Title: Finian's Rainbow
Artist: New Broadway Cast
Label: PS Classics
Format: Single CD
Case: Standard Jewel Case
Booklet: Full color booklet, with an essay, complete lyrics, credits and dozens of full color production photos.
On the Show and Its Stars: In my review, I wrote: "Finian's Rainbow [is] a decidedly old-school, old-fashioned show. Not that there is anything wrong with that, necessarily. But put a creaky old book (sooooo much exposition that things don't move forward until a full hour has gone by in an hour ten minute act one) together with community theatre level production values, and you get Broadway's first show downsized due to the economy, I'm guessing. I can't really speak to any tinkering done between the original book (by Yip Harburg), the film version (by Fred Saidy) and the book adaptation (by Arthur Perlman). But whatever they did or didn't do, the book still plays like like it is a 40's musical, and still comes across as a poor man's Rodgers and Hammerstein crossed with an even poorer man's Lil Abner (if that's possible). I'm sure its bold in your face-ness about bigotry caused quite a stir back in the day, balanced only by the magical element which could always have given the creative team an out if necessary. And in two ways, Finian's Rainbow even comes across as a timeless classic: the bigotry theme is certainly relevant considering a black man (to use the show's vernacular) is in the White House, while a veritable rainbow of citizens is still fighting for equal rights; and the whole idea of wealth through credit is particularly resonant given our current economic state. So there are enough bones here to build an interesting, relevant revival out of a mediocre show. Instead, mediocrity rules the day.
Likewise, you can't see the repetitive dancing, though the dance music is here in full length and include the ensemble making all the right noises as if they were actually performing. Interestingly, they have much more energy here and a few under the breath side-comments made are hilarious. Only the smarmy children are as smarmy without visual help as without. And, fortunately, with the production photos and a little imagination you can fuse together a "what might have been" lavish production in your head.
On the Recording and the Stand Out Songs: The recording is of first-rate quality. The sound mix sounds like you are standing with the actors. The orchestrations soumd more full and lush than they did in the theatre, much to Rob Berman's credit.
The same songs stand out here that did in the theatre, particularly "Old Devil Moon," which I play repeatedly. Jackson and Baldwin sing it with grace, passion, romance and a clarity that is thrilling. The dance numbers, as I mentioned, are actually fun to listen to, especially "That Great 'Come-and-Get-It' Day" and "Necessity." Unfortunately, regardless of the quality of the recording, Mr. Fitzgerald's "Something Sort of Grand-ish" gets old very quickly and isn't half as charming as it thinks it is.
Still, considering how much I didn't care for the production itself, the CD represents the very best of the show and preserves several very fine performances. I find myself pleasantly surprised that I have already played it dozens of times through which is easily more than twice what I thought I'd ever play it.