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Death Takes a Holiday (Original Off-Broadway Cast) Cast Recording

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, October 11, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Two-time Tony Award-winner Maury Yeston (Nine: The Musical, Titanic) unveils his next great score with DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY, which The New York Times hailed as 'one lush, soaring number after another ... a gorgeously sung, melody-rich score.' Other critics concurred: Bloomberg News called it 'one of the most beautifully written and sung scores [theatregoers have] heard in a long time'; Variety said the 'entrancing' score 'hits splendid heights'; and NY1 raved, 'Yeston has written an exquisitely lush melodic score that demands extraordinary voices, which this production has in spades.' Based on the beloved Italian play that thrilled Broadway audiences in the 1920s and 30s (and became an acclaimed 1934 film starring Fredric March), this enchanting story about the power of love to change, inspire and sustain us was adapted by Tony Award-winning librettists Peter Stone (1776) and Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and directed by Tony Award-winner Doug Hughes (Doubt), in a production 'both elegant and comedic, serious in theme yet laced with witty jokes' (Associated Press). Performed by an illustrious cast headed by Kevin Earley, Jill Paice, Matt Cavenaugh, Simon Jones, Rebecca Luker and Michael Siberry, Maury Yeston's sumptuous score will excite and delight listeners on this original off-Broadway cast recording.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 11, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording
  • Label: P.S. Classics
  • ASIN: B005HDYWD6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,015 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I didn't get to see this one, which is perhaps just as well. The reviews were decidedly "mixed" -But this is one of those rare cast recordings that preserves what was best about a show, and makes listeners wonder how it could ever have been anything but a bona fide hit. This score is simply beautiful. Absolutely wonderful! And it's extremely well sung, too. Most of the time these days I go with digital downloads (where am I going to put CD number 5,271?) but this is one where you want the whole shebang. As always, PS Classics has provided a physical package filled with liner notes, complete lyrics, and many, many full-color pictures. The sound is crystal clear, and the balance between singers and orchestra is perfect. Maury Yeston fans will love this, and those of you who aren't familiar with his music will be racing out to buy more after listening to this beautiful recording.
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I was privileged enough to see "Death Takes a Holiday" twice during its limited run. The lyrics and music are utterly gorgeous, and the cast's voices are perfectly suited to bring them to life. This lovely musical will linger in your heart and mind long after you've turned off your cd player.
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Format: Audio CD
I saw the production -- in fact was one of the few to see Julian Ovenden (amazing) before his voice went. It was one of those shows where you sat there at the end thinking "it doesnt work, but it's so very fixable -- can't they go back and start again?" The biggest problem, for me, was the jokiness of the book, which didn't gel with the mystery of the material. In particular, the concept of the character of Death, played almost as a charming naif, really didn't work for me. Couldn't for the life of me see why Grazia would fall so rapturously in love with such an oaf. Grazia too, was minus shading. Entirely the fault of the conceptualization, not the actors. Yes, the silky, dangerous death is a cliche, but the show was missing that very danger. The music standing alone solves a lot of the problems, and in a way is evocative of the show that might have been. I've listened to it much more than I thought I would. Some of the lyrics are basic in their rhymes, but the music is overall quite lovely, soaring and well sung. Love the opening number and some of the duets in particular. And death, without the baggage of the personality foisted upon him, comes, dare I say it, to life.
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Format: Audio CD
Maury Yeston has frequently sailed under the radar of Broadway composers / lyricists. A respected body of work very familiar to members of the national theater community ("Titanic," "Nine," "Grand Hotel"), Yeston continues to create scores that are lush and listenable, like a weekend afternoon spent in the sun on a lounge chair. His most recent project is the musicalization of Albert Casella's 1924 Italian play, "Death Takes a Holiday."

Yeston originally came up with the idea with Peter Stone ("1776") in 1997. Unfortunately, Stone's death in 2003 put the project on hold until Thomas Meehan ("Annie," "The Producers") stepped in to finished this musical telling of Death (effectively portrayed by Kevin Earley, whose B'way credits include "Thoroughly Modern Millie," and the recent "Tale of Two Cities") taking on a human form for 48 hours in order to come to Earth to discover why humans fear him. He proceeds to fall in love with the gorgeous, young Grazia (Jill Paice), and must decide whether or not to bring her back with him.

Yeston's score give feature songs to many of the cast without infringing on the leads' performances. Rebecca Luker ("Phantom of the Opera," Yeston's "Nine" revival with Antonio Banderas, the 1998 revival of "The Sound of Music"), Matt Cavenaugh ("Movin Out," "West Side Story"), Michael Siberry (Luker's von Trapp in "The Sound of Music"), and newcomer Alexandra Socha ("Spring Awakening") all have opportunities to tell their characters' tales on the recording, but the show clearly belongs to Earley and he takes full advantage of his first lead role on a cast recording.

The show was produced this past summer at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and is released on PSClassics. The musical should enjoy a healthy life in regional theaters, particular those venues that specialize in Rodgers and Hammerstein pieces or have produced either Yeston's "Titanic" or Adam Guettel's "The Light in the Piazza."
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As others have commented, this musical has a luscious, lyrical score. Almost every song stands on its own merits, yet the overall effect is almost magical, and at times, very moving. I did not see the show on stage, so my review is only of the cast recording. However, this is one of Yeston's best scores, and that is (to me) saying a lot.
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It is so nice to discover a musical/operetta so well done. This is an extraordinary 'story'..."Death" , an individual responsible for collecting the souls of the dear departed, and having done so with 'professionalism' ( forget sympathy for the abrupt ending of a bright life, or for the berieved...just do your job')..falls in love with the sould to be collected, 'prays' in song for a chance to experience what life is like as a mortal human for just this once'. And of course, suddenly understands what all these sensual experiences bring to the fore... the thrill and sheer joy of life, no matter how problematic it is.

A lovely and timeless libretto/concept for song...and the players do this all so well-thanks to being surrounded by contributors to this work of art who drip with talent. Music loveres all over the world are so hungry for the emotional and sensual exuberance that music lends to the human condition. Many of us would so like to see more endeavors/productions like this. We have a wealth of music to explore in the operas, and operettas of previous generations, but we wonder, why not an opera for the 'living', for us living in trying times today?
All that is needed now is for this to be staged again, but with brilliant direction, set, gifted conductor, art direction, and artists with cameras and sound technology to capture this elegiac and ephemeral score. Here is one for your collection you lovers of music and works of art like this, fleshed out with three dimensional characters.
I search for them, and must say in closing, how pleased I am to have found the London production of "Oklahoma". One might suppose this old musical could not have much breath of life breathed into it-but you'd be wrong.
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Death Takes a Holiday (Original Off-Broadway Cast)
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