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23 Reviews
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'giant' of a cast recording indeed...
First, I must admit a bias: There is no musical composer whose cast recordings I look forward to more than Michael John LaChiusa's. They're always much needed reminders of just how satisfying musical theater can be at its best. "Giant," LaChiusa's latest, is fantastic--one of his finest scores. He's had detractors in the past who've complained about his "esoteric" music...
Published 19 months ago by Steven Valenti

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a grand musical, but not that good.
I was disappointed in the score of this show, since I had heard so many good things about it. Not many memorable tunes in it. Although, it is Michael's most hummable score.
Published 10 months ago by S. Jones


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'giant' of a cast recording indeed..., June 7, 2013
This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
First, I must admit a bias: There is no musical composer whose cast recordings I look forward to more than Michael John LaChiusa's. They're always much needed reminders of just how satisfying musical theater can be at its best. "Giant," LaChiusa's latest, is fantastic--one of his finest scores. He's had detractors in the past who've complained about his "esoteric" music. I've never agreed with that, but I can agree that "Giant" contains some of his most immediately accessible music. This just might be the recording that gives naysayers an entry point to the rest of his canon.

Though LaChiusa is my favorite modern musical composer, I've had quibbles with some of the cast recordings of his shows. ("Bernarda Alba": Could be longer! "Queen of the Mist": Could use a larger orchestra!). But with its long running time, large orchestra, and uniformly strong cast, "Giant" is the "big" LaChiusa recording I have been waiting for since "The Wild Party." This is a Broadway level production (and please, somebody get this one there!).

Based on Edna Ferber's novel (also the source for the movie), "Giant" is a slice of mid twentieth century Americana, set on a cattle ranch in Texas during the oil industry boom. Bick (Brian D'Arcy James) is the head of Reata, the long-standing ranch. Leslie (Kate Baldwin) is his wife, who moves from Virginia into a life she's not completely suited to. They're joined by Bick's strident sister Luz (Michelle Pawk) and Vashti (Katie Thompson), a rancher from the family next door. Add in the ranch hand (and eventual oil tycoon) Rink (P.J. Griffith), Bick and Leslie's children and the Mexican ranch hands, and it's a wonder LaChiusa (and book writer Sybille Pearson) are able to keep the characters, plot, and themes so clear and tight through the songs (One of the signs of an intelligently crafted musical: even with just the songs, the plot and characterizations come through with ease.).

The sprawling plot and bevy of characters give LaChiusa a lot of opportunities to utilize a number of musical styles (some that he's mastered over the years), from folk songs, to jazz and boogie woogie, to country-inflected ballads, to his complex scene-songs with his trademark surprising melodies (all superbly orchestrated by Bruce Coughlin and Larry Hochman). I'd single out songs, but with a score this excellent, it seems beside the point: I was hooked by the end of the evocative "Aurelia Dolores" that kicks things off. Highly, highly recommended. A
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the lover of "small" musicals., June 7, 2013
By 
Steven L. (Massachusetts, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
The film version of "Giant" (1956) was an epic, cinematic classic featuring some of the best performances from the storied careers of Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean and Sal Mineo. The expansive tale of the Benedict family, based on the novel by Edna Ferber, has now been musicalized by composer Michael John LaChiusa ("Hello Again," "See What I Want to See," and most recently, "The Queen of the Mist") and librettist Sybille Pearson, and the "Giant" soundtrack is now available from Ghostlight Records.

Brian D'Arcy James ("Shrek") now assumes the cowboy hat worn by Hudson. As Jordan "Bick" Benedict, James takes us through two generations of life on Reata, his wide-ranging ranch in the heartland of Texas. With Benedict as our guide, we experience his meeting the city-girl, Leslie (Kate Baldwin, in the Taylor role), and his competition for both her affection and the ownership of Reata with Jett Rink (P.J. Griffith). "Bick" must also prove himself to his sister, Luz (Michelle Pawk), whose old-fashioned views of the west do not include the welcoming of a wife for her brother.

Act one centers on the adults in 1925, while act two focuses on the Benedict children and their peers. The union of Benedict and Leslie begets the courteous and conservative Jordy Jr. (Bobby Steggert) and the wild-child, Lil Luz (Mackenzie Mauzy). As a young adult, Jordy falls in love with a young Mexican girl (Natalie Cortez), forcing his parents to come to terms with the growing presence of Mexican immigrants in their state, causing the older characters to question their prejudice.

LaChiusa's score accurately supports the massive scope of the story, effectively combining sung-through sections with recitative and self-contained songs. James has established himself as a leading man on the stage, with a recognizable voice that exudes authority. Baldwin's sweet sound blends well with James' (especially on the romantic "Topsy Turvy" and the culminating "The Desert") and Pawk's brassiness is welcomed on "No Time For Surprises." Other standout performances come from Miguel Cervantes as Angel, who gives an inspired rendition on "Jump," and Griffith and Mauzy on their upbeat duet, "When to Bluff."

"Giant" is also now available for licensing, but it should only be attempted by larger, well-funded organizations that can do justice to the scale of the tale.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have CD, August 23, 2013
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This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
I saw this show in it's production at The Dallas Theater Center, and narrowly missed seeing it at The Public. Terrific show, terrific CD. It's my favorite score by LaChiusa. It's as grand and sweeping as the land it inhabits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Giant will be big, August 27, 2013
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This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
THe pre-Broadway concept album is good. The songs are fitted well into the classic storyline and the voices are all done very well. You can follow along with the songs easily enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent musical, August 22, 2013
This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
The music is beautiful, I hope it comes to Broadway. The cast is first rate and the songs will stay with you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I like to think that Sondheim and Kander and Herman and ..., July 6, 2014
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This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
I like to think that Sondheim and Kander and Herman and Flaherty and Menken sleep a little easier at night knowing that musical theater is great hands as long as Shaiman and Wittman and Sklar and Lopez and Lippa and Guettel - and especially La Chiusa - are at work. With "Giant", Mr. La Chiusa has added to an incredible list of incredible works. "Giant" is a masterpiece - period. It's a sweeping and unbelievably melodic piece of storytelling sung by some of the finest voices working in musical theater. The work of Brian d'Arcy James is especially magnificent. Buy this recording and try not to play it over and over again. I dare you. Happy happy listening!
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4.0 out of 5 stars More beautiful but not entirely successful work by LaChiusa., May 22, 2014
By 
Elkhart (Moscow, Russia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
LaChiusa is perhaps our most important Broadway composer, making his many near-misses all the more frustrating. This is a sprawling work that works hard to clarify its many characters and turns of plot. It has a number of musical high points, and makes for a good listen on a long car ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive new musical, March 27, 2014
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This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
There are some wonderful musical moments in this new musical. A grand Copland-esque scope inhabits much of the score to match the landscape in which it is set. Contrasting country and Hispanic infusions complement this in a range of impressive numbers. Fine orchestrations give the score appropriate backing and a fine cast of singers present this important new score in a major new achievement.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's a grand musical, but not that good., March 18, 2014
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This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
I was disappointed in the score of this show, since I had heard so many good things about it. Not many memorable tunes in it. Although, it is Michael's most hummable score.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, November 19, 2013
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This review is from: Giant (Audio CD)
Sadly, there's not a song that has a hummable, mummable melody. However, the soundtrack does have substantive songs that actually tell a story. Singing is good. Did not make me want to see the show, though.
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Giant
Giant by Giant (Audio CD - 2013)
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