Every Friday look for a column written by The Broadway Critic Blog’s newest columnist, Mr. Tyler Martins (@mrtylermartins). His passionate love for Sondheim will probably dominate the conversation, but his love for musical theatre is palpable.
Mrs. Baldwin – I am so sorry I missed your show at Feinstein’s, but can I say how pleased I am that PS Classics decided to record that night for us.”
Kate Baldwin and I have much in common. For one, as evidenced by my feeble attempt above, neither one of us are very good at writing lyrics. For another, we both love Sheldon Harnick, lyricist of many Tony Award winning musicals (and some Pulitzer Prize winning ones, too). Harnick is most well known for his work with Jerry Bock. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, SHE LOVES ME and THE APPLE TREE are just some of the many works of Bock & Harnick and lucky for us, Kate Baldwin sets her sights on singing quite masterfully some songs from all these shows. In addition to his work with Bock, Harnick has worked with other composers, such as Joe Raposo (A WONDERFUL LIFE) and Richard Rodgers (REX).
“She loves him and let me tell you, I love it, hearing her sing his songs.” (I’ll leave the lyric writing to Mr. Harnick.)
SHE LOVES HIM is a delight, a treasure trove and a beautiful tribute to one of Broadway’s greatest lyricists. Recorded live from her Feinstein’s gig, SHE LOVES HIM captures the grace, the beauty and the incredible talent of Tony-Award nominee Kate Baldwin. The album opens with a letter to Mr. Harnick, and then comes a terrific “He Loves Me,” (which, for me, is an instant earworm) from Bock & Harnick’s SHE LOVES ME. She also sings a delightful “A Trip to the Library” and a beautiful, heart-wrenching “Will He Like Me?” sung to her (at that time) unborn child, from the same show.
Halfway through, together with Sheldon Harnick, they sing a rousing rendition of “To Life” from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and “Dear Sweet Sewing Machine,” a softly sung waltz that was cut from the show.. One of the many joys of this album is that we get a listen to Sheldon Harnick singing “If I Were a Rich Man” and boy does he pull it off.
Kate is as charming as ever in the dialogue tracks – whether she spoke about how similar the Jewish and the Irish were to recalling turkey sandwiches and mustard on her chin. Accompanied by Scott Cady on piano, Andrew Sterman on woodwinds and John Beale on bass, Kate brings such tenderness to “You’re Going Far” (made popular by the film “The Heartbreak Kid”). Musically, each number was outstandingly arranged, including a FIDDLER ON THE ROOF medley. (Her Yiddish is admirable for an Irish girl.) “Gorgeous” from THE APPLE TREE was especially fun and “I Couldn’t Be With Anyone But You” from A WONDERFUL LIFE may have made me shed a few tears. (Who am I kidding – I was sobbing throughout the whole album.)
The album comes to a close with two duets from Kate and Sheldon, both of which focus on the theme of parenting: “In My Own Lifetime” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” There are no words to express the genuine emotion conveyed, not only though the final numbers, but throughout the entire album. SHE LOVES HIM is a terrific follow-up to Kate’s first solo album LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS, which covers the songs of Burton and Lane. I cannot wait to see who’s songbook she sets her eyes on next. Either way, it will be a must-have.
Oh, and one last thing: Kate, can you come back to Broadway, please?
Listen to a few of my favorite tracks:
“The Boston Beguine”
“You’re Going Far”