from John Mellencamp and Stephen King's musical venture, but it is not a traditional cast recording by any means. The physical album features dialog excerpts from King's book, turning the recording into a fascinating radio play and making it superior, in my opinion, to the digital release, which is just the music. Regardless, Mellencamp's dark and evocative score is memorable and emotionally rich. His music is jarring and pairs well with the ambience audiences expect from King, often heralded as America's premiere master of horror. The album can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon.

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Courtesy of Ghostlight Records.
Cover art for Giant (Original Cast Recording).
Giant (Original Cast Recording) - Adapted from Edna Ferber's novel by the same title, Michael John LaChiusa created what is quite possibly his most commercial/mainstream score yet. With an epic scope, his sweeping and soaring orchestrations vividly create images of Texas' wide open spaces in the minds of listeners. Paired with his grand orchestrations, his expressive lyrics, especially those that focus on unfaltering hope and large dreams, are easy to get lost in. From its opening to its finale, this album is sure to sweep listeners away. The album can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon.


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Courtesy of Broadway Records.
Cover art for I Could Use a Drink: The Songs of Drew Gasparini.
I Could Use a Drink: The Songs of Drew Gasparini - The winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Award in 2006, Drew Gasparini has repeatedly proven himself to be accomplished at his craft. He has written the music, book, and lyrics for four musicals and has also had a song featured on NBC's SMASH. This record, a brief collection of his music, is a testament to his skill. Every number sparkles with life, whether the songs are witty, touching, or poignant. There is not a single bad track on the recording, and it has become a true staple in my car as I commute around the city of Houston. The album can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon.

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Courtesy of Vision 9 Records.
Cover art for Imagine Paradise.
Imagine Paradise by Levi Kreis - For this record, Tony Award winning actor Levi Kreis takes listeners back to the glory days of '70s disco and R&B with this collection of vibrant music. Each uplifting and fun track will have listeners dancing along to the infectious beats. Also, across the album he promotes the ideals of self-love, self-acceptance, embracing individuality, and casting off anything that doesn't improve you. This is feel good music at its finest, and one of my absolute favorite albums of 2013 both within and outside of the world of theater. The album can be purchased from CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.

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