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Hit or Miss

While I’m on a musical theatre kick today… Last weekend I came across the Original Cast Recording of Blood Brothers with Barbara Dickson on LP for $2. For those of you not familiar with the show, it’s the story of twins parted at birth and the tragic outcome that occurs when they find out.

I know the score from the two widely available revival cast recordings (1, 2). The show has been criticized by some for being somewhat heavy-handed and melodramatically tragic.

The original cast recording is a revelation — the music is light and bouncy and performed by a cast that doesn’t seem too caught up in the darker, serious aspects of the show. The trade off is that the orchestrations and vocal arrangements aren’t as musically complex as in the later incarnations of the score (the vocalized overture in the Petula Clark recording is chilling, for example). Still, it’s fun to be able to hear how the show and the score developed over a 10 or 15 year period.

I wish more shows followed this path. Instead I can think of several recordings of tremendous original productions whose followup cast recordings pail in comparison due to reduction of cast sizes or reorchestrations for smaller pits (Stephen Sondheim’s Company and Merrily We Roll Along, for example).