ON THE RECORD: A Gentleman's Guide, Les Misérables, Billy Porter and More

By Steven Suskin
20 Apr 2014

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Also on the cast album pile is Murder for Two [Ghostlight], the two-character minimusical that premiered at Second Stage last July and is presently at New World Stages. The gimmick: One actor (Brett Ryback) investigates the murder, another (Jeff Blumenkranz) plays all the suspects and they both play the piano. Music and lyrics come from Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, and the show was directed by Scott Schwartz. (His father, that Wicked songwriter Stephen, provides a liner note. He likes it.) What you get can be described as zany and madcap; it is certainly an unconventional musical comedy. Murder for Two doesn't quite compare with Douglas J. Cohen's No Way to Treat a Lady, but then that 1987 Off-Broadway murder-mystery musical had four actors and an adeptly accomplished score.

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Not from Broadway but of note is the CD release of the 1977 musical comedy Privates on Parade [Stage Door Records]. This Royal Shakespeare Company production opened in Stratford and transferred to the Aldwych, winning both the Laurence Olivier and Ivor Novello Awards. Denis Quilley and Nigel Hawthorne starred in this fictional tale of an all-male troupe touring Singapore and Malaysia (the Song and Dance Unit South East Asia, they call it, or SADUSEA), based on the wartime adventures of playwright/librettist Peter Nichols. (Nichols remains best known for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg). The music is by Denis King.



Privates, with its cross-dressing hero, was controversial at the time and quite celebrated. It came to the Long Wharf in New Haven in 1979, with Jim Dale in the main role; was filmed in 1982, with Quilley and John Cleese; and reached New York in 1989, with Dale again playing the role at the Roundabout (back when it was on Union Square), and with future Tony winners Donna Murphy and Gregory Jbara in the cast. The show was revived in London by Michael Grandage at the Donmar Warehouse in 2001, and just recently returned to the West End as the first production of the Michael Grandage Company at the Noel Coward Theatre, starring Simon Russell Beale. And now, belatedly, the original RSC cast album has finally found its way to CD.

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