Search - Jeanine Tesori, Brian Crawley :: Violet (1998 Original Off-Broadway Cast)

Violet (1998 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Jeanine Tesori, Brian Crawley
Violet (1998 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Genres: Country, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1

While Broadway as a mega-spectacle can be fun, sometimes big, loud shows can leave a spectator numb. There's no risk of that with Violet, an intimate piece that, in fact, never made it to the Great White Way. And it's just...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Jeanine Tesori, Brian Crawley
Title: Violet (1998 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Pony Proof Records
Release Date: 2/9/1999
Album Type: Cast Recording
Genres: Country, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Classic Country, Musicals
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 000747803728

While Broadway as a mega-spectacle can be fun, sometimes big, loud shows can leave a spectator numb. There's no risk of that with Violet, an intimate piece that, in fact, never made it to the Great White Way. And it's just as well, really, since the emotional impact of this unjustly underrated show was a lot more suited to New York's 145-seat Playwrights Horizons theater, where it had a too-short run in 1997. Composer Jeanine Tesori is often mentioned in the same breath as Michael John LaChiusa and Adam Guettel. While she shares with them a desire to dust off the musical theater, she's also more comfortable than they are with various pop vernaculars. In Violet, which tells the story of a scarred young woman who goes on a road trip through North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arkansas in the 1960s, Tesori used gospel, R&B, blues, and country, but the result is unmistakable musical theater and not a mish-mash of styles. Lauren Ward is spellbinding as the title character, and she later went on to be equally impressive in Sondheim's Saturday Night and the revival of 1776. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

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CD Reviews

Violet is my favorite musical...
Jessica M. Sher | NYC | 12/22/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"so naturally, I love this album. Produced by Playwrights Horizons in NYC, I saw Violet four times while I was working at the theatre. About the musical: Violet is a girl in her mid-20s whose face has been scarred by an axe blade. She travels from her home in North Carolina to visit a televangelist/preacher in Oklahoma who claims to be able to heal people. She meets a couple of Army guys along the way, and... This musical is about the healing of the spirit, sung in everything from gospel to bluegrass to the blues. Lauren Ward has the most beautiful voice. Her temperament and richness fit Violet perfectly. My mom's favorite is Michael McElroy as Flick conveys soul unheard of in "Let it Sing," and Robert Westenberg (Into the Woods, The Secret Garden, Sunday in the Park with George)is funny and touching as the preacher.This show ran off-Broadway for 6 weeks and has popped up in Seattle and Philadelphia recently. I you haven't seen this show, listening to this CD will make you feel like you're there."
Buy a ticket on this bus
R. Scott Denny | 03/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Some of the best things to say about this musical are what it doesn't do. It never gets maudlin. It never reaches for an easy cliché. It never stereotypes its characters, be they young idealistic country girls, Army soldiers, TV evangelists, or even streetwalkers. This is a musical written with confidence. It has confidence enough to mix gospel and blues with country and rock, and bring melody to even the most unlikely scenarios: a bus trip ("On My Way"), a trip to the candy stand ("M&Ms"), even a poker game ("Luck of the Draw"). It has confidence in its main character to give her all the idealism, irascibility, and flaws that make a real person fascinating. It has confidence enough in its audience to hold its best song, "Bring Me to Light," until the very end. But to keep that audience happy until then, it offers beautiful songs like "Lay Down Your Head" and "Raise Me Up," with incredible lyrics like "I could shine like a moonbeam / on the silk of a ball gown" (from "All to Pieces"). Sure, you can pretty much guess the ending before the bus even pulls out of Spruce Pine. But you'll stick around, because this is a funny, touching, uplifting, wonderful ride."
An usual musical -- surprising turns with every track
D. Fair | Baltimore, MD | 07/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like many reviewers, I am reviewing this after I had the sheer joy of performing it (I was Flick). Boy would I love to perform Flick again but I won't and you know why? Because this is one of those unfairly neglected gems that this so obscure and the mainstream musical theater audience really has no wind of it.

And I can understand why. Violet doesn't follow the popular musical theater formula. First off, it's based on a very serious and what some would call "dark" premise. It's about a woman in 1964 on her way to see a televangelist peacher so he can heal her of a terrible scar she received as a little girl. Second, Violet's music is glorious, but quite varied in style. One song will be a country ballad, the next, what sounds like Tina Turner should be singing, and the next, R&B, and the next, a soul gripping gospel number. That in itself may sway some listeners.

But let me tell you, the ending and THE MESSAGE that this musical sends is worth it all. It's so unusual in the the way it takes you this journey, that you become so compelled to feel for each of this characters.

To continue with it's premise, Violet meets along her way two friend soldiers: one black (Flick), one white (Monty). Violet and these soldiers learn to find affection in one another and an unusual love triangle forms as the soldiers fall for Violet (Monty openly, Flick secretly) where feelings are hurt and love is found. The audience is also unclear as in the beginning when the story seems understandable and innocent enough, the second act presents race and sex issues. However, the themes can be universally understood and appreciated.

Michael Elroy, Flick, is absolutely wonderful and perfect for the role. His hefty and sultry baritone has just a beautiful middle range and can do remarkable vocal feats as he flies to remarkably beautiful and sustained A's and B's, and one fantastic high falsetto Eb! Michael Park has the absolutely perfect country southern boy quality for Monty. His rendition of "You're Different" is so sentimental and poignant and just hits the spot. And his acting training is clearly evident. Lauren Ward stole the show and it sounds as if the role was written for her. I don't think she could be a show that fit her talents more perfectly. And what a great vehicle for her to learn her career on. She's a mezzo with a very healthy belt as well as a trained head voice all the way to a great F at the top of the staff.

The music is just beautiful and touching. "On My Way" is the central musical number as it ties up the themes so perfectly. The recording simply will not leave you bored as it is surprising with every track as new styles are infused and great acting compels you."