Chaplin: The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I guess the timing wasn't right for the Broadway run of "Chaplin: The Musical" it opened on September 10, 2012, after three weeks of previews, and the cast album was recorded on November 4th and 5th. The digital version of the album was released on December 4th with the CD to be released on January 8, 2013. The show, however, closed just 2 days before the CD release.

I first heard about the show - with a book by Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and newbie Christopher Curtis with music and lyrics by Curtis - when it played the New York Musical Festival in 2006. It was then titled "Behind the Limelight". I remember hearing a song or two on the internet and waited for an album. When I heard that Sony Masterworks was issuing it, I was really looking forward to it. The CD came last week and, while I like it, I can't say I love it. But that's not the reason for my four star rating. I always expect high quality packaging in Sony Masterworks releases but this one is a letdown and, if you have not seen the show - and now that it is closed, one can only hope for a regional theater revival - you will find yourself lost - as I did (and I know at least something about Chaplin beyond his movies).
I see that the two reviews posted just before me gave five stars and rave about the production. I can only guess that these two well-informed reviewers saw the production. But I could be wrong.
Before I get to the CD itself I'll describe the 12 panel booklet enclosed. Six of the panels are are full page photos. There is one page with cast members and their roles, one page with the recording credits, one page with the production credits and two pages listing the 20 tracks and the characters who sing them. That leaves one page where co-writer Meehan writes four short paragraphs "About Chaplin" telling us why he feels the show covers "the man". What's missing? How about at least a synopsis of the play which notations as to where the songs fit? I can't remember the last OC album I had that didn't contain at least that! There's a major song in Act II where Rob McClure - as Chaplin - sings "The Life That You Wished For", but anyone who only knows Chaplin as a movie star would have no idea of why he was singing this? It's not until Track 18 - where McClure gets to recite the full 30-second speech that Chaplin gave at the 1972 Academy Awards - that a novice would understand Chaplin's exile from the US for political reasons. Sure, I'd love to have the full lyrics included - some words are overpowered by the musicians (which, by the way amount to just a 10-person orchestra) - but if you don't know very much about Chaplin, you will probably be lost without at least a story line. (And don't look to the shows website - I didn't see much there either).
The CD itself runs 52-minutes. The show runs 2 hours and 15 minutes plus intermission. The music is varied and there are some tuneful numbers. The third track "Whatcha Gonna Do?" (which features both the young Charlie, the adult Charlie and his mother - though I don't know why) sounds like it would be right at home in Lionel Bart's "Oliver" since it's a sound-alike to "Consider Yourself". Both scenes take place in England. The obvious "show stopper" on stage must have been "When It All Falls Down" sung by Jenn Colella as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. It's another catchy song.
Now, I'm glad it was recorded for preservation. Many of these shows go unrecorded during their run and then have to be re-created by independent labels like PS Classics (which puts superb booklets in their releases.). I hope this is not the first of cutbacks at Sony Masterworks Broadway. It would be a shame.
So my rating is really a 3.5 stars for the CD release but I'm rounding to four to give it the benefit of the doubt. Just know, going in, what the package contains.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
For me the original cast recording of Chaplin is OK--just so-so. This might be the kind of show that must be seen to be appreciated. The sets, costumes, choreography, performers, etc. probably made it more exciting than it is on the CD.

The music is alright--nothing special. It sounds like many other shows throughout the years. It is reminiscent of Oliver, Barnum, Mack and Mabel and other better shows than Chaplin.

There are a few really showstopper-type songs, the first being the Sennett Song and the other being the Hedda Hopper song. Chaplin's life is told from his early London days to his Hollywood days to super stardom to the downfall because of his political beliefs to his return to Los Angeles to pick up an Oscar for his contribution to the movies. There is nothing poignant or heart tugging about any of it. It's just very matter-of-factly presented.

Rob McClure is fine as Chaplin. Jenn Colella as Hedda Hopper is a stand-out. The rest of the cast is good except for Christiane Noll, a very fine singer-entertainer, who I find very irritating as Chaplin's mother.

For me it's just a so-so Broadway musical. A two and a half stars for the show and three stars for the overall performances.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2013
Excellent! I cannot fathom why this show has closed already on Broadway. (Actually, yes I can, but more on that in a minute!) Chaplin is the presentation of Charlie's life before, during and in the collapse of his Little Tramp character. While his story may be familiar to some, to me it wasn't. I have yet to figure out if that's an advantage or a disadvantage in writing these short reviews. The show is crammed full of historic detail and period costumes. The stage is often filled with dancers. When the stage is "filled with" the presence of The Little Tramp himself, star Rob McClure, he is larger than life in the part. His show-stopping song, What Only Love Can See, is positioned perfectly in the flow of events as to be especially memorable. The show ending will not leave a dry eye in the house! Owning and playing the OBC is only a substitution, albeit a superb one, for seeing the actual production.

