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Bounce: A New Musical [Original Cast Recording]

Bounce: A New Musical [Original Cast Recording]

4.0 1
Bounce, Stephen Sondheim's first new musical since 1994's award-winning Passion, is the always-adventurous composer's return to more accessible, traditional musical comedy. Closer in spirit here to Merrily We Roll Along than to Sweeney Todd, Sondheim turns this true-life tale of two very different brothers, Addison and Wilson Mizner --


Bounce, Stephen Sondheim's first new musical since 1994's award-winning Passion, is the always-adventurous composer's return to more accessible, traditional musical comedy. Closer in spirit here to Merrily We Roll Along than to Sweeney Todd, Sondheim turns this true-life tale of two very different brothers, Addison and Wilson Mizner -- whose sprawling entrepreneurial ambitions involve them in events ranging from the Alaskan gold rush of the 1890s to the Florida land boom of the 1920s -- into a metaphor for 20th-century American manifest destiny. To this end, he employs a wide variety of indigenous musical styles -- ragtime, bluegrass, Tin Pan Alley, Dixieland, among them -- to underscore the point. Character-driven and plot-specific, Bounce's two dozen songs benefit from Jonathan Tunick's beautiful and lush orchestrations, as well as the septuagenarian composer's seemingly inexhaustible supply of inventive melodies and peerless wordplay. The musical, which received its premiere in Washington, D.C., in 2003, is a stunning return to form for the maestro as well as a valedictory reunion, after more than two decades, with the legendary Harold Prince, director of Sondheim's greatest triumphs on Broadway (Company, Follies, A Little Night Music). A superb cast of Rialto veterans including Howard McGillin, Richard Kind, Michele Pawk, and 1950s MGM film goddess Jane Powell (as the brothers' favorite-playing mother), bring this entertaining and first-rate addition to the Sondheim canon to vibrant life.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
The musical Bounce, with songs by Stephen Sondheim and a libretto by John Weidman (the two had previously collaborated on Pacific Overtures and Assassins), played for six weeks at the Goodman Theater in Chicago (June 30-August 10, 2003), followed by four weeks at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. (October 21-November 16, 2003). These runs may have been considered tryouts for Broadway, but during the D.C. engagement, the producers announced that the show would not be going to New York. They blamed a lack of theater space, but observers noted the negative reviews Bounce had received. For most shows that close out of town, that would have been the end of that, but Sondheim is such a celebrated figure in the musical theater, one whose flops (Anyone Can Whistle, Merrily We Roll Along, both of which made it to Broadway) are nearly as legendary as his hits, that Nonesuch Records recorded the show with the original cast, its commercial failure notwithstanding. Sondheim fans, who may have followed Bounce's long, tortuous gestation (which included rewrites, title changes, re-casting, workshops, and lawsuits), will welcome the result, if only because the songs are characteristic of the composer. It may be unfair, given Sondheim's musical sophistication and nearly unequaled gift for lyrical wit and rhyme, to complain that the Bounce score contains just another bunch of typical Sondheim songs. But it's hard to listen to the album without thinking of earlier compositions. For example, "Addison's Trip" is reminiscent of "Opening Doors" from Merrily We Roll Along, while "You" recalls "Hello, Little Girl" from Into the Woods. But if there's nothing new here musically, that is less of a problem than the characters and plot. Bounce concerns a couple of real-life brothers, one a con man, the other a journeyman architect, following their ups and downs from Alaska to Florida over a period of 37 years (1896-1933), and even after their deaths. Sondheim has suggested that their jousting has the flavor of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road movies, but it's far more venomous than that -- when Wilson Mizner asks his brother if they're in heaven, Addison Mizner replies, "If guys like you go to Heaven, Willie, who has to go to Hell?" At the same time, the relationship between them and with their mother has distinctly incestuous overtones. Part of the problem, then, is one of mood. At times, the show is pitched as a light-hearted vaudeville, but at others it is deadly serious. At the end, however, the characters are not engaging, no matter how clever the lyrics they have to sing, and despite the efforts of an excellent cast led by television star Richard Kind, veteran film star Jane Powell, and stage performers Howard McGillin and Michele Pawk.

