(October 14, 2005)

BROADWAY: The American Musical
A History of Broadway
ABC DVD 104998-9 Musical

This sensational series on the history of the Broadway musical was originally presented on PBS television in the United States. Recently televised on the ABC on Sunday nights, this award winning series is now yours to own on DVD. Whilw no one series of this nature is absolutely complete, this series is a must have for any musical theatre enthusiast. It is also an excellent resource for music and drama teachers at all school levels.

My Favourite Broadway
The Leading Ladies Live at Carnegie Hall
DVD 8573862202 Musical
This DVD is a treasure. It conveys the electric excitement between the performers and the audience, and what a list of performers: Karen Ziemba, Bebe Neuwirth, Marin Mazzie, Linda Eder, Andrea McArdle, Jennifer Holliday, Priscilla Lopez, Debra Monk, Nell Carter, Dorothy Loudon, Liza Minelli, Audra McDonald, Judy Kuhn, Rebecca Luker, Dee Hoty, Lea DeLaria, Faith Prince, Anna Kendricks and Elaine Stritch, hosted by Julie Andrews. Most of these talented ladies perform songs that they introduced as members of the original cast of their respective productions. This makes the recording both historically valuable and exciting. The orchestra is conducted by the legendary Broadway conductor, Paul Gemignani. If you know these women, you will want to watch this show. If you don’t know these women, you should, and you will never forget them after you watch and listen to ‘The Leading Ladies’.


Hey Mr Producer
Cameron Mackintosh
VHS 3984271293 Musical

This recording still awaits a release on DVD. It is the full recording of shows produced by the prolific champion of the ‘Broadway’ musical Cameron Mackintosh. You can be sure that Mr Mackintosh did not let this show in his honor get produced without his adding his personal touch. Like My Favourite Broadway – The Leading Ladies Live at Carnegie Hall, this is a star studded event. But the stars do not shine on their own. It is thanks to the expert musical and stage direction that these events have the audience impact that they do. This is a must see recording in its entirety (164 minutes). If you watched the version shown on television you only saw half the story.


Les Misérables
The Dream Cast
DVD 3984239272 Musical

Don’t think that every musical DVD is a gem, but this one is also a must have for your collection. The recording was made live at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Les Misérables in London. Re-packaging this recording under the title of The Dream Cast is very appropriate. It is a dream cast. Comprised of performers from productions around the world this is no ordinary concert.

Supported by a chorus of 100 voices (not credited on the DVD or CD) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this is a performance of operatic stature. Les MisérablesThe Musical is a unique musical production that stands in a category of its own in the classification of musical theatre productions. While the full theatrical interpretation never fails to impress its audience, this concert performance in full costume suits the medium of DVD and the television screen to a tee and is a must have for your collection.


Sweeney Todd in Concert
Patti LuPone & George Hearn
DVD 0927462372 Musical

Here is a Stephen Sondheim musical that was preserved in its original staging on VHS starring the original Mrs Lovett, Angela Lansbury and George Hearn (who co-starred  with Ms Lansbury in the national tour) as Sweeney Todd. One hopes that this recording will receive a transfer to DVD sometime very soon. In the mean time, Sweeney Todd in Concert starring Patti LuPone as Mrs Lovett and Mr Hearn re-creating his performance as Sweeney, has been preserved on DVD. This concert version of Sweeney Todd was orignally created for performance by the New York Philharmonic. A CD was made of this concert and has had limited release on the New York Philharmonic label.

This DVD is a recording of the concert version presented by the San Francisco Symphony, once again starring Ms LuPone and Mr Hearn, with some but not all of the supporting cast from the New York Philharmonic recording. It is an entertaining and credible performance, and one that I’m sure was worth seeing live. For those of us not fortunate enough to be able to attend these events, audio and video recordings are always worth having and watching.

It is wonderful to see as well as hear Patti LuPone, Davis Gaines (Anthony Hope), Timothy Nolan (Judge Turpin) and the rest of the cast perform in this incarnation of what is now a Stephen Sondheim classic. However, I still refer to my opening comment and hope the original will be available soon on DVD too.


Sunday in the Park with George
Michael Brandman, Emanuel Azenberg and The Shubert Organisation in association with American Playhouse.
DVD 8573861452 Musical

This is a complete Broadway production preserved on DVD. Originally available on VHS, this DVD version delivers the higher quality video and audio you would expect. In addition there is a full-length commentary about the show by Stephen Sondheim (composer and lyricists), James Lapine (book and direction), Mandy Patinkin (George) and Bernadette Peters (Dot). Sunday in the Park with George is a work of fiction based on the life of George Seurat and his most famous painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Seurat belonged to the Neo-impressionism school of painting during his short life (1859—1891). His contemporaries included Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac, Gauguin, Cézanne, Bernard and Van Gogh. Little is known about Seurat’s life, but this monumental painting is testimony to his ideas about style and technique, color and light.

James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim have conjured up a story that is as daring as Seurat’s painting when he created it. The story is witty and imaginative, portraying the characters in the painting and the method used to create it as subject matter in Act 1. Act 2 begins with a bridge between the past and the present. The present places another George (the great-grandson of Seurat) in the spotlight as a contemporary artist suffering for his art as he vies for the dollars of late 20th century patrons and philanthropists.

Sunday in the Park with George is quirky, yet hypnotically enticing musical theatre.

The bonus full-length commentary on the DVD is lighthearted and enlightening, making this DVD good value for musical theatre enthusiasts.


Coming Soon Reviews of:
Into The Woods
Original Broadway Cast
DVD 8573861482 Musical


My Favourite Broadway

Love Songs
DVD 8573891702 Musical



Julie Andrews
DVD 8573851322 Musical

Original Broadway Cast
DVD 0927438792 Musical


Chicago -the Movie
DVD E03860 Musical


West Side Story - the Movie
MGM Home Entertainment

DVD 10000213 Musical


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - the Movie

MGM Home Entertainment
DVD 10000035 Musical