Marie Christine

Original Broadway Cast

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Marie Christine Review

by William Ruhlmann

The Greek myth of Medea has attracted dramatists throughout recorded history. The tragic story of the princess and sorceress who helped Jason steal the Golden Fleece, but responded to his infidelity by killing his lover and her own children, it most famously provided the source for Euripides' play in 431 B.C., but also was adapted by French playwright Pierre Corneille in 1635 (this version in turn made into an opera by Luigi Cherubini in 1797), Robinson Jeffers in 1947, and Jean Anouilh in 1953. In seeking to provide a vehicle for Broadway star Audra McDonald, composer Michael John LaChuisa returned to Medea and transferred the story to late 19th century New Orleans, turning Medea into Marie Christine L'Adrese, a cultured Creole who falls in love with a sea captain and follows him to his home in Chicago with the usual tragic results. Among the more prominent young Broadway composers of the 1990s, LaChuisa seems to be interested in creating a post-Sondheim musical theater that is a hybrid form somewhere between traditional musical comedy and opera. While musical, his shows rarely employ traditional song structures, though the settings of the lyrics make for more than just recitatives. His choice of subject matter here is hardly typical for a Broadway musical, but he and the show's investors seem to have banked on the notion that three-time Tony Award winner McDonald could be sufficiently compelling to overcome the forbidding plot and uncompromising score. Compelling she certainly was, onstage and on this cast album, but that wasn't enough to make Marie Christine a hit. Announced for a limited run (but with the producers doubtless hoping to extend), the show opened on December 2, 1999, and closed on schedule after five-and-a-half weeks on January 9, 2000. The cast album, released three months later, preserves an intense and striking work that moves inevitably toward its shocking conclusion. It is far from easy listening, but remains powerful, especially because of McDonald's committed performance. But since it makes no obeisance to the traditional pleasures of musical theater, the show doesn't seems likely to live beyond this recording and stands as a significant example of the rift between a generation of serious-minded young Broadway composers (typified by LaChuisa and Jason Robert Brown) who set little store by mere entertainment and a group of pop-oriented songsters (Frank Wildhorn, Elton John) who prize entertainment above all and who, thus far, have been winning the war for Broadway's future, at least as far as commercial success goes.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
Mary Bond Davis / Andrea Frierson / Audra McDonald / Jennifer Warren 03:15 Amazon
2
Darius de Haas / Audra McDonald / Vivian Reed 01:42 Amazon
3
Audra McDonald / Vivian Ree 01:44 Amazon
4 Audra McDonald 01:44 Amazon
5 Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 01:07 Amazon
6
Kimberly Jajuan / Audra McDonald 02:32 Amazon
7
Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 00:25 Amazon
8 Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 02:44 Amazon
9
Lynn Joy Matthews / Audra McDonald / Janet Metz 04:17 Amazon
10
Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 02:47 Amazon
11
Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 03:30 Amazon
12
Kimberly Jajuan / Audra McDonald 00:41 Amazon
13
Vivian Reed 02:40 Amazon
14
Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 02:52 Amazon
15
Andre Garner / M. Rosena Hill / Jim Weaver 01:22 Amazon
16
Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 02:53 Amazon
17
Mary Bond Davis / Andrea Frierson / Audra McDonald / Jennifer Warren 03:00 Amazon
18
Andre Garner / Darius de Haas / Lynn Joy Matthews / Audra McDonald / Jim Weaver 04:02 Amazon
19 Kim Huber / Janet Metz / Mary Testa 03:32 Amazon
20
Anthony Crivello / Mark Lotito / Michael McCormick / Janet Metz / Peter Samuel / Mary Testa 02:44 Amazon
21 Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 02:19 Amazon
22
Kim Huber / Janet Meta 01:38 Amazon
23 Anthony Crivello / Audra McDonald 02:53 Amazon
24
Audra McDonald / Mary Testa 03:12 Amazon
25
Audra McDonald 02:22 Amazon
26
Mark Lotito / Audra McDonald 01:07 Amazon
27 Michael McCormick / Audra McDonald 02:44 Amazon
28
Darius de Haas / Kimberly Jajuan / Vivian Reed 03:41 Amazon
29 Audra McDonald 02:03 Amazon
30 Audra McDonald 02:36 Amazon
31 Anthony Crivello 02:29 Amazon
32 Vivian Reed / Mary Testa 02:02 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick