Gilles Chiasson, the Broadway actor-singer who was an original cast member of Rent — and is also a songwriter — released an independent album, "Slow Down," featuring his songs and musical theatre tunes.
The 13-track disc, flavored with acoustic guitar, harmonica, cello and violin, includes "Why" from Rent creator Jonathan Larson's musical, tick, tick....BOOM!; "My Romance" by Rodgers and Hart; "Soon It's Gonna Rain" by Jones and Schmidt, from The Fantasticks; "Sarah," from Civil War by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy, which Chiasson sang on Broadway; "All the Things You Are" by Kern and Hammerstein; "Open Road" (a cut song from Rent) and Stephen Schwartz's "Beautiful City" from the film, "Godspell." Also heard is a country-waltz revision of "Open Arms," by Jonathan Cain and Stephen Perry of Journey.
The CD also has original songs by Chiasson (who sings and plays acoustic guitar), including "Waiting for a Savior," from a rock-infused musical play he wrote called Chrysalis, which had its world premiere in July 2001 at the Adirondack Theatre Festival. Muskegon, MI, native Chiasson wrote book, music and lyrics for a through-sung domestic musical about a dysfunctional family reuniting at Christmas. A seven-show demo was made and Chiasson is shopping the show around, he told Playbill On-Line.
The disc includes Chiasson's "My Love Songs to You Are Everywhere," written for his wedding ceremony (his wife, the actress Sherri Parker Lee, also sings on the track); Chiasson and McGovern's "Quietly," about lost love; and "Island in the City," a reggae-driven comic tune based on his visit to the Sheep's Meadow in Central Park. Chiasson's title tune was "inspired by a Winnie-the-Pooh Day calendar, Taoism and a short spell of unemployment."
The 34-year-old actor has been writing songs since he was a teenager. He graduated from the University of Michigan and eventually settled in New York City. Guest vocalists on "Slow Down" include Matt Bogart, Roy Chicas, Clarke Thorell and wife Sherri Parker Lee. Christopher McGovern (composer of the musical, Lizzie Borden) produced "Slow Down," which is sold online at www.gilleschiasson.com and specialty shops in New York City.
Among his other roles, Chiasson played Armand St. Just in the original Broadway staging of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and is heard on the original cast album on the Atlantic Records label. He played Marius in the national tour of Les Misérables and appeared Off-Broadway in the musical, Fermat's Last Tango.