Our Favorite Original Cast Albums to Listen to During Quarantine
Since we’ve haven’t been able to go to the theater in over four months, we’ve been trying to find ways to stay in touch with the stage any way we can. We’ve watched movie musicals. Streamed our favorite theater productions. Kept Hamilton on repeat.And most times, that’s by listening to our favorite cast recordings! Whether we’re waving through a window or staying SIX feet apart, we always make sure to have our showtunes playing.
From rediscovering old favorites to exploring new recordings (thank you Spotify algorithm!), here are some of the TodayTix staff’s favorite albums to listen to while social distancing (or really any time). What have you been listening to on repeat?
This cast album has helped me with my & Juliet withdrawals from not being able to see the show! “Everybody” is my must-repeat track as I’m a boy band girl and it takes me back to one of my favourite parts of the show!
A Strange Loop – Original Cast Recording
Totally obsessed with this recording and Michael R. Jackson’s show. So much to enjoy, with standout tunes like “Inner White Girl” and “Periodically,” it is funny and touching, brilliant and raw. Larry Owens is phenomenal as Usher (both vocally and comically), and it really whets the appetite for when this Pulitzer-Prize winning show hopefully finds its way to Broadway and beyond!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Even though it’s yet to be produced in the United States, the West End cast recording of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is an awesome introduction for anyone unfamiliar with this catchy, colorful, and touching original musical. It’s composed by Dan Gillespie Sells, who is best known as the lead vocalist and frontman for the band The Feeling, and the show has a fantastic score that mixes pop and musical theater while telling a beautiful story about a teen boy who wants to be a drag queen.
[title of show]
I’ve been all about nostalgia in quarantine, and [title of show] is one of the first shows I totally fangirled over so I’ve been revisiting its comforting and inspirational message in this time. There’s something so niche and nerdy about this show, which is literally about a musical writing team writing a musical about writing a musical. But there’s also a larger message about being a part of a community and a city and embracing the ephemeral and lasting nature of Broadway. In this time when we’re all missing theater so much, I find myself sobbing at songs like “A Part of It All” and a “Way Back to Then,” longing to be back at the theater. Oh and if you need quarantine inspiration/kick in the pants, turn up “Die Vampire, Die!”
Mame showed up on my Spotify recommendations (it knows me too well) and I was instantly hooked! If you’re a fan of Jerry Herman, you’ll be able to spot the nuances of his work throughout. The lead song “Mame” is incredibly similar to “Hello, Dolly!” in its theme, orchestrations, and lyrics. Speaking of orchestrations, there are some very similar motifs throughout that remind me of The Producers (which is interesting because Mel Brooks asked Jerry Herman to write the music for The Producers, however Jerry declined….or did he??) Would highly recommend. Also, Angela Lansbury. Enough said.
Cory, Employee Experience
What I love most about listening to this musical comedy is that it continues to make me laugh out loud EVERY SINGLE TIME and reminds me to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” I am also a HUGE Tim Curry fan, and he originated the role both on Broadway and in the West End. FUN FACT: A stamp was issued in Spamalot’s honor by the Royal Mail in 2011.
What can I say about SIX? It’s short, it’s peppy, and it’s funny, which is exactly what I need right now. In quarantine, I just want something that keeps me happy and laughing and the music by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss does this by marrying pop music and history. I also studied music, so for me, it’s all about the little hidden grace notes throughout this cast album. The use of Greensleeves as a recurring motif in “Ex-Wives” as Henry was said to have written it (did he though?) makes me cackle. I love how each wife gets a distinct sound that is entirely theirs and does a great bit to form the character. I’ve never seen the show but I can “see” it because of the hidden details in each song — from the German pop inflected “Haus of Holbein” to the Latin-inspired “No Way,” the music does a lot of work to tell you who the characters are. If you need a moment of laughter and fun in this world, SIX is it (and also probably my first show I see when I can!).
