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Sweet Smell of Success OBC

It's the dark moral world the characters inhabit. It's the whirligig jazz-inspired score. And it's Brian d'Arcy James every time he opens his mouth to sing. Yes, in Sweet Smell of Success, Marvin Hamlisch, Craig Carnelia and John Guare have channelled La Chiusa's The Wild Party!

No bad thing this, though unexpected from a composer I basically only know through A Chorus Line (a failing on my part). And, to be fair, it's not an entirely apt description... there are portions of the CD which struck me more as a mirror universe version of "One" than anything La Chiusa constructed. Ie, a bit brassier, a bit more mainstream showbiz.

John Lithgow (as the implausibly named JJ Hunsecker) falls in the "actors who sing" (barely) category, but the vocal requirements of the part are modest, and I'm sure seeing him perform the role on stage would have been electrifying.

Brian d'Arcy James and (the equally implausibly named) Jack Noseworthy acquit themselves very well.

I'm less certain about the two women. Kelli O'Hara's Susan strikes me as being in the wrong show... there's something about the score and the story that doesn't lend itself to her immature soprano singing style IMO. Stacey Logan's Rita in her one big number comes across like an idiot, by which I do mean mentally deficient... but who knows, maybe that was intentional.

Still, I don't want to sell this CD short which I enjoyed a lot. While I may quibble with some of the performances none of them detract from the clear momentum of the story and the accessibility and aptness of the music.

Hamlish and Carnelia also collaborated on Imaginary Friends, this time with Nora Ephron on book... which certainly implies (to me at least) a show with a lighter touch. I'll have to put that on my to-get list.

A moment of praise for a classy show.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 22, 2005 4:53 PM.

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