Original cast recordings are only one way to hear your favorite Broadway stars over and over again. Both established stars and up-and-comers also record albums of their favorite songs from the stage, classic standards as well as contemporary hits. Here are five you should add to the rotation.
Billy’s Back on Broadway (Concord Records)
Porter is a Broadway veteran of such shows as Miss Saigon, Smoke Joe’s Café, Grease, and Five Guys Named Moe, but he burst onto the national scene last year by winning a Tony Award as the fabulous drag performer Lola in Kinky Boots. His third CD, which will be released on April 15, coincides with his first anniversary in Boots. Selections include such favorite show tunes as “Luck Be a Lady” from Guys and Dolls, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl, and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy. There’s also a duet with Boots’ composer-lyricist Cyndi Lauper. They perform the medley of “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Get Happy” made famous by Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand.
Stories…in NYC: Live from 54 Below (Broadway Records)
TV viewers may know her from recurring roles on Cheers, Frasier, and The Good Wife, but Bebe Neuwirth has always been a Broadway baby. She is currently playing Mama Morton in the long-running revival of Chicago through March 9 (she previously played both Roxie and Velma at different stages of the production). This CD captures her live performance at Manhattan hotspot 54 Below, telling song-stories such as Kurt Weill’s “Surabaya Johnny,” Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano,” and Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles” as well as some beloved show tunes. Also included are Neuwirth’s observations on why these songs are important to her.
Beautiful Dreamer (Sh-K-Boom Records)
Donna Vivino made her Broadway debut at age eight as Young Cosette in the original production of Les Miserables. She has since appeared in Saturday Night Fever, Hairspray and Wicked. In this recording she sings 13 selections which hold a personal connection for her and are all related to dreams. Her solo from Les Miz, “Castle on a Cloud,” maintains a child-like sweetness, but is not so innocent. Other highlights include unusual versions of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and the Carpenters hit “Rainy Days and Mondays.” The artist is accompanied by a world-class jazz quartet led by her father, Jerry Vivino, who plays in Conan O’Brien’s house band.
The Radio in My Head: Live at 54 Below (Broadway Records)
Aaron Tveit made a splash at last year’s Oscars with a brief recreation of his role in the film version of Les Miserables and he’s made a hit with TV audiences with roles on Gossip Girl and Graceland, but he had already proven his vocal and dramatic chops with stage turns in Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can. This recording of his live show at 54 Below further cements his reputation as one of Broadway’s rising young stars. The selections range from songs from his shows to Bruno Mars to show tunes such as “If I Loved You.”
In Constant Search for the Right Kind of Attention: Live at 54 Below (Broadway Records)
A Tony winner for Gypsy (she also played Baroness Schraeder in NBC’s live showing of The Sound of Music), Benanti combines humor and elegance in this one-hour set from 54 Below. She runs the gamut from Broadway (“On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady) to pop songs by Joni Mitchell and Harry Chapin to songs from her shows including the hilarious “Model Behavior” from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.