35MM: A Musical Exhibition
Ryan Scott Oliver is one of the latest wave of composers and lyricists writing for musical theater today. This group has paved its way by writing meaningful songs and posting their cabaret performances on YouTube, targeting collegiate and early career performers looking for unique material to add to their repertoire. Oliver can boast a Lucille Lortel Award nomination, a Jonathan Larson grant, and a Richard Rodgers Award, but is still on the precipice of his "big break." This debut release, however, may be the piece that pushes him over that edge.
"35MM: A Musical Exhibition" is a series of songs based on the work of Oliver’s partner, photographer Matthew Murphy, and the styles that Oliver chooses to display the characteristics of the people inspired by Murphy’s pictures may range from the warped to the dark and diverse, but they are always interesting. From the tale of the demon child’s nanny ("Caralee") to the orgy of "Crazytown" and the high school student who would kill, literally, to be Prom Queen ("The Ballad of Sara Berry"), Oliver’s songs keep us engaged, regardless of whether his musical accompaniments take us down country-tinged roads, gothic, string-laced backgrounds, or straight ahead rock and roll grooves.
Oliver’s music gives the cast of five singers plenty of material to wrap their talents around, and look for their stars to rise as well from their efforts. Jay Armstrong Johnson’s delivers on both the humorous take as the above-mentioned "Manny" of "Caralee" and the Narrator of the abused housewife’s tale, "Leave, Luanne." Lindsay Mendez (recently in the much heralded revival of "Godspell") takes the reigns on the pop tune, "The Party Goes With You" and the psychotic story-song, "The Ballad of Sara Berry." They are joined by Alex Brightman ("Wicked"), Ben Crawford ("Shrek"), and Betsy Wolfe ("Everyday Rapture") to form a talented quintet of vocalists who are more than prepared to tackle the various arrangements created by Oliver.
The enclosed 76-page CD booklet contains all the lyrics, as well as the photographs that provided the imagery for the songs. This is a strong recording by a talent writer, and should present further opportunities for success for both composer and performers.
"35MM: A Musical Exhibition (Original Cast Recording)"
Ryan Scott Oliver
CD and Digital formats