Geppetto is Disney's latest live action musical for TV, following on the heels of Cinderella and Annie. Unlike those first two, Geppetto is a completely original musical ... well almost. It is based in part on Disney's successful animated musical Pinocchio except this time the emphasis is on, as you can guess from the title, Geppetto. By now millions of people have tuned in to see what Geppetto is all about, so there is no need to get into a synopsis of the plot here.
To write the score for Geppetto, Disney turned to composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who has successfully written lyrics for two of Disney's most popular animated musicals. Mr. Schwartz hasn't been too lucky on his own when it comes to writing entire musical scores. In fact, his last two musicals, The Baker's Wife and Children of Eden, were outright failures, though each show has produced more than one cast recording. I sincerely doubt that it was Mr. Schwartz' fault that these shows failed, as they have developed cult followings just on the basis of those original cast recordings. I also doubt that Geppetto will follow suit and develop a cult following. He has, however, turned out a score as good, if not better, than anything that is currently running on Broadway. The score is quite eclectic too. It features good old-fashioned showstoppers, tender ballads, comic numbers, bravura arias and even a tearjerker pop ballad.
Drew Carey is cast as the title character. Carey comes across much better on disc than he did on screen. On screen he was stiff and unemotional. On disc he has a pleasant enough singing voice, which reminded me of Jason Alexander but not nearly as good. In fact, because of the resemblance, I couldn't help but wonder what Mr. Alexander could have done with the role. He probably would have, at the very least, made Geppetto watchable. It's obvious that Mr. Carey was given some help on his upper notes and there are signs that he is straining to reach them, but over all his performance is adequate enough on disc to be enjoyable.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, on the other hand, displays a silky soprano singing voice that is both powerful and lovely with a steady vibrato. I was quite impressed upon first listen and I constantly replay her one solo and reprise. It's unfortunate that she only has one song and Mr. Carey carries most of the score.
In smaller parts are Brent Spiner as Stromboli, who sings the aria "Bravo Stromboli!" with great gusto, and Rene Auberjonois as Buonragazzo, who makes a return to musicals after appearing on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for many years. Seth Adkins, as Pinocchio, is better on screen than he is on this disc. He is much better on his solo (the classic, "I've Got No Strings," from the original animated Pinocchio) than he is on his duet with Drew (“And Son”). For some odd reason a different lead singer than in the film is used on the song Terry Brooks performs the lead on “Pleasure Island” on this disc though a different singer is used in the film.
Geppetto is scheduled for release on VHS on May 30th. I would suggest that, unless your children are adamant, you skip the video and just buy the CD.
That's all for this week. 'Til next time, happy listening!