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Music Review

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A New Jane Austen Musical
Original Soundstage Recording


Music: Paul Gordon
Lyrics: Paul Gordon
Performed by: Kelli Barrett, Caitlin Brooke, Lauren "Coco" Cohn, Adam Daveline, Richert Easley, Timothy Gulan, Brian Herndon and Pamela Winslow Kashani
Label: Broadway Records
RRP: £12.99
Click here to buy -
Release Date: 25 January 2019

For the second of Broadway Records’ newest releases, I’m taking a listen to the Original Soundstage recording of Emma. "The What?", I hear you ask... because I did too. I’ve never seen an Original Soundstage recording for sale before. However, the answer is addressed in the excellent booklet that accompanies the recording. A "Soundstage Musical" is a musical filmed in a theater or on a soundstage specially built to be streamed worldwide. The show was shot without an audience, much like a movie, but all the actors sang “live” as they would for any stage production, creating something new — a hybrid between a stage show and a film.

Emma, a timeless love story from one of the most widely read writers of all time, is a musical that will entice modern audiences to fall in love again with one of Jane Austen’s most adored characters. Tony nominee Paul Gordon’s (Jane Eyre, Daddy Long Legs) critically acclaimed stage adaptation keeps the beautiful language of Austen intact. Based on Austen’s classic novel about youthful confidence and misconstrued romance, this musical has been given a mid-century modern aesthetic at the Westside Theatre, where it was filmed this past spring (2018). The cast features Kelli Barrett (Broadway’s Doctor Zhivago, Wicked) as the titular character, as well as Caitlin Brooke, Lauren "Coco" Cohn, Adam Daveline, Richert Easley, Timothy Gulan, Brian Herndon, Pamela Winslow Kashani, Dani Marcus, Don Richard, Sharon Rietkerk, and Will Reynolds.

I really did wonder what to expect from a recording of a musical of Emma, but set in the 1960s in Highbury, England. However, as with all of Gordon’s work, I needn’t have worried. From the off, this is a great piece, and a great recording. It really does have a different sound to it - like a mix between a live recording and a studio cast. There is a very natural sound to the performances, and it’s very easy to follow as Robbie Rozelle’s excellent booklet gives both full synopsis and lyrics.

Kelli Barrett is outstanding on the recording, and wants me want to see the filmed performance. 'Should We Ever Meet' is a beautiful song, and performed so, so well. I also liked some of the fun numbers, in particular 'Have a Piece of Cake', which really come over great on the recording. Proper musical theatre songs. But my award for the best song in the score is the beautiful title song. Both in it’s original form, and as reprise, it’s glorious, and extremely well performed by Gulan.

Another winner - a lovely listen.


Ian Gude