Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kate Baldwin to Croon Lane & Harburg Favorites

The effersvescent Kate Baldwin will be heading into the recording studio today to start work on her very first solo album. Baldwin, who recently starred in the well-received Encores! revival of Finian's Rainbow, will celebrate the music of Burton Lane and the lyrics of Yip Harburg, consisting of songs they wrote together and separately. A track list is pending, but hopes are high for an early fall release.

According to the article at Playbill, Baldwin will be collaborating with Jason Robert Brown, Sam Davis, Joel Fram, Joshua Rosenblum, Georgia Stitt and Joseph Thalken, all supplying arrangements. Rob Berman, musical director for Encores!, will serve in the same capacity on the record. Tommy Krasker will produce the album for PS Classics.

I never got around to talking about Finian's last March, but there was one of those supreme moments of joy when Kate sang the first phrase of "How Are Things in Glocca Mora?" The vibrancy of her vocal tone is innervating, like the sudden warmth of a hearth on a cold winter's evening. She found considerable depth and yearning in the familiar standard that I felt that I was hearing the song for the very first time. Playing opposite the legendary Jim Norton and the charismatic Cheyenne Jackson, she was the epitome of loveliness as Sharon, a role that the actress has found herself revisiting quite a bit in her career.

Baldwin been seen on Broadway in The Full Monty, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Wonderful Town, She's amassed a great deal of regional credits, starring in Huntington's She Loves Me, PaperMill's Hello, Dolly! as Irene and Guys and Dolls as Sarah Brown, Katharine in the NJ Shakespeare's Henry V, various engagements of White Christmas Off-Broadway, she performed in Bush is Bad, and has also sung from the Sondheim catalogue on several occasions, including Opening Doors at Carnegie Hall and at Wall to Wall Sondheim for the master's 75th birthday.

Finian's Rainbow starts previews this August at the St. James Theatre in the first Broadway revival of the musical in 49 years. For me, there is one reason and one reason alone for this production: to give this gracious and lovely leading lady the Broadway stardom for which she is so inevitably destined.

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