From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Sandy Hook
Songs By: Various Artists
Distributed By: Broadway Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
On December 14, 2012, the unthinkable happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A gunman entered the school and, with no apparent motive, proceeded to fire his weapons, killing twenty children and six adults. The tragedy affected everyone, especially because the majority of lives taken were children, just getting started in life and mowed down long before their prime.
On January 28, 2013, a number of Broadway performers, composers, musicians and more came together to perform a benefit concert for Sandy Hook. Taking place at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut, the concert for healing starred over one hundred Broadway stars together with over 300 students from several Newtown dance groups, the Sandy Hook Elementary School 3rd and 4th grades (2012/2013 school year) and the Newtown High School Chamber Choir (2012/2013 school year). In February 2014, Broadway Records released From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Sandy Hook on DVD, Blu-Ray. as a two-CD set and as a two volume digital iTunes download, with one hundred percent of the profits from the DVD, Blu-Ray and CD to be donated to the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation. I was recently sent the album for review.
Featuring twenty-five songs performed in Broadway shows and the Sandy Hook School Song performed by the 3rd and 4th graders, the CD represents numerous genre of music from rock to pop to gospel and more. Many of the performers names will be very recognizable to those who follow Broadway - names like Michael Cerveris, the Sesame Street Performers, Christine Ebersole, Richard Kind, Micky Dolenz, Nikki Blonsky and more. The music featured can be heard in such well-known shows as Sister Act, Rent, Godspell, Wicked, The Jungle Book, Show Boat, Chicago, West Side Story, Shrek: The Musical, Hairspray and more.
When I first listened to this album, I wasn't certain I understood the message the performers were trying to put forth. Starting off with Seasons of Love from Rent was an excellent choice, discussing the fact that moments in life are precious and should be filled with love. The Sandy Hook School Song was a no-brainer. But then we followed with Beautiful City and I was stumped. What did this song have to do with what happened here? Okay, next was Defying Gravity from Wicked and although I thought this a good choice as a sort of defiant I'm going to survive anything you can throw at me sort of song, I found that the song was way out of the league of the performer. Don't get me wrong, Julia Murney has a nice voice. It's just not made to hit all of the high notes in Defying Gravity.
As the album moved forward, I struggled to find meaning in the songs...until I thought about it. This is a concert for healing. Yes, there will be some songs dedicated to the lost loved ones and some that will be about overcoming the seemingly impossible grief, but the concert was also about lifting the spirits of the families in Newtown as well as providing some much needed entertainment to the community. That was when I began to see the value of the song arrangement on the album.
I can't say I thoroughly loved the album - sounds heartless when speaking about a benefit concert, doesn't it. But I can't lie and I found that some of the renditions of the songs on Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Sandy Hook were a little off. That being said, there are enjoyable tracks worth checking out. As for whether you should buy Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Sandy Hook - hello! One hundred percent of the CD, DVD and Blu-Ray profits go to the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation - definitely a no brainer!