THE KING SINGS: In May 1997, the Alan Menken/Tim Rice pop oratorio, King David, opened the breathtakingly restored New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. The week of concerts was recorded live and recently released on Disney/Buena Vista Records. Like this year's Tony-winning musical Titanic, King David features a cast of talented singers performing some striking choral moments, including "Saul Has Slain His Thousands," a thrilling vocal display that starts slowly and builds to a climactic finale. Without exception, the leading players are all wonderful in their roles, possessing some of the finest voices Broadway has to offer. Standouts include the riveting Judy Kuhn, a Broadway favorite who has lit up the stage in Chess and She Loves Me, and who shines here on the plaintive ballad "Never Again"; Marcus Lovett, in the title role, whose monumental singing brightens the tale of the young shepherd who grows into the King of Israel; and Martin Vidnovic, whose powerhouse vocals as Saul help bring to life the man who adopts David and grows increasingly jealous of his many successes. Additionally, both Stephen Bogardus and Alice Ripley fair well, too, Ripley in the melodic "When in Love" and Bogardus who serves as a narrator throughout the biblical tale.
BERNSTEIN LIVES ON: "Glitter and Be Gay," "Make Our Garden Grow" and "It Must Be So" are just three of the beautiful Leonard Bernstein tunes to be found on the RCA Victor release of the recent Broadway revival of Candide, which features Jim Dale, Andrea Martin, Jason Danieley and opera singer Harolyn Blackwell. . . . Another Bernstein classic, West Side Story, has received a new recording in conjunction with the show's 40th anniversary. Academy and Grammy Award-winning musician Dave Grusin presents his rendition of the musical on the N2K Encoded Music label. Grusin recently explained that "My idea to revisit Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story was born of an old respect for his unique approach to what we have now come to know as show music. It has been a labor of love to revise and re-create this music for an extended concert jazz band." Two of the vocalists who brighten Dave Grusin Presents West Side Story are Gloria Estefan and Jon Secada.
OF SPECIAL INTEREST: Varese Sarabande has just issued its first video release, Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl. This two-hour tribute to the Tony Award-winning composer of Mack and Mabel, Mame, La Cage aux Folles and Hello, Dolly! features a spectacular cast that includes Bea Arthur, Carol Channing, Davis Gaines, George Hearn, Florence Lacey and Leslie Uggams. Spotlight: Sarah Brightman
Sarah Brightman, who starred in London and in New York in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, has released a series of solo albums in the past few years (Dive, Fly, Surrender), the newest of which is entitled Time To Say Goodbye. Released in Europe under the title Timeless, the album allows Brightman to display her classical side as well as her cosmopolitan influences and finds the lyric soprano singing in English, Hebrew, Italian and Spanish. On Time To Say Goodbye Brightman is joined by two critically acclaimed opera singers: Jose Cura and Andrea Bocelli. Her duet with Italian tenor Bocelli (of the recording's title track) is one of the CD's highlights, a song that topped the charts all across Europe, selling 12 million copies.
-- By Andrew Gans