Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Harry Connick, part 1

I received my copy of Harry Connick Jr.'s Harry on Broadway, Act 1. I just listened to The Pajama Game. Like most musical recordings, actually, there are certain tracks that just don't translate well to listen-only mode. There is something to be said for not only visuals, but context. Comedy numbers by the character leads are often like that. Ensemble dance numbers are often like that. It's no different here. (It's no different for musicals from South Pacific to Rent, for that matter.)

There are two flavors of listenable tracks on The Pajama Game...the Sid/Babe duets, and the Gladys "hot" numbers. In the former category we have "Hey There", "Small Talk" and "There Once Was a Man." Harry Connick Jr. has a smooth, Sinatra-like flavor. I was wondering as "There Once Was a Man" if he was going to pull out the more booming belt of that number, given that he typically is more laid back. Never fear he does go for the gusto. As does Kelli O'Hara, who surely establishes herself as one of today's more versatile young women on Broadway. The leap from The Light on the Piazza to The Pajama Game is a big one! She reminds me a bit of Marin Mazzie...who can belt it out with the best of them and has a wonderful lyrical soprano voice too. Same kind of retro beauty too.

The other crowd-pleasing numbers are, of course, "Steam Heat" and "Hernando's Hideaway." Definitely more fun to see than just to listen to, but still pretty fun on recording. Where The Pajama Game just loses me is with its overall plot and secondary plot lines (secondary to Sid and Babe I mean.) Forgive me for bringing politics into musical theatre, but with the Senate once again striking down the notion of a minimum wage hike, and the current minimum wage leaving a full-time worker below the poverty line, I don't find the whole "Seven-and-a-half Cents" number amusing. And if it was played with irony on stage, well, I missed it.

Politics over, I also have to say that the comic duo's numbers don't translate that well to a listen-only mode. i.e. they're not so funny.

Then again, my memory of seeing this show a few years back in London is that the show is pretty dated...its humor and its ethos.

I wonder if this is available on iTunes, because like most musicals, I'm sure there are but a few songs I'll listen to, while skipping the filler between leading man and lady ballads!

Oddly enough, I went to see a teen summer theatre production of "The Pajama Game" last weekend at Diablo Valley Community College, and it was unexpectedly wonderful.

I have an account of it on my blog which might amuse you:

I love Harry, but I have to say I wasn't a fan of the Gladys in this production - just didn't find her voice pleasing to listen to.
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