So what went wrong? I would summarize all that in one word "perfection". Chaplin used a full orchestra every show ($$); 10 dancers didn't suffice as well as 15-20 ($$), the elaborate stage setting certainly was no relative of the phrase "Bare bones" ($$). So, yes, the producers were providing quality at every turn. Unfortunately such quality has to be funded by the response of the patrons. To cover a show like this, ticket prices bordered on the outrageous. If families was to introduce their children to the world of Broadway musicals, which would YOU choose: the latest show trying to make its way (i.e. higher ticket $$) or the established musical you know kids will enjoy? A "serious" musical over a "family-friendly fun fest"? Results: excellent shows which highlight their craft close early,

I feel like I have strayed too far from my original review of the Original Broadway Cast of Chaplin: The Musical. Sorry! Let me return to the point I was trying to make. This is a wonderful album; clearly and enthusiastically recorded for the public. If you saw the musical, you will definitely wish to add this recording to your collection simply for the memories it carries with it. If you didn't see the musical, the music contained herein is well worth the Amazon price! You won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2013
and the performances are awesome. I find myself listening to it over and over--in my car and elsewhere! Rob McClure is utterly astounding, and the songs are absolutely lovely. I am absolutely sick that I did not see this show on Broadway, especially after seeing some of the video clips online.
I think this would be a difficult show for a community theater to do without a fantastic Chaplin at the center of it. You would swear McClure is British.
It is moving, poignant, funny, and the best new score I have heard in a while. And I have hundreds of Broadway musical recordings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2013
The show didn't meet the critics standards or expectations (whatever they are!) and they were probably the reason for the short run of the show. I saw the show . . . absolutely loved it! So glad they recorded the C.D. (it didn't come out until after the show closed.)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2013
It is always a pleasant surprise when a bio-musical is written that is engaging and keeps the audience concerned with the characters. It is even more refreshing when the recording of the score maintains that attraction. "Chaplin: The Musical," is one of those musicals.

My first impulse when initially listening to the Broadway Cast Recording of this new musical, which unfortunately closed at the Barrymore on January 6th, was "who composed this score, with its stimulating melodies, spread out among all the principal performers?" Christopher Curtis, a newcomer to the Broadway world, has created a timeless story about the famous movie actor, Charlie Chaplin (1889 - 1977), who rose to stardom, only to be exiled later in his life for his "supposed" communist sympathies. But Curtis' work is more than assisted by the strong collaborative team put in place to see the 24-character show to New York. From co-bookwriter Thomas Meehan ("Annie") to director Warren Carlyle ("Hugh Jackman - Back on Broadway"), the creative team has amassed a highly, talented cast, led by Rob McClure as Chaplin, Christiane Noll as Hannah Chaplin, Jenn Colella as columnist Hedda Hopper and Erin Mackey as Chaplin's fourth (and final) wife, Oona O'Neill.

Curtis' score strikes an effective balance between large ensemble numbers ("Just Another Day in Hollywood," "Life Can Be Like The Movies") and heartfelt solo moments for the principal performers including Noll ("Look At All The People"), Mackey ("What Only Love Can See"), and of course, McClure ("If I Left London," "Where Are All the People?" and a spot-on replication of Chaplin's 1972 Honorable Oscar speech). Other recording highlights feature Michael McCormick's hilarious take as film director Mack Sennett in "Sennett's Song," and Colella's Hedda Hopper putting Chaplin under the political microscope in "All Falls Down."

"Chaplin: The Musical," should easily join shows like "Fiddler on the Roof" and "The Most Happy Fella" as regional vehicles for a strong male musical frontman.
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on February 12, 2014
There are some really good numbers in this show, several that will get stuck in your head and have you humming them later. I wish I had seen the show to see how some of the numbers were staged, but sadly, the show did not last long.
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on June 3, 2013
Excellent vocals and production quality. It took me back to when I saw the show and even if I hadn't seen the production, this would be an outstanding CD to buy to give you a taste of how great the show was. I highly recommend this CD.
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on April 29, 2013
I saw this show before it closed in December, 2012. Although the score is by no means a classic it's entertaining and I look forward to future work by this composer.
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on April 24, 2013
Stories in musicals aren't always "terrific" . . . Chaplin has it all . . . wonderful, informative, and important story all tied together by terrific music and performances.
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