Guest Blog: Christiane Noll on Recording Chaplin: The Musical
Today we have a special treat with Tony-nominated Christiane Noll writing about her experience recording the album Chaplin: The Musical. Chaplin is now available for purchase on CD and digital download.
The excitement of being in a Broadway show occurs on so many levels: working in NYC, home to many of us! Becoming part of the Broadway community! But an early question in everyone’s mind is, “Will the show get recorded??” We were all so thrilled when we found out that David Lai at Masterworks Broadway was going to record and produce the Original Broadway Cast recording of CHAPLIN! That’s a little piece of theater history that we were now all a part of!
Recording a cast album (can I still call it an album?) is a daunting but thrilling task. Time is the biggest challenge. So much planning is done and care taken before hand to make sure the big day goes smoothly. Our production stage manager, Kim Vernace and our music director, Bryan Perri, worked together to reduce our 2½-hour show to fit onto 1 CD. That’s not all that easy. Dialog was rewritten where necessary and a schedule was created. Timing is everything because we had to do the whole thing with musicians in one day! That’s a lot of music! One take wonders, those who can perform their song in one shot, are valued! Thank you Jenn Colella! They made her sing “All Fall Down” twice, though, just to make sure they had it. She didn’t need that second take!! When you listen to that showstopper, know she just turned it on!!
Even though theater performers are used to doing the show every night – in one take — it’s a luxury to just stand there a sing, although it can be a little confusing at times. I know I remember my words not just by what I’m thinking or feeling but also by where I am standing or what I am doing or looking at. When the stage and those things are not there it’s easy to forget where you are. You wouldn’t think we’d need a script, since we do the show every night but I was grateful to look at the words so I didn’t mess up!
Recording day is the first time since rehearsal that the entire performing company is in the same room and able to watch and listen to each other. I think we all loved that!! I enjoyed seeing the musicians play. We don’t get that opportunity because the orchestra is locked up in a room under the stage. We rarely see them! This is a particularly supportive and positive company and everyone was so excited to be there and so proud of each other. I think we all sounded amazing and as a result David Lai was able to keep the day moving at a nice clip!
I am especially proud of Rob McClure! He was having a bit of an out of body experience that day, I think! A dream realized!! I knew him when he was 19 and to be honest he hasn’t changed a bit! He is still just as enthusiastic, driven, inquisitive, passionate, loving, fearless and joyous as ever! Somehow that all was captured in his performance! He was scheduled to finish after 10pm, starting at 10 in the morning! I think he would have sung until 2am. He was on cloud 9!
The result was, if I may be so presumptuous, fantastic! I think it sounds wonderful! Really captures the energy that we brought to the Barrymore Theater every night! I am so proud I was a part of this company and that although the show has now closed, people all over the world will be able to experience a little bit of what we created together!
– Christiane Noll