Original Cast Recording
I wasnt sure I would ever make any notes on this album rather than just leaving it as a listed item in my library for my own reference (track list, etc.), but after reading Sondheims Look, I Made a HatCollected Lyrics (19812011) (etc.) in 2017 and being taken through the shows development through various incarnations (Reading, Workshop, this stage production, and eventually the show Road Show) I felt I should give it another full listening with all that in mind and see what could be noted that might be of interest to someone curious about this musical.
One thing I observed right away upon revisiting the recording was that something that had left me uncomfortable with the musical the first time around actually was an outright negative I hadnt recognized as such: Richard Kinds voice. Kind, as Addison Mizner, is fine as an actor but three things about his voice are just flat-out wrong here.
First, he has muffled/fuzzy consonants, as if theyre lost in a walrus mustache or he has a harelip-type speech impediment. Second, he has a New York accent which is completely inappropriate for California-raised Mizner and casts the whole sound falsley upon the ear with regard to the characters origins and social perspective. Third, and just barely worst, is that hes FLAT. He falls short on nearly every upper note, not even high-upper ones he just kind of nudges the vicinity of where the upper notes are of any given phrase and slinks back down to the lower ones as if to sulk in the latter.
Having put that right out there, Ill go into this recording more after concluding that Im now curious to hear how Addison comes across in Road Show, given that its recording features a different actor. Certainly the written lyrics arent a problem when it comes to engaging with Addisonthose work in both versions, as Sondheim has let me see via his book.
I enjoyed this recording in general upon first hearing, aside from the aforementioned discomfort about Kinds voice, and although it never completely wowed me or swept me up in rapture I certainly did have moments I liked and especially lyricsnot specific lines so much as the whole fabric, which really worked well. Probably the lyric I found I liked most, unexpectedly, was The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened, with its humorously deft variations of the titles possible verb declensions and what they suggest with regard to the characters current self-assessment in the ongoing story. That this becomes in Road Show a duet between Addison and Hollis kinda ups the ante a bit, as it is then a male-male duet, but in this iteration things get a little more playful (especially when Nellie sings You are the best thing that still hasnt happened to me, as the song is taken over by I Love This Town and repeatedly interrupted).
Comments © 2017 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.