CD REVIEW: On The Town – New Broadway Cast Recording

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews

Fans of the iconic musical On The Town have waited a long time for the first complete recording of the stage production – almost 70 years in fact. Despite recordings in 1944, 1960 and 1995, many theatre fans were left disappointed when parts of the score were either omitted, truncated or recorded in the studio. Thankfully, 70 years after its premiere, PS Classics has released the first complete recording of a stage production of On The Town and it’s certainly worth the wait.

Based on the 1944 musical created by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jerome Robbins, On The Town tells the story of three sailors on 24-hour shore leave who take on the Big Apple for love, life and adventure. The award-winning musical was made into a film in 1949 starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller and features some of the most beloved songs in musical theatre history including New York New York, Lonely Town, Lucky to Be Me and Some Other Time.

Following its successful revival at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway, PS Classics has released the first complete New Broadway Cast Recording of the hit musical. Produced by Howard and Janet Kagan and seven-time Grammy Award-nominee Robert Sher, the stunning soundtrack features the complete Bernstein score with outstanding vocal performances from the cast and music performed by the largest orchestra on Broadway.

What makes this recording so special is that it has been made with the musical theatre lover in mind. The deluxe two-disc CD recording features a substantial booklet with lyrics, short essays and stunning photos from the stage production, all in a handsomely designed sleeve. Add to this more than an hour and a half worth of music and you’re onto a winner.

Tony Yazbeck gives a thrilling vocal performance as the romantic sailor Gabey, demonstrating his smooth tenor vocals in ballads such as Lonely Town and Lucky to Be Me. Clyde Alves and Jay Armstrong Johnson are also equally strong as fellow sailors Ozzie and Chip, although the over-exaggerated responses do sound a little overwrought at times.

Elizabeth Stanley puts in a strong performance as Claire thanks to her magnificent soprano voice and perfect comic timing. Alysha Umphress also impresses as the man-hungry taxi driver Hildy, offering a unique take on the character as she scats and belts her way through big numbers like I Can Cook Too and Come Up to My Place.

The true star however is Bernstein’s full and rapturous score, expertly performed by the large 28 piece orchestra conducted by James Moore. The talented musicians move through the recognisable score with flair and finesse, providing the perfect accompaniment to Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s witty lyrics.

On The Town may have made its premiere over 70 years ago but it still remains a musical treasure, with one of the finest scores ever written for the stage. A true musical theatre delight.

4 out of 5 stars

On The Town is available from PS Classics

Reviewer: Donna Kelly