The Wild Party (2000 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Eartha Kitt, Mandy Patinkin & Toni Collette
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Excellent music, excellent characters, excellent theatre
This marvelous piece of theatre is probably an acquired taste. While filled with the jazzy Broadway sound of the '20s, the tunes (like the characters) are a little offbeat. Michael John LaChiusa has made the characters of Joseph Moncure March's epic poem "The Wild Party" sing beautifully in this epic musical. There is another musical version of March's poem by Andrew Lippa which has more entertainment value, though the quality of the characters are sometimes diminished by the outright sentimentality of the songs. What LaChiusa's might lack in "entertainment" it makes up for in the nitty-gritty of the characters. My feeling is that Lippa focuses more on the "Party" while LaChiusa focuses on the "Wild." The performances (Broadway royalty like Mandy Patinkin, Eartha Kitt, Norm Lewis, Marc Kudisch, Sally Murphy) are all top-notch. The constant music and noise of the party gives even the quiet moments an unsettling feel. LaChiusa is a brilliant composer, and this is a brilliant score.
Neither here nor there.
This is a fine show. Mandy Patinkin is good. The story line is fantastic. If you want to enjoy the real The Wild Party... find the Andrew Lippa version. It is one of the most amazing musical theatre pieces out there. This one doesn't capture the intensity of the emotion or desperation in the story line.
Gets better with age.
I'm a musical theatre fanatic who like many of the reviewers here initially heard the Lippa composed version of this show and loved it. His music is catchy, fun, dark and quite incredible. This recording, however, is of the LaChuisa version, and I feel it gets a lot of unjust panning. Unlike Lippa's version which can be accessed almost immediately, this show takes a long time for its beauty to really sink in. I had a recording of this show for about a year and a half before I was finally able to begin to like it, and now I enjoy both recordings about equally. In my opinion, this applies to nearly every show that LaChuisa has written which I have heard. His music is very complex and can take a long time to appreciate, but once you do it is well-worth the wait. Also take into consideration that a lot can be lost in the staging. Every time I listen to "After Midnight Dies" I think of new ways that it could be presented to an audience and a little thrill runs down my spine. "Lowdown Down" is another gem as is "People Like Us" and "Breezin' Through Another Day". Toni Collette's performance on this recording is nothing short of incredible, and if you give it a chance, you'll notice that there are quite a few other beautiful voices worth the time to listen to.
Born: January 17, 1927 in Columbia, SC
Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s