Product Details

Release Date:


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jane Powell   Vocals
Walt Borys   Woodwind
David Caddick   Conductor,Musical Direction
Jeff Cooper   Bass
Chris Gekker   Trumpet
Bill Richards   Percussion,Drums
Fred Zimmerman   cast
Tommy "D" Daugherty   cast
Herndon Lackey   Vocals,cast
Howard McGillin   Vocals,cast
Michele Pawk   Vocals,cast
Jennifer Rickard   Violin
Lee Lachman   Woodwind
Xiaoyoung Chen   Violin
Gavin Creel   Vocals,cast
Kristin Blodgett   Keyboards
Tim White   Trumpet
Jaquelyn Ritz   cast
David Basch   Viola
Kenneth Bell   Horn
Zino Bogachek   Violin
Bogetich   cast
Timothy H. Butler   Cello
Richard L. Chang   Violin
Philippe C. Chao   Viola
Joseph Connell   Percussion,Drums
Jessica Dan Fan   Violin
Keith Daudelin   Woodwind
Douglas Dubé   Violin,Concert Master
Deanna Dunagan   cast
Emil George   Horn
Uri Wassertzug   Viola
Richard Kind   Vocals,cast
Stan Wilkerson   Trombone
Craig Ramsay   cast
Bounce Cast Ensemble   cast
Kennedy Center Musical Theater Orchestra   Performing Ensemble

Technical Credits

Stephen Sondheim   Composer,Lyricist
Clive Gregson   Composer
Michael Arnold   Choreographer
Robert Hurwitz   Producer,Audio Production
Richard Julian   Composer
Tommy Krasker   Producer,Audio Production
Tom Lazarus   Engineer
Jonathan Tunick   Orchestration
Harold Prince   Director
John Weidman   Book
Allen Johnston   Contributor
Serino Coyne   Cover Art
Tom Griep   Engineer
David H. Lawrence   Wig Designer
Gregg Schaufeld   Editorial Coordinator
Anjali Bidani   Stage Manager
Duncan Robert Edwards   Sound Design
Sean Patrick Flahaven   Liner Notes
Frank Rich   Liner Notes
Thomas Griep   Engineer
Gragg Schaufeld   Editorial Coordinator
Reginald Marsh   Jacket Design
Mark Simon   Casting

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
scenic_topher More than 1 year ago
It's been a rough road for this little show. The musical has been through a lot, and when it finally opens for previews on Oct. 28, 2008, it will be for the fourth time. Previously titled "Gold!," "Wise Guys," the production recorded here, "Bounce," and now as "Road Show," Sondheim has been tweaking this pet project for more than a decade, a show he says he's wanted to write since he was in his twenties. Through it all, from less-than-beaming critics' reviews, to lawsuits, to Sondheim's stubborn tenacity to rewrite again and again, we're left with this 'foot print' in musical history.
What's on this recording is a rare look into the evolution of a broadway show written by a truly great composer. Engaging in it's own right, knowing that there's another retooled version of the same show to come makes this one especially intriguing to hear. This score is a little more accessible than many of Sondheim's other scores. While many of his musicals are far less single-song based and difficult to remember as individual cues you might walk away humming, this show is full of catchy stand-alone tunes, a unique departure from much of his previous work.
Add to it a story that spans enormous leaps in time and location, following the Mizner brothers through their whole lifetimes, traveling from California to Alaska, Hawaii to Florida, even brief stints in Heaven, and it becomes apparent that this show was big undertaking even before it got onto Sondheim's page, let alone to the theatre.
I guess even the greats can find struggles in their work, but rarely do we have the privilege to witness the process, the growth of something that the public usually only sees in its final state. Don't believe that this isn't worth your attention just because it's only a part, an 'unfinished' part, of the road to a new musical. It's absolutely worth it. Consider it at least a really well fleshed-out behind-the-scenes document. And if you're a Sondheim fan, witnessing his creative progression makes it all the more valuable and enjoyable. Bumps in the road aren't usually this fruitful.