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in defense of Michael Hayden (and Sally Murphy)
Last Edit: Chazwaza 02:26 pm EDT 04/06/21
Posted by: Chazwaza 02:16 pm EDT 04/06/21
In reply to: re: CAROUSEL - Snowysdad 12:21 am EDT 04/06/21

The 1994 bway revival fo Carousel cast album is my go-to for this show, always.

And it's largely *because* of Michael Hayden and Sally Murphy. Obviously Hayden gets vastly more criticized than Murphy (she is a more skilled singer even if she's not the classical R&H type voice usually in this role) ... but for me, at least on the recording (i can't speak to how he was on any given night live, I've heard he had great nights and awful nights and many falling inbetween, vocally-speaking) his Billy is the best on record* because of the mix of his incredible acting of the role AND his vocals. He's no John Raitt vocally, but *on the album* his voice rises to the role and gives me everything I need for it. He isn't squeaking through it or talking through it - it's powerful and large but also small - his lack of skill coupled with his passion seems to fit perfectly for performing Billy, as that is the character's downfall in many ways. His shakiness as a singer compliments his acting choices, or at least read as acting choices -- and not in a Natasha as Sally Bowles way, because again I still think his voice sounds good and does the singing role justice (I also think that Lansbury AND Remick sound good on the ACW album, and apparently some think I'm wrong so who knows). But it's the mix of what he can manage vocally (which, again, on the album is more than enough) with his acting, how they intermingle and compliment each other so well for the character - I would call his acting fairly revelatory for the role. I've never seen or heard the role acted so well. And that's true for Sally Murphy's Julie too... their acting of those roles and that storyline brought Carousel - an already exceptional musical - to a level I hadn't given it credit for before, largely because of the actors performing the dialogue and lyrics in most previous major productions I'd see/heard.

Every time I listen to their entire bench scene/If I Loved You, his Soliloquy, her Queer One Julie Jordan, her What's the Use of Wondrin' ... I'm astonished. I get them completely, I get the play on levels I didn't before, my heart breaks... it's just so much better, acting wise, than I've heard or seen it before. It managed to be real, believable and grounded in a whimsical high concept production, and it's the perfect balance.

So while I feel for the people seeing it live any given night and getting a weak, or at best mixed vocal performance from Hayden... or even those disappointed in the small mousier voice of Murphy ... I am forever grateful Hayden cast them, and that we have this recording of it.

*caveat, I haven't listened to (or seen) the recent bway revival, so I don't have an assessment of Joshua Henry's performance -- I hadn't heard many amazing things, though given my Hayden stance maybe that should have had me running to buy the album and see for myself. And I will get to it.
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