AmericanTheater Web
Andy Propst

Next Tuesday, March 4, PS Classics will release Lauren Kennedy’s debut CD, Songs of Jason Robert Brown. On the disc, Kennedy, currently starring as Fantine in the Broadway production of Les Miserables, sings eleven of the award-winning composer/lyricist’s songs, four of which are premiere recordings.

Kennedy is no stranger to Brown’s work; she originated the role of Catherine in his musical The Last 5 Years, when it premiered at the Northlight Theatre in Chicago. The disc contains three numbers from that musical, including "When You Come Home to Me" which was used in that musical almost as a background piece inside a larger song. On this disc, the song has been lavishly re-orchestrated; in other words, it’s been given "the old Nelson Riddle" (this quote is from Brown’s liner notes which are both humorous and tremendously informative about the work). Kennedy sounds gorgeously seductive in this piece, mimicking a big band singer perfectly.

In contrast to this piece is the jazzy "Pretty Music" from the composer’s musical Parade. Here, he has re-orchestrated the number to sound "like a party in New Orleans". Kennedy’s voice retains its allure, and there is a sauciness and brashness that sneaks in making the song, sung by a man in the musical, anew.

Of the four new pieces, Brown wrote "If I Told You Now" and "Dreaming Wide Awake" specifically for Kennedy and they both fit the singer’s voice like a glove, allowing her to demonstrate her exquisite ability to blend pop vocal and Broadway traditions. Musically, "Dreaming" mimics a dream with its dissonant chords and melodic line that rises only to fall quickly.

The other two songs, "And I Will Follow" and "Letting You Go", come, respectively, from the composer’s unfinished musical adaptation of Wilde’s "The Canterville Ghost" and a song that began the genesis for The Last 5 Years.

This disc also contains several songs from Brown’s Songs for a New World, which when taken with the other pieces fully demonstrates Brown’s exceptional talent. Kennedy’s varied and emotional interpretations only enhance the composer’s creations.

For further information about the disc, visit: www.psclassics.org.