Monday, April 30, 2012

IWU Alums Appear on New Cast Recordings

Two current Broadway shows with Illinois Wesleyan alums in their casts have released cast recordings. So if you're looking to keep your set of alumni recordings up to date, you'll need to add the new "Porgy and Bess" cast album available from PS Classics, including IWU alum Bryonha Marie Parham, and the cast album from the new Broadway show "Newsies," including IWU album Evan Kasprzak and now available from Ghostlight Records. You can download the "Newsies" album from iTunes or Amazon now, or pre-order the cd at the official Newsies site.

 Parham graduated from IWU's Musical Theatre program in 2007, and she's gone on to perform in "Ragtime" on Broadway and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

She plays the role of Serena and sings "My Man's Gone Now" in this new version of "Porgy and Bess," directed by Diane Paulus. The book of the original musical has been adapted by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks in an attempt to make it more accessible to contemporary audiences.

"The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," as it's been dubbed for the current production, opened at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre on January 12, 2012. Its limited run ends September 30, 2012.

The cast album features four-time Tony-winner Audra McDonald as Bess and Broadway veteran Norm Lewis as Porgy. David Alan Grier, star of TV's "In Living Color" and a two-time Tony nominee, appears as Sporting Life, and Philip Boykin plays Crown. The show itself, plus McDonald, Lewis and Boykin have been nominated for Drama Desk awards, and that's McDonald and Lewis you see at right on the cd cover.

Kasprzak rose to fame through the TV dance show "So You Think You Can Dance," where he finished third overall while he was still an IWU student. He then returned to Illinois Wesleyan to finish his degree, graduating with the Musical Theatre class of 2010. He appeared in the Paper Mill Playhouse version of "Newsies" that has now transferred to Broadway.

 "Newsies the Musical" is based on the 1992 Disney movie simply called "Newies," which featured a young Christian Bale in the lead role. It tells the story of a newsboy strike in New York City in 1889, as young newspaper hawkers tried to fight back against magnates Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Songs like "Seize the Day" and "King of New York" that appeared in the movie are also in the Broadway show, with new songs added by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, the original composer and lyricist.

On Broadway, Jeremy Jordan fills the role Christian Bale played, with John Dossett as Pulitzer and Andrew Keenan-Bolger as another newsboy.

"Newsies the Musical" opened at the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway on March 29, 2012, and is scheduled to close August 12.

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