MADDIE'S BACK AT LAST! Review by Mark Smith for Musicast.co.uk
Twenty years ago the musical Maddie premiered at the Salisbury Playhouse, and following enthusiastic reviews it transferred to the Lyric Theatre in the West End a year later. But 1997 was a strange year for musicals – Martin Guerre floundered at the Prince Edward, and it wasn’t until November’s opening of Chicago that a musical smash hit was born that year. Maddie was one of several shows that year – Romance Romance and The Goodbye Girl included – to open and close very quickly.
But Stephen Keeling, Shaun McKenna and Steven Dexter’s show was recorded and released on CD at the time and has now been rereleased as part of a 2-CD 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition London Cast Album by Stage Door Records (STAGE 9047). Those of us (like me) who bought the original CD and regretted not catching the show in its all-too-short run, can join newcomers to the piece in not only enjoying the luxurious melodies of the original album but also discovering some long-hidden gems that are either cut songs or alternate versions of numbers that did make it into the show, taken from studio demos made between 1990 and 1997. It’s a musical theatre completist’s dream!
Based on the Jack Finney novel Marion’s Wall (later turned into the fantasy film Maxie with Glenn Close), Maddie enjoys the kind of zany, funny yet poignant story that is best portrayed in musical theatre. Maddie herself is a very outgoing female ghost – a budding actress, singer and dancer from the 1920s whose life was tragically cut short when on the brink of stardom. When young couple Jan and Nick move into her old apartment (still owned by her lover Al, now a retired vaudeville pianist) in San Francisco in 1981, Maddie possesses Jan in order to try to fulfil her destiny. All sorts of comic mayhem ensues.
This 2-CD set includes some truly hummable songs from the original cast recording that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since reacquainting myself with Stephen Keeling’s music and Shaun McKenna’s lyrics. Songs such as ‘Star’ by the American actress Summer Rognlie (in the dual role of Maddie and Jan) who has a megawatt voice that would surely light up any stage. Playing opposite her, the always-dependable West End actor Graham Bickley is particularly strong in his reflective solo ‘Afraid’ and joins Rognlie for the fun duet ‘Easy’. As their landlord, Kevin Colson also has some quality duets with Rognlie as his former love, while Lynda Baron is hilarious as Cordelia Van Arc, the wealthy patron of the museum where Nick works as a curator, whom Maddie also possesses briefly.
The second CD in this must-have set for musical fans contains songs from studio demos. Listening to these is proof that a show is never written, but rewritten! But these are not only interesting from the point of view of the show’s development, but also because they include numbers from such musical theatre luminaries as the much-missed Mary Millar, along with Lorna Dallas and Jacqui Scott. John Barrowman – working primarily in musical theatre in those days – joins Scott for several big numbers too.
So after twenty years, Maddie is back – at least on CD. However, with three exciting new tracks recorded earlier this year also featured in Stage Door Records’ 2-CD set from a recent rewrite of the show, it surely will only be a matter of time before Maddie is back on stage. Next time I won’t miss it!
Reviews for the Maddie 20th anniversary
deluxe CD Page 1
MADDIE 20th Anniversary CD - Write-up from www.bwaytunes.com
We've got what we think is a great download for you this week, "Ghost," from Stage Door Records new 20th anniversary deluxe original London cast recording of Maddie.
The show, with music by Stephen Keeling, lyrics by Shaun McKenna, and a book by McKenna and Steven Dexter, ran in London's West End back in 1997. It's based on Jack Finney's novel Marion's Wall, which in turn inspired the movie Maxie that starred Glenn Close and Mandy Patinkin. The tale for book, movie, and tuner centers on a couple who discover that their new apartment in San Francisco is also home to the ghost of a 1920s dancer who remains desperate to become a big screen star.
Maddie had only a brief run when it bowed, despite some glowing notices. Since then, it has developed quite a following thanks to a score that deftly blends period sounds and contemporary ones, perfect for a tale of characters from two very different time periods.
With the new Stage Door Records album, you not only get to savor the show's original cast, which featured Graham Bickley, Summer Rognlie, Kevin Colson, and Lynda Baron in principal roles, but also an additional 25 tracks (including several with John Barrowman) of studio demos, cut songs, alternate versions and even a trio of tunes that have been newly recorded specifically for this lavish and lovingly-curated release.
Our Free Song this week comes from this plethora of bonus material. The song 'Ghost', performed by John Barr, comes toward the start of the show, just at the moment that Maddie's presence is being discovered. It's terrifically funny and tuneful, particularly in Barr's assured performance. This release sets a new benchmark for reissue cast recordings.
MADDIE – 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition London Cast Album. Review by Nick Wakeham for Musical Theatre Review
Gosh – is it really 20 years since Maddie was on the West End stage? That’s what happens when you get older – the years get shorter! So it was with a lot of delight that I listened to the CD and wallowed, once again, in nostalgia.
The musical is based on the film Maxie (based on the novel Marion’s Wall) which is basically about a somewhat staid wife who becomes inhabited by the spirit of a madcap singer and dancer who died in a car crash on her way to an important audition for Cecil B DeMille.
The show starred Summer Rognlie as Jan/Maddie alongside Graham Bickley, Lynda Baron and Kevin Coulson – a very strong cast. The music and lyrics were in the hands of Stephen Keeling and Shaun McKenna respectively, with a book by Shaun McKenna and Steven Dexter. The production was directed by Martin Connor.
The show stands up well after all these years and, hearing it after all this time, I really wanted to see the production again. However, Stage Door Records hasn’t just stopped at re-releasing the original cast – you also get a second CD full of songs cut from the show and alternate versions by the likes of John Barrowman, Teddy Kempner, Lorna Dallas, Mary Millar and many other luminaries of the West End stage through the years. As ever, the double CD is accompanied by a beautiful booklet full of information.
Another wonderful Stage Door Records release!