Reviewer: Holly Spanner
Currently performing with The Midtown Men, a high-octane band performing hits from the sixties, Michael Longoria made his Broadway debut in Hairspray, after graduating with a BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
This is Longoria’s debut Solo Broadway Album, and as the title of the album suggests, Broadway Brick by Brick is a collection of tracks from some of the most iconic Broadway shows, including West Side Story, A Chorus Line, Sunset Boulevard, Song and Dance, Company, Mamma Mia and The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music. That is not to say, that they are necessarily the most common songs found in every other musical theatre album by a certain demographic. Grammy winning Producer Jeffrey Lesser has created a charming album and the full might of the orchestra, conducted by Jesse Vargas, is a massive credit to this recording.
This is a touching and honest collection of songs, with a prominent theme of chasing your dream and overcoming the difficulties of the journey. It is somewhat autobiographical (although Hairspray is not featured), opening with Home from The Wiz, reminiscent of childhood days spent listening to his mother playing an old piano at home; a time when all he had – was music.
Corner of the Sky from Pippin is beautifully sungand shows off not only Longoria’s vocal rangebut also his ability to inspire the listener. Emotive and determined, it is the epitome of the big ballad. Poignant from the autobiographical element, Longoria can proudly say he’s found his place in this business we call Show. No doubt the best-known song from Man of La Manca, The Impossible Dream is reflective of the tenor’s journey into musical theatre, bravely going against his father’s wish for him to get a job, get married and have children.
Perhaps best known for his involvement with The Jersey Boys (Longoria originated the role of Joe Pesci and was alternate Frankie Valli in the Original Broadway Cast before taking over the role full-time), it is only fitting that the 1967 classic, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You should feature on the album. Sung a heartfelt romantic devotion, Longoriahandles the tempo shifts with ease in what is a very welcome addition.
When albums advertise a bonus track, it is not unexpected that they deliver something a little different. And, in that respect, Longoria certainly delivers for the closing number. The Latin infusion and orchestrations marry perfectly with his Latin roots, ensuring the album closes on a spectacular high. This is one iconic Rogers and Hammerstein song like you’ve never heard it before – but you’ll have to buy the album to find out which it is.
Michael Longoria – Broadway Brick by Brick is available from Broadway Records