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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon June 15, 2007
I've been a fan of Jones and Schmidt's music since the original cast recording of THE FANTASTICKS came out in 1960. All of their scores for the theatre are wonderful and 110 IN THE SHADE is one of their very best. The original production of 110 was before I lived in New York, but I did see the City Opera revival in the 1990s with Karen Ziemba, which I liked a lot. But the new production is far and away more moving. In the theatre there was not a dry eye in the house at intermission or at the final curtain. To my surprise this new recording had the same effect on me. In a perfect world there would have been a bigger cast. (I think there are five, count `em, five townspeople.) The only place the new recording suffers in comparison to the original is in the choral numbers. These songs demand a bigger chorus. But to my surprise, the streamlined orchestrations work just fine. I always felt that the orchestrations on the original cast recording at times overwhelmed the songs, but I think these new Jonathan Tunick orchestrations really support and emphasize the gorgeous Harvey Schmidt melodies. There have been a few minor lyric changes that I found jarring at first simply because I'm so used to the original ones. I understand that these were made in order to accommodate Political Correctness and to make certain high vowels easier to sing. Fortunately there are only a few of them. There's a song included in this version that was not on the original recording, "Evening Star," sung by Starbuck. It has the same melody as the beginning of "Another Hot Day." I like the song because it adds depth to Starbuck's character. Alas, the overture is not included in this version. (The overture was left off the original vinyl LP because there wasn't room for it, but was included on the CD reissue.) The voices on this recording are for the most part excellent. McDonald, of course, is just terrific. The men's voices took some getting-used-to for me. Christopher Innvar has the right quiet manly presence on stage for the reclusive sheriff and that quality comes across on the recording. I just wish his sense of pitch were more certain in his first song. He hits the notes, but rather tentatively, I think. As Starbuck, Steve Kazee has the show's most difficult role. His interpretation is more offbeat than the others I've seen and it works. His Starbuck faces an uncertain future; he's not a superman who's going nowhere but up. The voice is a little quavery for my taste, but, I don't mind it as much now that I've gotten used to it. 110 IN THE SHADE is a musical, but the emotions are big enough for opera. This recording gets five stars from me because it's extraordinarily affecting on a deep, emotional level. It's gorgeous. I'd recommend it without any hesitation at all.
9 helpful votes
10 helpful votes
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