Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Stephen Bogardus, Mary-Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Mitch Leigh|
Man of La Mancha (2002 Broadway Revival Cast)
Genres: World Music, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Brian Stokes Mitchell belongs to a rarefied species: a male lead who can steal scenes from his female counterparts in a Broadway musical. As if his impossibly rich and evocative voice weren't enough, Mitchell is a charisma... more »
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Brian Stokes Mitchell belongs to a rarefied species: a male lead who can steal scenes from his female counterparts in a Broadway musical. As if his impossibly rich and evocative voice weren't enough, Mitchell is a charismatic actor who inhabits his roles with panache. After turns in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime, and Kiss Me, Kate, he is back in the popular 1965 show about Cervantes and his fictional alter ego, Don Quixote. The show has become a bit creaky over the years. The revival probably wouldn't have a chance without Mitchell, and he does turn in a spectacular performance. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's Aldonza feels a bit forced--compare the smooth way in which Mitchell's songs flow with her sometimes choppy delivery--but she also possesses a welcome old-timey quality, never more so than in "What Does He Want from Me?" As for "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)," well, Mitchell injects something that feels emotionally fresh into the chestnut. And that may be the greatest achievement of all. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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An album I wanted to like more than I did
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 01/19/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I would like to give this album five stars, but it neither does justice to the original nor to the current stage production, which I enjoyed. This is mainly because the CD is poorly directed, produced and recorded--as though it were done in haste. That is unfortunate, as the album does have some wonderful moments, and the stage production deserves a better legacy.First let me say that this is an album you don't want to listen to in headphones--especially really expensive ones--because the flaws in the recording will leap out at you. There is the piccolo in "I, Don Quixote" that is annoyingly shrill, and an obvious edit in one of the numbers (I'll leave it to the listener to discover which). Worst of all, there is distortion from clipping on all of the loud passages (especially during "The Impossible Dream") which is simply inexcusable. It is as if the engineers had no idea how to set the correct level for "belters" like BSM and the woman who so spectacularly opens the show with the Gypsy number.The poor directorial choices on the album are numerous. "Do it over" must not have been heard any time during the sessions. A dialogue coach was sorely needed, as several of the actors sound like they are reading the script for the first time (delivery ranges from merely stilted to downright amateruish). BSM's stentorian dialogue works well on stage, but is out of place here. And why does Aldonza sound like a modern New Yorker? Then there is the singing, which is all over the map. Ernie Sabella, a credible Sancho, takes some odd breaths when he belts "I'm Sancho, yes I'm Sancho." The Muleteers sound more like a chorus from "Naked Boys Singing" than lusty vagabonds. And Mark Jacoby, who has one of the most beautiful and distinct voices on Broadway, can't seem to hit the high notes in "I'm Only Thinking of Him." It is painful to hear him reaching for the "der" in the words "I understand" among some other gaffs in the number. This is unfortunate, as the women who accompany him turn in one of the album's best performances. Why wasn't his part done over? And the choral harmony at the end of "Golden Helmet" sounds almost improvised. A couple other performances on the album are better left unmentioned.Despite its faults, this album is not without its charms. Mastrantonio, whose singing voice can be uneven, gives a stirring and impassioned rendition of "Aldonza" that I have come to prefer to the original. Mitchell, whose glorious singing almost makes the distortion on the album forgivable, gives us a truly beautiful "Dulcinea." He also sings the hell out of "The Impossible Dream," breathing new fire into a song that had nearly gone stale. Other standouts include "Little Bird, Little Bird," and Jacoby's dirge during the final sequence. There are also some nice instrumental performances sprinkled throughout (especially the guitar).While I certainly wouldn't give this album five stars or even four, it does have moments that redeem it from garnering two stars. It's just a pity that it doesn't fully reflect the stage production, which I'd give a solid four stars."
Buy the Album - I was Not Disappointed
AJD | Chatham, NJ United States | 02/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Man of La Mancha this weekend. It took my breath away. From what I gather reading up on it after the fact, the production did not originally get good reviews. I don't know why. The musical I saw was wonderful -- moving, beautifully sung, and superbly acted. I had only seen Brian Stokes Mitchell on television. Of course, he has a rich voice; it may not be a "big" as some others (e.g. Richard Kiley), but what really impressed me was his delivery of the songs. The nuances he brought to each phrase moved me -- sometimes, close to tears. I could not wait to buy the album. In reference to remarks made by some previous raters, I will agree that Stokes' rendition on the album does not deliver quite the same emotion as what I saw at the Martin Beck Theater. However, had I not seen him live, I would not have noticed any deficiency. It just that he was so much better on stage. Perhaps, he took note of the critics' comments and improved as a result of them; not everyone can do that. More power to Stokes. I was amazed by Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio. She has an unusual voice for Broadway, and I think that is one of the reasons I liked her portrayal of Aldonza. Her acting was so good that I forgot who she was; she was Aldonza. Perfect. I did not know the songs that Aldonza sings as well as those by Don Quixote. So, I did not have any notion of what to expect. I can only say the her songs on the album did not disappoint me either. I say this is a great album for any fan of Man of La Mancha and the musical theater."
It Grows On You
AJD | 01/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This new Broadway Cast Recording of "Man of La Mancha" is actually a bit better than one might expect. Though the original score has always been somewhat overrated, it nevertheless provides enough pleasantries for the attuned listener. And while this recording may have its flaws, and they are by no means insignificant, it still offers a fresh take on an old warhorse of a show. To begin with, Brian Stokes Mitchell is really rather wonderful as Don Quixote. As any Broadway afficianado knows, Mitchell has the vocal chops to perform the role ably (he sings the living daylights out of "Impossible Dream"). The marvel here is that his phrasing is so right and in key with the character that the ghost of Richard Kiley never hovers. He makes the role his own. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio may be a bit of a mixed blessing, but she ultimately acquits herself surprisingly well. While her singing is a bit wobbly at times, the rough edges and harsher tones actually fit her character. Aldonza shouldn't be all sweetness and light, and Mastrantonio doesn't sing her that way. The surprise here is that her basic instrument is so supple and technically proficient that she is able to do justice with an extremely demanding role. Her rendition of "What Does He Want of Me" is exquisite. Unfortunately, its her line readings that do damage. Mastrantonio has a habit of interpreting her characters in extremes, and here her line readings have all the subtly of a brickbat. At times she seems to be projecting to the back row of the theatre across the street. As Sancho, Ernie Sabello is an adequate, conservative choice for the role, but the evident deterioration in his voice is a constant distraction, and he sometimes sounds like he got to Spain by way of Flatbush Avenue. The supporting performers are uniformly fine, and though the orchestrations are a bit thin and reedy at times, there's a liveliness to this recording that's hard to resist. Ultimately, the value of this recording will be based on whether or not you enjoyed the musical in the first place. Me? I've listened to the Original Cast Recording with Richard Kiley once. This new cast album hasn't left my CD player in two weeks. Says something, doesn't it?"