The exact phrasing of the title on this album says it all -- Anna Karenina: The Broadway Musical. It is undeniably a Broadway-packaged version of Tolstoy's novel. That a musical like this could be nominated for multiple Tony Awards tells you that there were slim pickings on Broadway in 1993. There are obvious reasons why it only ran to 46 performances. But in the early 2000s, as the cast album was making a strong comeback, it somehow seemed like a good idea to the composer, Dan Levine, to finally make a recording of it. He re-orchestrated the music for full orchestra, although it doesn't sound that much larger than a theater orchestra. Two of the original performers are featured here: Melissa Errico as Anna (originally playing Kitty on-stage) and Gregg Edelman as Levin. The performances by the latter and Kerry Butler, who plays Kitty, perfectly sum up the problem with this musical. It's too casual, too unsophisticated, and too predictable to successfully capture Tolstoy's story completely. Vronsky's song "We Were Dancing" should be a mazurka, not a run-of-the-mill waltz song. Levin's "That Will Serve Her Right" leaves the taste of a cheap knock-off of Tevye's "If I Were a Rich Man." The action of the drama is there, but not the drama itself with any true conviction, not in the lyrics or music or the actors' performances. It trivializes the seriousness of any of the personal, emotional conflicts in the novel, right from the beginning. The opening "Journey to Moscow" sets the tone with the overly obvious "is that all?" reaction of the ensemble to the death on the train tracks. This is the version of the classic novel for those very few people who both absolutely adore everything Broadway and aspire to greater literary pretension.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|Anna Karenina, musical play|