While nearly all Broadway musicals get preserved on CD these days, it’s still relatively rare to find spoken-word original cast recordings. But exceptions have been made for plays that rely on particularly intricate or vivid dialogue, such as Spalding Gray’s It’s a Slippery Slope or David Hare’s solo, Via Dolorosa. Now Michael Frayn’s Tony-winning drama Copenhagen will join that select group, as it becomes the first Fynsworth Alley original cast-recording, officially released Nov. 13.
Blair Brown, Philip Bosco and Michael Cumpsty, the original Broadway cast (they’re still in the show) are featured on the disk, which launches Fynsworth Alley’s “Plays on Disc” division. Frayn’s play speculates on the possible outcome of a real-life1941 meeting between two famed physicists, one Danish (and with the Allies) and one German (Axis).
The Copenhagen CD is currently available only at the Fynsworth Alley website — www.fynsworthalley.com — and will then go onsale to other markets in three months.
Fynsworth’s first disk, released Oct. 1, was "The Sondheim Album." That recording had fresh orchestrations (by David Siegel) of songs that will be both new and familiar to followers of Stephen Sondheim's work. Todd Ellison conducted singers including Dame Edna ("Losing My Mind"), Ruthie Henshall ("Children Will Listen"), Dorothy Loudon ("I'm Still Here") and Brian d'Arcy James ("Giants in the Sky").
That disc, too, is available only via mail order through the Fynworth web site and is expected to be in stores by February 2001. *
In his tenure at the Varese Sarabande label, Bruce Kimmel produced 106 theatre related CDs, including shows such as the 1994 revival of Merrily We Roll Along and the 1996 revival of I Do! I Do!, and the L.A. cast recording of Ruthless! The label also offered such solo artists as Sally Mayes, Twiggy, Rebecca Luker and the late Laurie Beechman, and special compilations like "Unsung Musicals" and "Lost in Boston."
But Varese found their show catalogue less profitable and manageable than their film and classical endeavors, so they halted that line "and got out of the Broadway business," as Kimmel puts it. Kimmel bought out the vast majority of the theatre-related disks he created there. He started the new label to put out show-related CDs and also help move the back catalogue of Varese Sarabande discs he produced.
Other expected releases will include an Emily Skinner solo album, which was recorded in August. That disc will include three duets with Skinner's Side Show co-star Alice Ripley, including "Ballyshannon" from James Joyce's The Dead and a medley of Gypsy's "You'll Never Get Away From Me" and "Together Wherever We Go."
"You'd think cast albums wouldn't be as expensive as they are," said Kimmel. "But you factor in the cast, the band...it's much more expensive than the compilation and solo albums." Kimmel estimates the cost of an average solo artist CD to run in the $35,000 range, while the Sondheim album topped $50,000. Other upcoming albums include a jazz trio version (The Trotter Trio) of The Fantasticks — all instrumentals, with co composer Harvey Schmidt guesting at the piano on one track, as well as solos from Brent Barrett (Chicago) and the aforementioned Alice Ripley. (The latter is also recording a rock album on another label but will do a showtune disk for Fynsworth.) A Richard Rodgers compilation, similar to the Sondheim disc, is also in the works.
For more information, check out the Fynsworth web site at www.fynsworthalley.com.