TONY TALK #1: The Sound of the Season on Broadway

When it comes to musicals, we all know that there is nothing as delightful as hearing the cast album for a show that you cannot see for whatever reason. In this instance, we're talking about cast albums from this past Broadway season which, unless you have oodles of cash lying around, will simply have to be enjoyed through the medium of the cast albums.

The phrases "cast albums" and "Tony Awards" have always gone hand in hand for me ever since I was a much younger child who only had Tony Award clips and cast albums to live through and this season's albums are no different to the fantastic ones that came before them. In fact, some of the best cast recordings I have ever heard have come from this season and we're about to talk through just that.

Music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles (Tony Award nominee)
One of the most highly anticipated cast albums of this year was the cast album to new Broadway musical Waitress, with music and lyrics by pop star and Grammy phenomenon Sara Bareilles. With a cast led by Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller, the album has already proved to be a smash both inside and outside of the theatre community, and the album has only been out for about a week. With fantastic songs like "Opening Up", "Bad Idea" and of course, the already classic "She Used to Be Mine", the album is a blend of all of the styles Bareilles usually writes in. If you like Legally Blonde and Finding Neverland then you'll love the music to Waitress.

2014 Tony Award winner and 2016 Tony nominee Jessie Mueller stars in Waitress on Broadway

Music and Lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray (2006 Tony Award nominees)
Before this new, minimalist revival of The Colour Purple, it was a Broadway show that a lot of people knew about, but no one really liked. So when the show was announced for a Broadway return, the theatre community were understandably skeptical; at the time of the show being announced, the only strong, new thing it seemed to have to its name was Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery and British theatrical superstar Cynthia Erivo. When the show exploded onto the stage, audiences and critics alike fell in love and finally understood what the piece could accomplish when done correctly and the stunning cast album is a testament to that. Personal favourites include "What About Love", "African Homeland" and Erivo's showstopping rendition of "I'm Here".

Music and Lyrics by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell (Tony Award nominees)
One of the freshest and latest new Broadway musicals is Bright Star at the Cort, probably most well known for its very famous musical composers. The score for the piece is a bluegrass / Broadway fusion which makes for something much more eccentric and different in comparison to the other scores mentioned on this list. Personal favourites from the album include "If You Knew My Story" and "I Can't Wait" - if you like shows like Once, you'll definitely like Bright Star.

2016 Tony Award nominee Carmen Cusack stars in Bright Star at the Cort Theatre on Broadway
Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tony Award nominee)
Has anyone else ever even heard of this musical? I've literally never heard of it... Regardless, I did get the album the day it was released almost a year ago now and embraced the hype that surrounded this cultural phenomenon of a show. With music of a hip-hop and rap blend - as well as a few hauntingly beautiful choral ballads - the album was such a success that it's broken tonnes of download records worldwide and even won a Grammy this year. If you haven't heard this album yet then I'd be surprised, but personal favourites include "Satisfied", "The Room Where it Happens" and "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story".

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lyrics by Glenn Slater (Tony Award nominees)
When I was younger, School of Rock was a film that I'd watch relentlessly with my Dad and we've bonded over it and quoted it in conversation ever since, so you can understand that I was pretty ecstatic when they finally made a stage musical about it, and with music by Lord Lloyd Webber no less. While I don't love the entire album, it's definitely a fantastic new score to introduce to younger people who are perhaps just getting into the Broadway scene, or for those who are fans of much more "rock" influenced theatrical scores. Personal favourites include "Where Did The Rock Go", "Teacher's Pet" and "Time to Play".

Gavin Creel and 2016 Tony Award nominee Jane Krakowski perform "Ilona" from She Loves Me

Music by Jerry Bock and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
I love Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick music and their romantic score for She Loves Me is no exception to the rule. With a new all star cast led by Tony Award-nominees Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski, the music has never sounded quite as beautiful as this. It's a proper "old school Broadway" score so if you like the music of shows like Gypsy and Hello, Dolly!, then I am sure you'd like the music from She Loves Me. Personal favourites include "I Resolve", "Ilona" and "A Trip to the Library". Oh, and there is nothing like Benanti's rendition of "Vanilla Ice Cream".
Other great albums from this season that I didn't mention include the new cast recording from Fiddler on the Roof as well as albums from new shows like On Your Feet! and Tuck Everlasting.

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