However, Monday morning quarterbacking is no less frequent--and no more useful--in theatre than in football, and whatever its faults, Women on the Verge had and has many strengths. To start with, as this welcome original cast recording from the excellent Ghostlight Records demonstrates, the score is top-drawer, with composer/lyricist David Yazbek once again combining wit and energy to write an audience-friendly, completely enjoyable score. From the overture on, this is a score that moves. It completely sells the group nervous breakdown of the title, while also being melodic, wry, and entertaining. The lyrics are flat-out fun and quite clever. My favorite song is "Lovesick," which perfectly expresses the feeling of insanity that can accompany unrequited love. For example:
You're sick of what you're saying.And
You're sick of what you're thinking.
You'd have another drink
Except you're sick of what you're drinking.
You shudder, you tingleThese lyrics--all of David Yazbek's lyrics--sit perfectly on his melodies, giving the emotion a compelling propulsion and totally pleasing the ear. And Sherie Rene Scott nails the vocal.
The paramedic comes--
You wonder if he's single.
"Invisible," Yazbek's ballad of the disappearance of love, goes for poignancy instead of humor, and Patti LuPone does it full justice. Again, the lyrics are excellent. For instance:
You eat your lunch,Then there is the wonderful, insane "Model Behavior," in which the wonderful, insane Laura Benanti plays the wonderful, insane Candela leaving a series of phone messages on her friend Pepa's answering machine. For example:
A year is gone.
You go to bed, ten years are gone
Then you wake up and wonder
Where is it hiding?
Where did it go?
I don't understand
The life I had wanted.
The life I was promised
The life I had planned?
Then I realized it--
It was invisible.
I'm feeling kind of woozy.It's interesting to compare the performances on the CD with the live performances. Sherie Rene Scott comes across much better on the CD. She seemed almost lost in the show, but here she provides a full, textured character, and her singing is glorious (though her accent is still weak). Patti LuPone and Laura Benani were/are equally superb in both mediums. Brian Stokes Mitchell comes across less effectively on the CD, perhaps because his wry, self-mocking smile is not there to undercut the smarminess of the character. Justin Guarini is equally likeable in both mediums. The 16-person orchestra, conducted by Jim Abbott, is a delight.
I've been crying for an hour.
And my boyfriend has an Uzi
And he doesn't clean the shower.
The physical presentation of the CD is absolutely top of the line. The 42-page, full-color booklet includes essays by Pedro Almodóvar, director of the movie on which the musical is based, and Frank Rich. There is a detailed synopsis, complete lyrics, and a slew of wonderful pictures. Original cast recordings are never a given--my heart still breaks that James Joyce's The Dead was never recorded--and many thanks are owed to Ghostlight Records and Sh-K-Boom for their commitment to the fabulous American art form of the musical and to its incredibly talented practitioners.