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A Class Act - A Musical About Musicals 2001 Original Cast

Cast Recording

4.0 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, March 6, 2001
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Product description

No Description Available.
Genre: Original Cast Recordings
Media Format: Compact Disk
Rating:
Release Date: 20-FEB-2001

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"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards" runs the famous observation by Kierkegaard, but in a sense it also applies to the making of this "musical about musicals," which draws on the life and work of Ed Kleban. Though already assured of a place in musical theater's pantheon for having written the lyrics to the pathbreaking A Chorus Line, Kleban was far more than a one-hit wonder. In fact he composed both music and lyrics for a variety of musicals that never got produced, leaving a trunk of songs behind unheard at his untimely death in 1987 at age 48 (just a few days off from his "favorite holiday," Valentine's Day). These are the basis for A Class Act, a show put together by Kleban's friend Linda Kline and Lonny Price (best known for the role of Charley Kringas in Merrily We Roll Along). Instead of a posthumous "tribute" simply piecing together unrelated songs willy-nilly, the concept here--first unveiled at the Manhattan Theatre Club before moving to Broadway in February 2001--is far more intriguing. It uses a flashback frame to retrace the high and low points of Kleban's personal and professional life, which is punctuated by several near-breakdowns (and a bona fide one, during college, which led to his epiphany that he was meant to spend his life as a songwriter). The show integrates songs from widely different projects into the narrative, their topics ranging from the tricks of the songwriting trade to divorce and self-scrutiny, as each number crystallizes a particular moment of insight. Kleban's craft, especially when experienced in this context, is imbued with a personal, quirky touch, and it's impressive: there's a Sondheim-like cleverness and poignancy to much of the word play (Sondheim himself reportedly has expressed open envy for "Better," which gives a lift to act 2's opening), an inventive use of conversational rhythms, and a natural flow to the melody that becomes genuinely memorable in songs like "Next Best Thing to Love" (a ballad for Kleban's platonic soul mate, Sophie, movingly performed by Randy Graff) and "Say Something Funny." Ronny Price brings a vulnerable yet likeable demeanor as the Kleban character, thereby offsetting the role's tendency to self-pity and kvetch. By the final summing up of "Self-Portrait," with Kleban's returned ghost surrounded by friends, the payoff feels not sentimental but earned. It's a thoughtful addition to what is after all an impressive line in musical theater--the "meta"-musical--but also a loving, specific portrait of a lost era of show biz in the making. --Thomas May

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Product details

  • Audio CD (March 6, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: March 6, 2001
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording
  • Label: Sony Music Canada Inc.
  • Run Time: 53 minutes
  • ASIN: B000058DWH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,621 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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April 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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September 6, 2010
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May 18, 2001
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