""A Class Act" is a small musical with a lot of heart. The story of Edward Kleban, a prolific songwriter who is best known for writing the lyrics of " A Chorus Line", is told through his music. His trunk songs that he always wanted the world to hear. I will be seeing the show on Broadway in May. As one Amazon reviewer noted it is better on CD. This may be, however, I am looking forward to seeing it. Lonny Price is an actor who should be seen with more regularity. As Ed, he embodies the songwriter in spirit and voice. An excellent cast that includes Carolee Carmello, Jonathan Freeman, David Hibbard and Randy Graff are nothing short of marvelous. Ms Graff, as Sophie, Ed's lost love, has some very touching moments that she plays so well. This is one show that lives up to its name. It is truly "A Class Act.""
That he was.
Michael A. Benedetto | New York, NY USA | 02/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's remarkable to think that these are all "trunk" songs from unsuccessful Ed Kleban projects (and one excerpted from his "A Chorus Line") -- ordinarily when songs are taken from other sources and interpolated into a show, even extensive reworking can't hide the fact that they don't fit cleanly. These, though, fit very cleanly even though they haven't been revised very much at all. It's a piece of poetic justice; while Kleban couldn't get a break while he was alive, he effectively managed to musicalize his own life. He never saw "A Class Act", and yet it seems as though his spirit has guided and shaped the entire project.The disc pays powerful tribute to his talent, reaching peak after peak. Among the highest of these peaks: the instantly memorable "Better", the in-jokey "Charm Song", "Under Separate Cover", "Next Best Thing to Love", and the touching "Self Portrait" finale. Kleban wasn't as strong a composer as he was a lyricist (though it must be said that Stephen Sondheim, often accused of the same fault, reached his peak as a composer when he was much older than Kleban was at his death), but these are some delightful tunes.The cast (half of which abandoned the show before it reached Broadway) is happily the equal of the material, particularly the women: Randy Graff ("Les Miserables") is tough, sweet and funny as Ed's soulmate Sophie, Carolee Carmello ("Parade") is warm as Lucy, and Nancy Kathryn Anderson and Julia Murney ("The Wild Party") provide solid support. The men are given a bit less to work with, but Jonathan Freeman, Ray Wills and David Hibbard each have a couple of big laugh-out-loud moments.This kind of intimate chamber musical is seldom seen on Broadway, and seldom realized so brilliantly. Between that and the remarkable circumstances of its origin, it's something that even casual theatre fans should look into."
A deeply moving portrait of a songwriter
jjo | Chicago, Illinois United States | 01/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The music in this show consists of a group of unrelated and previously unrecorded songs written by Ed Kleban (the lyricist for Chorus Line, but really a songwriter). The writers have done a masterful job of combining these songs into a show that tells the story of Kleban's life. This is not a musical revue but a fully conceived musical. One can talk about the individual songs, and many of them are great. The ballad The Next Best Thing To Love is one of the best I've heard in a while. But what really make this work shine is the portrait the show paints of Kleban, a toubled man who had various breakdowns and loves, but for whom songwriting was the real love that made life worth living. You don't always like him, but that only makes him real. By the time you hear the beautiful and heartbreaking last song, Self Portrait, you have come to know and love Kleban through his music, which is exactly what he would have wanted. This album haunts me."
A Great Score - Couldn't Ask For More
Jeremy | 09/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow. I bought this musical for one reason: to hear "Better," which Stephen Sondheim said he wished he had written. My faith in Sondheim has not been shaken. That song, as well as all of the ones included on this CD, are wonderful. There is something very Sondheim-like in the music, the lyrics, and even Kleban's story (begrudgingly starting out as just a lyricist, moving on to writing music, too, having trouble getting his shows produced). The performers are wonderful, and the songs range from funny to extremely touching. I wouldn't say that Kleban's work equaled the quality of Sondheim's (I don't think anyone's does, so I may be biased), but anyone with half of Sondheim's talent (and Kleban possesses much more than this) is worth checking out.If you like Kleban's work, buy "A Chorus Line" (for which Kleban wrote the lyrics to Marvin Hamlisch's score) - the Broadway version, because this contains the entire "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen" montage, a hilarious and entirely true song about puberty and the teenage years, another very Sondheimesque piece."
Great CD from a great show
Catherine Skidmore | Matawan, NJ USA | 07/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Class Act was a terrific show - I loved how Lonny Price and Linda Klein built a show around Kleban's existing songs. It really worked well onstage. This CD is a super recording, and while it doesn't have "Don't Do It Again", which was added after the move to Broadway, it's still a fine record of Kleban's music and lyrics."