ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK - ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
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Falling trousers, star-crossed lovers, cross-dressing mobsters and a fabulous on-stage band are just some of what awaits at the funniest comedy/musical to cross the pond in decades. Directed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Nicholas Hytner, and 15 "skiffle" songs by Grant Olding performed by The Craze, this side-splitting show with all the great London actors arrives at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway on April 15, 2012 straight from a sold-out run in London's West End.
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It's a lively, engaging, rousing, inventive musical mix. The styles are clever and fresh and toe-tapping good. The lyrics and themes of the songs are clever double-entendres that reflect (but do not exactly mirror) themes of the show, which makes for fun, universally themed music that's a blast to listen to.
It's hard to describe the styles. Skiffle has the raw energy and invention of, say, the early Beatles in Berlin, before they made it big. The sound is addicting, and energetic. And although skiffle is known for being the music of the street, the extreme skill and polished professionalism of these fine musicians clearly shines through. So it's the best of both worlds: like the raw energy of a street performance, but with amazing tunes, clever lyrics, and the very best musicians.
Olding is a musical chameleon. Having collaborated with Hytner on several theater scores in the UK, he has created an wonderful recording based on the "skiffle" music of early 1960's England, a folk-based genre that began in America with Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, subsequently coming into popularity overseas when the Englishman Lonnie Donnegan became a star with cover versions of his American counterparts. The movement directly affected a quartet based in Liverpool, and is highly discernible in the early music of the Beatles.
Wanting a house band to provide live performance before, after, and during scene changes for the production, "The Craze" was created, and they provided the catchy hooks and lyrics of Olding's (all of which were strategically placed within the show, loosely based on Goldoni's "The Servant of Two Masters"), and were increasingly accompanied by the cast throughout the evening.
Fans of The Kinks' hits "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" will enjoy the homages "The Ballad of Ted and Calista" and "Strung Out Dolly." "My Old Man's a Gannet" could easily have been written by Guthrie (writer of "This Land Is Your Land"). Olding himself handles the lead vocals on the recording, with Phil James, Richard Coughlan and Benjamin Brooker ably encompassing these new tunes from an era that only older baby boomers may recall, but the score is both an effective calling card for future productions of the show, and an entertaining stand alone listen.
Unfortunately, Musicians' Union Local 802 was not as understanding as their sister union, and the composer and musicians which made the London score such a hit (and are marvelous on the OTHER 14 tracks on the CD) were NOT permitted to repeat their performances on this side of the Atlantic so the only album the show is likely to get will not be a Broadway Cast Album as well and customers in New York - if they can be persuaded to buy the CD will have to settle for an album performed by people (on all but one track) they did not see. If this does damage to the publicity and ticket sales for the Broadway production which in the long run could mean MORE employment for their members, 802 clearly doesn't give a damn. Given this attitude, is it any wonder a lot of Broadway audiences are NOT disturbed at the prospect of more pre-recorded orchestras in their theatres so long as the quality is kept up? 802 spends a lot of money claiming to protect the quality of the music in our theatres. They clearly don't mean it.
Once again, I wish I can watch it again, SOON!!!!!