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See What I Wanna See (2005 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Michael John LaChiusa, Marc Kudisch, Idina Menzel
See What I Wanna See (2005 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (29) - Disc #1

Transposing short stories by Japan's modernist writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa to New York, Michael John LaChiusa has come up with an ambitious triptych (two main segments, "R Shomon" and "Gloryday," and a slight, rather unnece...  more »


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All Artists: Michael John LaChiusa, Marc Kudisch, Idina Menzel
Title: See What I Wanna See (2005 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Ghostlight
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 3/7/2006
Album Type: Cast Recording
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Style: Musicals
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 791558440829

Transposing short stories by Japan's modernist writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa to New York, Michael John LaChiusa has come up with an ambitious triptych (two main segments, "R Shomon" and "Gloryday," and a slight, rather unnecessary one, "Kesa & Morito"), at least half of which ranks among his best work. That half is the first segment, "R Shomon," which makes the best of its 1950s noir setting: A swinging song such as "The Thief's Statement/She Looked at Me" segues into the free-flowing title track with great ease, and LaChiusa summons wonderfully moody atmosphere. Unfortunately, the second act, "Gloryday," is less successful--it's less pastichey and more "difficult," but that doesn't automatically means it's better. Even stentorian Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked) can't do much with "Coffee," though the ever-dependable Mary Testa lifts "There Will Be a Miracle." LaChiusa is also lucky to have chameleonic Marc Kudisch (Chitty Chitty Bang, the revival of Assassins) on hand in both pieces. It's exciting to see someone try to challenge musical theater, but in this case the glass is only half full. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

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CD Reviews

Excellent cast recording-- a must have!
Steven Valenti | Cleveland, OH | 04/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This recording of "See What I Wanna See" offers more evidence that Michael John LaChiusa is the most compelling musical composer working today. No other composer comes up with scores that are as consistently daring, thought-provoking, and emotionally resonant. In fact, he's one of the few contemporary musical composers who actually treats musical theater as a serious art form. Instead of relying on the old-fashioned corniness and self-mockery found in so many of today's hit shows (some of them admittedly good), here is a writer who insists musicals are capable of telling complex human stories in a fresh and original way (and, I might add, in ways that are often surprisingly funny-- LaChiusa doesn't seem to get much credit for his sense of humor). For anyone interested in the possibilities of modern musical theater, this new score is certainly a must-have cd.

Of all LaChiusa's recordings to date, "See What I Wanna See" has the most potential to appeal to a larger audience, even those who typically find his musical approach "inaccessible." A commentary of sorts on the search for truth and perspective, "See What I Wanna See," is enjoyably complicated, as it contains two distinctly different (but related) acts that employ different musical styles-- something for everyone, in a way. For those seeking a musical with a sharp edge, they should be satisfied by the jazzy-noir stylings of the first half, "R. Shomon." The second half, "Gloryday," is more eclectic musically and contains a story of touching humanity. For anyone who just likes intelligent musicals, take the whole thing-- including the prologues to each act "Kesa" and "Morito," which are stunningly good opening numbers.

The cast is outstanding. Idina Menzel is superb, easily maneuvering through various emotions in a range of styles (the "Wicked" star's presence will also hopefully lure newcomers to LaChiusa). The rest of the cast-- Mary Testa, Aaroh Lohr, Marc Kudisch, and Henry Stram all turn in memorable performances on disc. They all feel ideally suited to LaChiusa's exciting and often thrillingly original music. This is the kind of cast recording that reminds you why you like musicals in the first place.
A musical that takes chances and rewards the listener for ta
Jennifer Koehne | St. Louis, MO USA | 04/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I ordered this CD off a site that sells mostly Broadway and off-Broadway soundtracks as well as Broadway's stars' solo albums. I came across the "ore-order" option, read the very brief synopsis, and was intrigued enough to pre-order it. Anyway, it's been a staple in my collection ever since. It took me a day or so to warm up to it. It's not "Millie" or "42nd St" with huge production-type songs. It's not "Rent" or "Brooklyn" or some of the newer, pop-ish shows. It falls into its own genre, or at least a genre I am completely unfamiliar with. However, that does not lessen the connection I feel to it. In fact, it made me want to listen closer to the undertones, melodies, play on words, and find the heart and essence of these peoples' lives. The booklet, along with the lyrics and moving music tell two beautiful stories that I think everyone can relate to in a way. It deals with truth, the perception of truth, and the idea that there may never be anything that is really true. While it evokes these thoughts and questions, the listener is by no means left without a purely entertaining experience. It just heightens the experience that much more. Intellects, musicians, musical lovers, or people who just love innovative approaches to the musical arts will enjoy this cd, I'm sure."
An extraordinary, vital work
Mr. T. Connor | UK | 03/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have been a great admirer of LaChiusa's work for several years now but always felt I was missing the final piece of the jigsaw. Intelligent lyrics, challenging music, outstanding dramatic craft - but I somehow didn't "get it".

Not so with 'See What I Wanna See'. Not only is this, to my ear, LaChiusa's finest work to date but one of the best pieces of the decade. Along with the seriously undervalued 'Caroline, or Change', this piece gives musical theatre credibility as a thought provoking and deeply affecting art form. Just as Sondheim's 'Assassins' invited us to consider the human frustration of not having your voice heard, so 'See What I Wanna See' explores what happens when we don't see - or don't want to see. In the process, to quote 'Lear', it helps us to "see better". The cynic might call this a pretentious subject matter but in the contemporary world it's a very valid and raw issue to unpack.

It's extraordinarily done by LaChiusa whose layered music (flawlessly orchestrated by Bruce Coughlin - so few musicians and yet such a thrillingly intricate and full theatrical sound)and penetrating lyrics have an overwhelming impact through admirable subtlety.

'Curiousity', for me, is the core of the piece along with the lyric "Your ears and your eyes/ got used to the lies/ but you're getting the truth today". That applies to us listeners too. Thank you Mr. LaChiusa for a work of such passion, emotion and intelligence that both affects deeply and forces us to think - the mark of involving, dynamic and urgent writing.

"I only told you the truth" the R Shomon characters claim. The key word in that sentence is "only". In the post 9/11 world its a n unsettling lyric. One of dozens of crucial moments that make this recording a must and 'See What I Wanna See' a modern musical landmark."