American Conservatory Theater’s first-ever cast album _ for last year’s superb Happy End by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill _ is released Tuesday (Jan.30) on the Ghostlight Records label.
The CD _ the first English-language recording of the score _ is beautifully produced by David Frost and preserves music director/conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos’ excellent work with a snazzy, jazzy eight-piece band.
The Brecht-Weill score (with lyrics adapted by Michael Feingold) is more accessible than some of their other collaborations and features some sonic gems including “The Sailor’s Tango” (sensuously performed by Charlotte Cohn), “The Mandalay Song” (Jack Willis in a vigorous performance as Sam “Mammy” Wurlitzer) and another lustrous Cohn performance on “Surabaya Johnny.”
The ensemble’s moment to shine in this Guys and Dolls meets Threepenny Opera tale of gangsters and Salvation Army soldiers comes in the prologue, with the cynical “blessing” of Rockefeller, Ford and J.P. Morgan.
The show’s lively but sardonic tone resonates throughout the disc, coming on strong in the epilogue: “And though the poor may starve and die, make sure no earthly court will try the rich who rule the Earth the way you rule the sky, almighty Lord!”
Happy End makes for some very happy listening indeed.