Book and Lyrics: Jack Feldstein
Music and Lyrics: Paul Doust
Director: Ella Jane New
A mysterious New Year’s Eve party at a remote guesthouse in South California is the subject of new audio musical by Jack Feldstein and Paul Doust designed to be experienced entirely online. Using a murder mystery set-up including a map of the mansion on the production website, three guests are invited to spend the turn of the year with the irresistible Mr Dellamort who gives them all a night to remember.
The audio musical divides into three Acts running at between 30 and 40 minutes each, and the music is now available as a separate original cast recording containing the seventeen individual and differently styled songs. As with any musical that isn’t entirely sung through, the album alone may not make a lot of sense without the missing book and hearing it for the first time in isolation, the listener has to piece together the snippets of plot to join the songs together.
The plot focuses on the three individuals with their own problems while their enigmatic host Mr Dellamort, the self-styled Angel of Death, threatens each of them in dramatic Phantom of the Opera style. In fact, the story has much in common with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s musical both in structure and musical approach, as a shadowy figure intends to destroy everyone while retaining a charismatic hold over the guests who refuse to see the truth.
Even without the additional sound effects and narrative sections provided by the audio musical, there is still plenty of atmosphere in the songs with the opener To Die For nicely setting the scene, refrains of which feature throughout Paul Doust’s composition. This gives a unity to the soundtrack as well as helping to drive the plot through the music alone.
There is a good balance between solo numbers and those featuring multiple cast members which, for a musical never intended to be staged, gives variety to the audio experience by providing different vocal mixes. Doust and Feldstein use the songs partially to develop the tale and partially as character devices, giving insight into particular individuals such as drug addict Rhonda (Lena Hall) whose song Bad Girl is a rock highlight as is Crave performed by Jackie Hoffman as a lusty Mina Thompson.
The basis of the spooky sound effects meet cabaret approach provides the musical’s base layer, giving Doust and Feldstein a platform to experiment with styles including the fun dance pop number Greek Gold about wild parties in ancient mythology and the more traditional musical theatre song Finale. With a cast including Broadway stars James Monroe Iglehart, Courtney Reed, Telly Leung and Barry Scott, the performance quality is understandably high.
Falling in Love with Mr Dellamort is an interesting and fairly successful experiment in creating online musical theatre during a pandemic. The cast recording doesn’t quite stand alone, requiring a synopsis and, even better, some familiarity with the original material to fully enjoy and grasp what is happening, but it certainly defies the medium to create a larger-than-life audio experience.
Soundtrack available here
Falling in Love With Mr Dellamort website here with podcasts and narration