By Steven Suskin
13 Nov 2005
OPPOSITE YOU [PS Classics PS-536]
Joining two of the more accomplished musical theatre singers of today in an album of duets, in itself, is not necessarily a recipe for success. Even if the two singers in question are well suited; even if the two singers are married; even if the two singers are married to each other.
We have no qualms over the selection of this pair. Marin Mazzie has proven herself time and again, with her stunning portrayal of Clara in Passion; a rock-solid performance that held together the pieces of the sprawling Ragtime; and an unexpectedly comic turn as the spitfire shrew in the revival of Kiss Me, Kate. Jason Danieley is less known, perhaps, but a standout talent. Broadway credits include the title role in the most recent revival of Candide and as Malcolm, one of the Full Monty misfits; he was also especially strong in Floyd Collins.
Put them together and what do you get? Happily, the somewhat dissimilar talents mesh in places and complement each other elsewhere. That they are a married Broadway couple singing Broadway duets is beside the point. The test of albums of this type, where accomplished singers perform songs that we've heard perhaps hundreds of times, is simple enough: How do the renditions compare?
Very well, I am glad to report. After a perfectly entertaining "Honeysuckle Rose," Mazzie and Danieley give us a fine Arlen medley, incorporating "Come Rain or Come Shine," "When the Sun Comes Out," "Stormy Weather" and "That Old Black Magic."
Danieley gives us what might be the finest "I Won't Send Roses" we've heard. There are also several new or little-known tracks, the strongest being "A Sorta Love Song" and "The Natural Order" (both by Scott Burkell and Paul Loesel). Ragtime's Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens have provided the album's title song, "Opposite You," while Terrence McNally (of Ragtime and Monty) has provided a highly appreciative and apt essay.
With everything sounding so good, credit must go to musical director/arranger David Loud, who also provided the spare but highly effective orchestration for "I Won't Send Roses." Half the tracks are accompanied by a small orchestra. Orchestrator Larry Hochman does well by the Arlen songs, with other charts from William David Brohn, Joseph Thalken and Christopher Jahnke.
Why we often seem to end up with Sondheim, I don't know, but here he is again. The couple combine for an exquisite "Happiness" (which Mazzie introduced in Passion), followed by pretty much perfect renditions of "Good Thing Going" (Danieley) and "Not a Day Goes On" (Mazzie, and mighty powerful). "Opposite You" is the name of the CD, from the Danieleys. Continued...