|Personnel: Kim Tabor, Kathleen Hacker, Leah Crane, Robin Scheevel (soprano); Stephen Enz, Doug Dilling, Jerry Hacker, Peter Nichols (tenor); John Helvering, Mark Gilgallon, Matthew Hume, Greg Scheevel (bass voice); Steve Potts (piano); Randy Melson (electric bass); Steve Hanna (drums).
|Ticking off one of the entries on her bucket list, Broadway Stories sees "The Voice" of contemporary Christian music, Sandi Patty, pay tribute to the show tunes which she used to perform before her glittering, 30-year career took off. Recorded with the 64-piece City of Prague Symphony Orchestra in the Czech Republic, it's a lush and sumptuous affair which allows the five-time Grammy Award-winner to prove her worth as a leading musical theater star, whether it be through her emotive rendition of Show Boat's "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," her playful take on the jazz standard "All of Me," or her melancholic piano-and-sax-led arrangement of A Little Night Music's "Send in the Clowns." Born and raised in Oklahoma, it was inevitable that a number from one of Rodgers & Hammerstein's most famous musicals would make an appearance, but although "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" joins the likes of Carousel's "You'll Never Walk Alone" and The Sound of Music medley ("My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Edelweiss"), on the list of predictable familiar selections, there are several less-obvious song choices which sets this apart from the plethora of similar Broadway-themed releases. Alongside pieces from lesser-known musicals like Lady, Be Good ("The Man I Love") and The Goldwyn Follies ("Our Love Is Here to Stay"), Patty also puts her own spin on several track associated with male performers, such as Fiddler On the Roof''s "If I Were a Rich Man," The Music Man's "Ya Got Trouble," and My Fair Lady's "Get Me to the Church on Time" in a well-worked medley entitled "A Doll Sings the Guys," and while Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" and the slightly obscure "I Just Found Out About Love" (both of which have never appeared in a musical), might technically be considered cheating, her powerful renditions might just inspire any directors listening to include them in their next production. Broadway Stories' concept may be nothing new, but its sweeping orchestral arrangements, diverse material, and Patty's warm vocals ensure that it's one of the classier musical theater-based releases of the year. ~ Jon O'Brien