Posted on 07/28/2020
With theater doors still closed across the country, listening to original cast recordings is a great way to fill the void and recreate the magic of live theater as we wait for this extra-long intermission to end. With a few months of quarantine behind us, you’ve probably gotten sick of listening to your favorite cast recordings over and over again, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! Check out these three hidden gems of musical theater.
Have you been watching Rent on repeat since quarantine started? Did you know that Jonathan Larson wrote another lesser-known musical? Tick, Tick… Boom! is an autographical musical written by Larson, originally performed as a solo piece before being revamped as a three-actor musical after he passed away. The revised production premiered off-Broadway in 2001 and has received many subsequent productions, including a film adaptation of Tick, Tick… Boom! in the works. If you liked the rock musical style of Rent, you’ll be happy to find a similar style in Tick, Tick… Boom!
Highlights: "Come to Your Senses," "Why"
Speaking of rock musicals, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, writers of the beloved musical Spring Awakening, premiered a new musical called Alice By Heart off-Broadway in 2019. Taking place in 1941 London in the aftermath of the London Blitz of World War II, Alice Spencer escapes from her underground shelter into Wonderland with her best friend Alfred who is quarantined with tuberculosis. As she and Alfred journey through Wonderland, she changes parts of the story she knows by heart. With a score that shares Spring Awakening’s dark beauty and a cast including stage and screen stars Molly Gordon, Colton Ryan, Noah Galvin, and Wesley Taylor, this is a cast recording worth listening to. If you like what you hear, see Duncan Sheik live in person when he visits the State Theatre as part of Making the Music on February 28, 2021!
Highlights: "Down the Hole," "Another Room in Your Head," "I’ve Shrunk Enough"
During difficult times like these, romantic comedies are the perfect mood-booster, and what could be better than a musical romantic comedy? First Date, which ran on Broadway in 2013, tells the story of a less-than-perfect first date between Aaron and Casey, played by Zachary Levi (you may recognize him as Shazam) and Krysta Rodriguez (known for her roles on Smash and in The Addams Family musical). The songs are catchy and upbeat, and they’re sure to make you laugh—though one or two of them might make you cry! For a behind the scenes look, check out this video of Levi and Rodriguez recording "First Impressions" in the studio.
Highlights: "First Impressions," "Safer," "The Things I Never Said"
Each of these cast recordings can be found on your music platform of choice. This is just the tip of the iceberg of underrated musicals, so if you like these, there are so many more to discover as you wait for theaters to reopen. Happy listening!