Off Broadway

September 3, 2007

My partner has XM Radio in his car, and it generally makes for amusing channel surfing. There are black clouds on the satellite radio horizon, though. The darkest is the On Broadway channel.

I’m a big musical geek, but man, is the On Broadway programming bad. With decades of likable music to add to the rotation, the On Broadway sadists seem focused entirely on the deservedly obscure, shows that bombed for reasons that become intuitively obvious when you hear parts of their score.

Equally irritating is their tendency to pick flop songs from good shows, numbers that you skip over while listening to the CD either because they aren’t up to the rest of the score’s standard or because they don’t really work in recorded form, relying on stage business. Middling orchestrations that serve well enough when a bunch of people are dancing don’t really make the cut for listeners who just want to stay awake while driving through southwestern Pennsylvania. But On Broadway loves them and plays them all the time.

Then there are the revival recordings of shows made famous by the original cast. Like Mandy Patankin and Bernadette Peters in Sunday in the Park with George? Hold on to those fond memories and change the channel quickly before you hear any of the version On Broadway is playing.

I really don’t know what their standards are. I suspect that they sit with a stack of CDs and try and find the numbers that would make you decide to sneak out to the bathroom if you were seeing the show live.