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Chris Grady: What's on your CD pile?

By • West End
Three years ago I had a big party - my retirement party from active service in musical theatre.  Sorry, everyone, I may not have been cured...

This month I reduce my hours at the Theatre Royal to pick up a contract with Stage Entertainment - my task being to get my head around a rather large catalogue of new musical theatre which has had, or will have, major productions in Europe, and to see with my colleagues in Holland where the shows might receive future licensed productions. I'm excited by this new opportunity.

(Readers - if you are involved with musical theatre presentation, producing or promotion across the world - then I'd love to make sure that I know where you are and what you are doing.)

Now it has to be a gentle process, and to start I have picked a few CDs from my collection to play, after 3 years of not listening to MT, and I thought I'd share my selection... just for fun, and because I hope I will get some serious comments containing CDs and works that I have missed in my 3 years focused on Suffolk and 19th century drama.

I have Ragtime playing at the moment, after seeing the Open Air Regents Park powerful re-working of the show last week. And then, exactly as they sit in the pile, I have:

- Johnny Barr - In Whatever Time We Have, because for me John was the first cabaret artist in Buxton, and then London, to believe that musical theatre could ring true in late night cabaret. He championed and shared wonderful writers from both sides of the Atlantic, and he introduced me to John Bucchino ("If I ever say I'm over you...").

- Audra McDonald - How Glory Goes, because she is extraordinary and she takes on unknown songs which become classics, and with that the chance that new works will hit major stages across the world.

- Working by Stephen Schwartz and many others, because it has one of my favourite slightly-flickering-torch songs. "It's An Art ...To Be A Fine Waitress". A song of celebration of, the "Three Steps Behind Club", and those who remain unnoticed and are often ignored.

- Nine by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston. In tribute to Vernon Mound and Anthoula Papadakis, who created one of the most memorable international productions of any work I have ever visited, in Sweden, with nine of the most powerful stars on the operatic and theatrical stage working together. Unforgettable. And because I've tried so many ways to get an email response from Mr Kopit about one of his plays and even with Mr Yeston's help I haven't got through... maybe this blog will help!

- Steel Pier by John Kander and Fred Ebb,  because I love the show and have been delighted by the number of drama schools that have found ways to bring this show to life, and because I once had a wonderful conversation with Messrs Kander and Ebb talking about cabaret and being asked to pass their good wishes back to Ms Dench as the best Sally Bowles they have ever seen - now that's quite a message to carry!

- Flanders and Swan - Complete Collection, because I love the bite of these extraordinary performers that I never saw, along with Tom Lehrer's two LPs. Together they offer intelligent and timeless material, and they always prick pomposity. Something "necessary" theatre always does.

So - that's a very long way of saying that I have started to get back into musical theatre, and will be blogging about my journey here, in Holland, and in discussions and work, wherever I may travel.

I have lots of catching up to do, and I look forward to doing it.


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