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Music Review

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From Broadway With Love
A Benefit Concert for Orlando

Performed by: Darren Criss, Chita Rivera, Norbert Leo Butz, Kelli O’Hara, Jessie Mueller, Wilson Cruz, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Carmen Cusack
Label: Broadway Records
Release Date: 23 December 2016

Broadway Records are certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with - if they weren’t already. Not only are they turning out quality releases at a rate I’ve never see before by an independent label, but have also managed to bag themselves a Grammy for their Broadway Revival Cast of The Color Purple. Such is their rate of release that I am struggling to keep up, so the next couple of reviews are actually already available. Hopefully this will serve as a timely reminder that some of you forgot to pick them up when they were released, and should head on over to right away!

You may remember that following the Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012, Van Dean and Broadway Records released the excellent From Broadway With Love (still one of my favourite listens - and indeed watch). I was pleased to see that they were to continue in this vein when the LGBT community in Orlando was the victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016. Their response, From Broadway With Love For Orlando, is again a CD and DVD/Blu-ray release, in support of the victims and community.

Recorded and filmed live on July 25, 2016 at the Disney Theatre at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts it features song, dance and special appearances from some of the biggest names on Broadway including Darren Criss (Glee), Chita Rivera (two-time Tony Award winner), Norbert Leo Butz (two-time Tony Award winner), Kelli O’Hara (Tony Award winner), Jessie Mueller (Tony Award winner, currently in Waitress), Wilson Cruz (Rent), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Tony Award winner), Carmen Cusack (Bright Star), Andrea McArdle (original Annie), Lilla Crawford (Annie), Priscilla Lopez (Tony Award winner), Lillias White (Tony Award winner), Liz Callaway (Miss Saigon), Josh Henry (Shuffle Along), Keala Settle (Waitress), Anika Larsen (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Justin Matthew Sargent (Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark), Carrie Manolakos (Mamma Mia!), LaRue Howard, Michelle Lindahl, Justin Lore, Ménage, VarieTease and the Orlando Voices United Choir, as well as SiriusXM Broadway hosts Seth Rudetsky and Christine Pedi. Michael J. Moritz, Jr. (Tony Award Nominee) served as Music Director. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied the performers.

You can’t help being touched by a recording like this - not only by the performances, but also by the cause, and the conviction by which this is supported. This is a great listen, and an even better watch, and there is much to like. The recording kicks off with the gospel great 'Take My Hand Precious Lord', and segues into Orlando Voices United Choir’s ‘Great Dream of Heaven’. The sound is incredible - and even more amazing when you remember that this is a one-hit live recording!

From there, we meet our host Seth Rudetsky (up to his usual standard) and a non-stop barrage of wonderful songs and stories. Seth says it’s an evening of joy and it certainly comes over in the recording. Standouts for me are a moving mashup of 'Over The Rainbow' and 'For Good' (just incredible) and the wonderful Liz Callaway singing the hit from Anastasia ‘Once Upon A December’. I also loved Carrie Manolakos’s 'The Wizard and I’ and a very funny Kelli O’Hara’s ‘They Don’t Let You In The Opera’.

The recording finishes off with the hit recorded by Broadway Records the week after the tragedy ‘What The World Needs Now’ - I think it’s safe to say we all need releases such as this in times where uncertainty and fear haunt the lives of many.


Ian Gude

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