By Marilyn Lester
The second installment of The Michael Friedman Collection, (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch, has been released by Ghostlight Records and The Civilians (of which Friedman was a founding Associate Artist). The new title is available for downloading and streaming. Friedman was a versatile composer and lyricist, best known as the co-creator of the critically-acclaimed musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. His untimely death at age 41 sparked a commitment to keep his music alive through these recordings. (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch, an observation of American public culture, asks the question: how do we know what we know when everyone in power seems to be lying? Is it possible to know what’s really going on in the world when information is manipulated to serve particular interests? To answer these questions about the politics of information, The Civilians conducted extensive interviews with subjects ranging from a policymaker to an extraterrestrial (!) to soldiers guarding the New York subway, subsequently developing a cabaret-play from the collected material in 2006. The album features Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Nick Blaemire, Adam Chanler-Berat, Brad Heberlee, Daoud Heidami, Osh Ghanimah, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Jennifer R. Morris, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, Brian Charles Rooney and Mary Testa, with an ensemble including Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, Stephen Schapero, and Jacob Keith Watson.
Another Ghostlight release, Paris Commune, also part of The Michael Friedman Collection, is a bold theatrical telling of Europe’s first socialist revolution in 1871, wherein working-class Parisians overthrew the French government, declared Paris autonomous and launched an attempt to radically reinvent society. The story is told through found texts and original works from the time period. Paris Commune was written by Steve Cosson and Michael Friedman, with songs translated and adapted by Friedman. The album features eight songs, with Kate Buddeke, Aysan Celik, Charlotte Dobbs, Rebecca Hart, Nina Hellman, Daniel Jenkins, Brian Sgambati, and Sam Breslin Wright, and an ensemble including Randy Blair, Ally Bonino, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, and Jonathan Raviv.
A third Ghostlight release, scheduled for a September 4 debut, is a special edition of the original Broadway cast album of In the Heights, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda with a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The new release is a special red, white and blue-colored vinyl 3-LP Box Set featuring the colors of the Puerto Rico flag. The album will be a Barnes & Noble exclusive to help celebrate Vinyl Weekend, September 4-6. This Box Set features remastered audio, 90 minutes of music, and a 16-page booklet with full lyrics, original Broadway show photos, a synopsis and liner notes from director Thomas Kail. An MP3 download card is also included. In the Heights will be released as a feature film in June 2021 from Warner Bros. Pictures. To pre-order the new edition of the original cast album, please visit: ghostlightrecords.lnk.to/intheheights_specialvinyl
Finally, Broadway Records released a starry album of A Never-Ending Line (A Female Song Cycle), composed by Jaime Lozano with a group of female lyricists (Lindsay Erin Anderson, Neena Beber, Lauren Epsenhart, Sami Horneff, Victoria Kühne, Lisa Mongillo, Marina Pires, Noemi de la Puente, and June Rachelson-Ospa), featuring Julia Murney, Betsy Wolfe, Emily Skeggs, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jenna Ushkowitz, Samantha Massell, Hannah Shankman, Natalie Weiss, Alena Watters, Arielle Jacobs, Alex Finke, Alexa Green, Sherz Aletaha, Genny Lis Padilla, Indra Palomo, Florencia Cuenca, Barrie Kealoha, Anne Fraser Thomas, Kim Sava, Linedy Genao, Whitney Bashor, Jennifer Sanchez, LaDonna Burns, Natalie Toro, Nora Schell, Michelle Beth Herman, Jennifer DiNoia, Doreen Montalvo, Ramona Keller and Alyssa Fox. Inspired by his upbringing in a strong matriarchy, Lozano conceived A Never-Ending Line as a tribute to the women in his life. The album is produced by Jaime Lozano, Jesús Altamira, Demián Cantú, and Victoria Kühne and was recorded at Victoria Records Studios (Monterrey, Mexico); M&I Studios (New York City); and GMTWP Recording Studio (New York City). Orchestrations by Jaime Lozano and Jesús Altamira were performed by Jesús Altamira, José Enrique Guzmán and Natalia Vilchis. All proceeds generated from sales of the album will benefit Maestra Music.