I think that we should refer to the times before these global lockdowns as the new BC (to stand for “before covid”) because there has been a massive shift in how people have been living due to the guidance that has given. One of my favourite things to do in BC was to travel to different countries to learn about culture/history etc. While doing all the tourist things are always great fun, it’s this real and authentic experience of how the people of the place live and what has influenced these choices. In Sumer 2019, I spent 5 weeks in Hungary where two of the weeks were spent with a Hungarian family who submerged me into the language and introduced me to some key traditions/values which was a much more effective way to be educated than say going to a museum for example.
Peach Boy is a demo cast recording with music by Phil Lina and book/lyrics by Tony Pinizzotto which is based on the 200-year-old Japanese fairytale of Momotarō: The Peach Boy. The story documents the story of a Japanese couple who pray for a baby and after finding a peach in a local stream discover a body inside the fruit. They name the baby Momotarō who through the show falls in love with a Hoseki. The character develops a desire to become the worlds hero and to do so much he must conquer the evil ogre king Oni. This portrayal of a classic myth is combined with contemporary music in a very clever way. The music contains the inclusion of Classical Japanese musical motifs to keep the idea that this story is a historic myth that was enjoyable to listen to.
This album is comprised of 18 musical tracks that are generally more subdued and emotional driven than I am used to but it fits the mythical ideas that the show itself is based on which shows the creative team had thought about the music in relation to the story. The overture track in this album did everything that any opening number should do. It is an 8-minute track that travels through musical genres and generally introduces the story to the listeners. The song musically builds up and draws back that creates a wonderful sense of excitement/mystery which is perfect for an opening number, the range of timbre and styles does help the song move a lot quicker as it is an 8 minutes song that could have dragged but due to the variation this was avoided! The song “my world of honour” was a wonderfully beautiful song that was performed by Phillip Alimon who is a very talented vocalist. This track talks about the traditional ideas of honour, respect and almost and chivalry that is associated with the idea of gentlemen culture. The song is structure as a homage to ideas of classical musical theatre and emotional ballads which was very beautiful to listen to. “Your New Best Friend” is one of the more upbeat tracks in the show with is a duet between Phillip Alimon and Mike Estrada whose voices blended flawlessly. The jovial vibe of this song contrasts with the lyrics relating to the violent act of killing the ogre. Another duet that I found particularly moving was the song “where you came from” which was performed by Keiko Clark and Jennifer Strattam. This song is almost an ode to motherhood that reminds people to never let go of their cultural history or family background. Something I can not remember seeing on a concept album before was an instrumental track. The song “fighting the ogre” is a song that contains no lyrics but is so wonderfully dramatic which I loved. I hope that when staged live this number has very dramatic and high energy choreography that lives up to the atmosphere created by the orchestra. This song was followed by “Cherry Blossom” drew back on the dramatic nature to help make the previous song even more impactful!
Overall, this is a piece of an incredibly ornate and pretty musical that is a contemporary portrayal of a classic Japanese myth. If this done appropriately, this could be a show that educated people of Japanese culture and may help to reduce the current rise in Asian hate that the world is currently experiencing. I would rate this cast recording 4 out of 5 stars!