Top positive review
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There's plenty of heart to go around!
on 4 July 2014
Idina Menzel is one of Broadway’s greatest stars, and a personal favourite of mine. Whether you know her from Rent, Wicked, Glee or Frozen, she is one of those performers who draw you in with their power. So when I heard that she would return to Broadway to star in another original show, I was beyond excited. My excitement only grew when I heard this new show was created by the same people behind Next To Normal, and that Anthony Rapp would once again share the stage with Miss Menzel.
I have not seen the actual show, and will not be able to, as I live in Europe. Instead, I sat down with the cast recording and the booklet. The booklet is essential reading, as the story splits into two, and you have to follow two different storylines. You cannot just listen to the songs and expect to understand the story. As such, I listened to one song after the other while constantly returning to the summary in the booklet. I recommend using this approach for your first listen, because it is easy to get lost in the two stories.
The story is centered around Elizabeth, who is starting her life over. Her friends suggest that a new start warrants a new name. One friend suggests Beth, the other Liz. From there, a simple decision of whether to follow her friend Lucas or stay with her friend Kate, splits the story into two: Beth goes with Lucas, while Liz stays with Kate. The same people appear in each story, but tiny events lead different things to happen.
Personally, I like the concept and how it unfolds, and I absolutely adore the music. After that first listen where all my attention went to figuring out when Beth is the one singing, as opposed to Liz, and when the Lucas in Beth’s story is singing, as opposed to the Lucas in Liz’s story – when all of those things were settled in my mind, I couldn’t stop replaying the tunes. Over and over again. It’s been a month since the release, and I still can’t stop playing it, humming it and thinking about it. Personal favourites include “What If?”, “Ain’t No Man Manhattan”, “No More Wasted Time”, “Some Other Me”, “Best Worst Mistake”, “I Hate You”, “You Learn To Live Without”, “Love While You Can”, and “Always Starting Over”. Whether you focus on Liz & Josh, Beth & Lucas, Lucas & David, or Kate & Anne, there’s plenty of heart to go around. And heartbreak for that matter. I smiled, laughed, and cried while listening, and the beautiful lyrics truly makes you think. Everything is done with both brains and heart.
I approached this musical because of my love for Next To Normal and Idina Menzel, and then became mesmerized with the story, the music, and the performances that touch you deeply even if you, like me, haven’t seen the show performed. So whether you are considering this recording for the same reasons I did, or simply because you are a fan of musicals and have heard about this new original show, I urge you not to hesitate – go and buy it immediately! You won’t be sorry.