One of the things that’s struck me about quarantine (I know I’m not the only one!) is how much more dependent we’ve become on the technological devices in our lives. These objects that were once an option for accessing human connection suddenly became the only option, forcing me to wonder what all this stuff is doing to our brains. Fun!!!! This question is at the core of Octet, the new Dave Malloy musical about tech addiction that premiered at Signature Theatre last summer. The a cappella score is musically stunning and chaotic and insane and truly pushes the boundaries of what musical theater sounds like and feels like. It’s definitely pretty dense at times but, powered by just eight voices and no instruments, it never loses sight of its deeply human core. The irony is not lost on me when I say I am addicted to this cast recording (sad). I do occasionally worry that I’m one listen away from going full Devil Wears Prada and launching my phone into a fountain. Could be fun!
Company (2018 London Cast Recording)
Phone rings, door chimes, in comes quarantine! There’s not much company to be had these days, so listening non-stop to this sublime album has kept me from officially becoming one of those good and crazy people. From the moment I saw this gender-swapped production in London, I knew I would never stop thinking about it until the moment I ceased to be a sentient being, and turns out, I was right! It’s all I think about, especially during quarantine! Take a listen, get ready to cry weird tears at weird moments, and remember: when in doubt, just make your lead male role a woman.
To be honest, when I looked through my Spotify to see what albums I’ve been listening to, I felt a bit “blah” when I saw Waitress was the winner. Not because I think the show’s “blah” but because I think literally the opposite. I saw it eight times on Broadway, was at the last performance, and have spent hundreds of hours listening to the album. So like, why do I need to be listening to it again? We get it, I like the show; why aren’t I using this time to try something new? I guess what I realized though, is that during this weird time in the world — I need something that feels comfortable and familiar. Waitress is characters I love, it’s songs I can sing from beginning to end, and it’s a story that makes me feel hope for humans. And those are three things that make me feel better and anything but “blah.”
Legally Blonde: The Musical
This is really hard for me to admit as an adult theater professional, but here we go. When I was 14 years old, I was a Legally Blonde stan. I was…obsessed. We’re talking crying at the stage door meeting Laura Bell Bundy and Christin Borle crazy. While I (somewhat) grew out of that teenage craze (the signed poster isn’t prominently displayed over my bed any more), one thing hasn’t changed — and it’s my love for this soundtrack. Especially during quarantine, where we all need a little pick-me-up, you literally cannot find a more joyous album. Seriously, there have been studies that show you can’t listen to “What You Want” without smiling (don’t fact check this.) Also, in quarantine, I’ve realized just how much I took going to the theater for granted. Listening to Legally Blonde transforms me into that 14-year-old who loves theater so much she could explode, and reminds me how much I miss the magic of Broadway.
La Cage Aux Folles
One of my favourite songs ever is “The Best of Times,” which is not something we have recently been living through. This song has become a philosophy of life for me, belting this out along with “I Am What I Am” is enough to get me through anything! If I am in a more sedate mood then the heartwarming “Look Over There” is the perfect choice.
It started with the heartwarming cast reunion on “Some Good News,” grew stronger with the announcement of Hamilfilm on Disney+ and has returned with renewed obsession since the July 3 release. It’s an entirely new Hamilton phase where I appreciate the show for the good mems of live theater and now view the piece through the lens of current affairs. It’s probably more relevant than ever, and I love that it’s giving people a language by which to begin conversations around race, immigration, and politics all around the world.
Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical
Say what you like about the quality of this show, the soundtrack is pure rock heaven! I can’t count how many times I imagine myself running around the stage of the Dominion living my best rock’n’roll princess life in my black Docs when I listen to this album. Please everyone keep your fingers crossed for karaoke at the next staff social where I’m sure myself and Michelle Breen will be more than happy to give you a full nine-minute rendition of the title track!
I am OBSESSED with Anais Mitchell’s orchestrations which queer the typical MT style by incorporating New Orleans jazz, folk and pop music. It’s fascinating considering there was the concept album and off-Broadway version previously which are well worth a listen to! I watched the show twice in London which was incredible ;especially Amber Gray whom I’d previously seen in Great Comet — (her tone?!) The themes really resonate including this lyric, ‘Spring will come again.’ With everything that’s been going on at the moment – this has provided me with all the feels and has injected a bit of positivity into my working from home set up!