Over the Moon, the Broadway Lullaby Project

Written by:
Lewis Whittington
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Lullabies for Broadway Babies

“Over the Moon”
The Broadway Lullaby Project
26 song album (2-CD set)

It’s never too early to introduce your little ones to show tunes, not to mention the great voices of American musical theater. But, “Rose’s Turn” (not to mention “Wicked”) can be a bit scary in the nursery. Instead there is “Over the Moon,” a two-disc collection of new lullabies by a stellar lineup of Broadway singers including Audra McDonald, Donna Murphy, Vanessa Williams, Christiane Noll, Anika Noni Rose, Brian D’Arcy James and a dozen others.

There is a companion e-book and documentary film, all part of the Broadway Lullaby Project that raises funds for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation andYoung Survival Coalition. The book features 17 songs from the album, with the lyrics illustrated by some of America’s most esteemed theatrical designers and children’s book illustrators.

This is an interactive musical world, full of simple melodies, magical images, quiet emotions, goofy fun, but most of all the beautiful voices of Broadway. Lulling definitely, but musically, there are plenty of reasons to stay awake for this song cycle that reminds that no matter how scary the world gets, show ballads are a tonic in perilous times.

How intoxicating is Maury Yeston’s “Winding Down to Sleep (Lullaby with No Words)” with Gil Goldstein’s bistro piano and a dreamy accordion floating around and la, la scales by Luke Kolbe Mannikus. Musical magic that would stop a charging lion and even your over-tired possum. Maybe the Mozart effect was in mind for Tim Kitt’s “First Sonogram” the fanciful baroque line of Kathleen Tagg’s piano and Peter Sachon’s cello.

We can all swoon to Caesar Samayoa carousel waltz “Over the Moon” and Marva Hicks’ “Little Sleepy Eyes” or Raul Esparza’s serene, heroic baritone on Michael Freidman’s “This Little World.” How can you not love the “Onesie,” with lyrics by B.D. Wong and lilting jazz piano by Gil Goldstein about the biggest miracle looking at the world even though they are too small for the “tiniest onesie of all.” Scott Alan‘s “Look (a Rainbow)” sings the quiet wish of a world where no one sees your differences) or the message of Stephen Sondheim’s “It Takes All Kinds.”

Not everything is sweetness, though. There’s David Shire’s ode to dad awake at 4 a.m/ feeding time in “A Father’s Lullaby” with a cranky daddy vocal by Marc Kudisch. Tony Kushner wrote the tale of “Yolanda” (my gypsy queen/ you sail to visit the Argentine, my mariner lady) and sung with shimmering soprano Judy Kuhn to Ricky Ian Gordon‘s piano accompaniment.

Jazz pianist Fred Hersch engages in a sumptuous dialogue with cellist Dave Eggar on Marisa Michelson’s “All New” that has the feeling of a show tune classic and sung with arresting drama by Nikki M. James. Then everyone gets to melt as the Glucksman kids (Tillie, Keegan and Zi) tell us about “The Man Who Invented Ice Cream” by way of Sammy Cahn. What a treat. Now say g’night T, K and Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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