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Entertainment

Josh Groban’s Broadway and Noel

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

Josh Groban’s latest album Stages got me thinking. Had producer David Foster never opened the demo tape that Groban’s voice teacher sent, do you think he would have landed on Broadway instead of becoming a recording star? Maybe. He was already studying musical theater in school. Would he have had the same degree of recording success after Broadway? Quite likely. That was what happened to Barbra Streisand. She went into theater first. So did Hugh Jackman before he became Wolverine. 

But we will never know the answers. Foster saw Groban as a recording star, who was then only 17 years old, from the onset. And as what happens most of the time, Foster was right. Groban had a huge hit with You’re Still You on his first time out. But because of that, Groban never came to know the fears, excitement and the ultimate thrill of being in a Broadway show. He had a huge hit with his first single but he missed out on having a song from a musical become his very own like what happened to Streisand with People from Funny Girl.

So maybe we can say that the album Stages is Groban’s way of making up for that loss. It is his way of saying that I could have done these songs on Broadway. Produced by Bernie Herms and Humberto Gatica, who has done great work with Andrea Bocelli and other big names, the album is a collection of songs from famous musicals. They have Groban singing with a 75-piece orchestra and the result is the grandest ever. They make quite a combination, Groban and Broadway. The feeling you get while listening is that these are songs were created for a voice like his. 

The choices are excellent and even include less known but ideally suited songs like Finishing The Hat from Sunday In The Park With George and Gold Can Turn To Sand from Kristina. There are also surprise collaborations like All I Ask Of You, a duet with Kelly Clarkson from Phantom Of The Opera. Everything is perfection. Well, not really, because I have two songs in mind that I think would have really taken Stages over the top. They should have included Somewhere from West Side Story and Being Alive from Jekyll and Hyde. I know, they come across as predictable choices but can you just imagine how great Groban will sound with them. But no matter, he can always do a Volume 2 of Stages. Besides this one already has more than enough Broadway greats for everybody to enjoy.

These are: Pure Imagination from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory; What I Did For Love from A Chorus Line; Bring Him Home from Les Miserables; La Temps Des Cathedrales from Notre-Dame de Paris; Try To Remember from The Fantasticks; Over The Rainbow from The Wizard Of Oz; Children Will Listen/ Not While I’m Around from Into The Woods and Sweeney Todd; You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel; Old Devil Moon featuring Chris Botti on trumpet from Finian’s Rainbow; If I Loved You also from Carousel, a duet with Audra McDonald; Anthem from Chess; and Empty Chairs At Empty Tables also from Les Miz. 

And since Christmas Day is only a few weeks away, now is a good time to revisit Noel, Groban’s Christmas album. It was produced by Foster who I must say makes the most sparkling Christmas albums ever. Noel is a gorgeous mix of Christmas emotions, the simple and the momentous and the sweet and the sad as traditional favorites meet up with the new. 

Thankful, the new original composition in the line-up, has by now become a Yuletide staple. I’ll Be Home For Christmas with messages from soldiers stationed in Iraq tugs at the heart. And can you think of anything that can beat the spectacular sound of Groban singing O Come All Ye Faithful together with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir under the direction of Craig Jessop? Well, I can and it is also Groban. But this time around, he is alone playing the piano and singing the old carol, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. Exquisitely beautiful.

Also included are Silent Night; Little Drummer Boy feat. guitarist Andy McKee; Ave Maria; Angels We Have Heard On High, a duet with R&B star Brian McKnight; The Christmas Song; What Child Is This? The First Noel, a duet with country music diva Faith Hill; Petit Papa Noel and Panis Angelicus.

 

A CHORUS LINE

ACIRC

ALL I ASK OF YOU

ANDREA BOCELLI

ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

AVE MARIA

BARBRA STREISAND

BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

BERNIE HERMS AND HUMBERTO GATICA

BRING HIM HOME

GROBAN

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