Erich Kunzel

Broadway Today: Broadway, 1993-2005

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Broadway Today: Broadway 1993-2005 is the last of six budget-priced compilations of cast recordings issued by Universal Music's Decca Broadway imprint, covering the six decades since the founding of the American Decca Records label. Broadway was booming in the period under consideration, with large audiences taking in a wide range of different types of musicals. Tony Award-winning shows included Passion, Sunset Boulevard, Titanic, Ragtime, Parade, The Producers, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Urinetown, Hairspray, and Avenue Q, none of which are represented on this album, largely because of licensing issues. But the producers seem to have made a deliberate decision to emphasize "jukebox musicals," the questionable form in which existing pop songs are shoehorned into a book musical, the most successful example being Mamma Mia! As a result, while the album does contain some good show tunes of the era, such as "Seasons of Love" from the Tony Award-winning Rent and "Popular" from Wicked, there's also a lot of music borrowed from the pop charts of the '70s (and, in the case of "Crazy," from the '60s Off-Broadway show Always...Patsy Cline). This is not unrepresentative of what could be heard on Broadway in the '90s and the first half of the 2000s, but it is hardly Broadway's best.

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