The Christmas season is in full show tune swing now that the latest volume of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ “Broadway’s Carols for a Cure” album has arrived. The album pairs the casts from today’s leading Broadway musicals, including Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away and Hamilton, with seasonal favorites, both classic and new. Once again, the result is pure magic and is sure to help make the 2017 holiday season shine brighter than ever before. Lynn Pinto, the album’s producer, explains more.
When creating the first “Carols for a Cure” album in 1999, did you imagine you’d be doing it 19 years later?
Lynn Pinto: We had no idea it would be such a fun, creative outlet for everyone and that theater fans would respond so favorably to it.
How has the series grown through the years?
That first year, we recorded in a church over a couple of days. It’s since evolved into a big production. We record over six weeks with a huge team of amazing professionals in some of the best studios in New York City.
How does it work? Do you approach each show with the song you would like them to record for the album?
The companies choose their songs. Most times, they’ve already chosen their song long before we even start scheduling the recording sessions.
Was Billy Porter a dream to work with?
Billy has sung on “Carols for a Cure” a few times, and he’s always fantastic! Such a pro. He knocks it out of the park every time he opens his mouth. Many Broadway singers aren’t as comfortable behind a microphone, but Billy knows exactly what he’s doing. He has a strong background in recording, so he instinctively knows what works and what doesn’t, and always gives us wonderful options to work with.
Avenue Q’s “12 Days of Christmas” is simply adorable.
Isn’t it? The company, led by Michael Liscio and Karl Mansfield, came up with the words and arrangement. They even brought along their puppets for photo ops after the session!
How does the cast of CATS make “Joy to the World” their own?
That particular single is so special to me! Brian Taylor, Andrew Zinsmeister and Max Calkin did such a creative arrangement, inspired largely by our current political state of affairs. They wanted to bring hope to the many of us who are despairing under the current administration, and their ingenious arrangement does just that. Mamie Parris (who stars as Grizabella in Cats) solos and brings such joy to the song.
Every song is a gem.
I agree. I’m always asked to pick a favorite, and I just can’t. I adore them all! Daniel Lincoln’s arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and the stellar performance by the company of Wicked is incredible. Sharon Wheatley and the lovely ladies from Come From Away present a stunningly beautiful version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” The cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory perform a soulful version of “Do You Hear What I Hear,” and The Lion King’s version of the Stevie Wonder classic “Everyone’s a Kid at Christmas” is such a happy song, I’ve been singing it for weeks!
What are some of the original songs featured on the album?
Anastacia McCleskey and the cast of Waitress perform an original song by Sara Bareilles’ long-time guitar player Meghan Toohey. It’s wonderful!
The cast of The Phantom of the Opera surprised us this year with an original folk song called “Old Fashioned Christmas.” The Hamilton cast always comes up with something relevant, gorgeous and insightful, and this year was no exception. “Chester” is a Revolutionary War hymn with references to slavery, and six members of the cast wrote original raps to bring it into 2017. I also have a special place in my heart for “This Is the Night,” a gospel song written and performed by NaTasha Yvette Williams from the incredible company of Chicago.
Why is it important that fans of Broadway support the album?
It’s important that everyone support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in whatever way they can. It’s an organization that began as a grassroots effort when so many in the Broadway community were feeling utterly helpless and hopeless from losing friends left and right. It has grown into a larger organization over the years, but the mission and heart of the BC/EFA remains the same. The contributions made in any form reach people in need all over the country and around the world. I hope that people support the album, because the music is imbued with so much love and spirit and [is] perfect for this most magical time of the year.
“Broadway’s Carols for a Cure” can be purchased at BroadwayCares.org.