Miss Spectacular, the concept album, was recorded in 1999. The CD includes a plot synopsis, informing us that the show concerns the adventures of Sarah Jane Hotchkiss, a simple girl from Kansas (just like Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie) who goes to Las Vegas in hopes of winning a contest and becoming spokesperson for the Hotel Spectacular. Most of the songs are the heroine's fantasies, triggered by her susceptibility to the clanging sound of slot machines paying off.

Miss Spectacular features nine songs, eight of them new; the one that Christine Baranski handles so smoothly, "I Wanna Live Each Night," was sung during the tryout of The Grand Tour but cut prior to Broadway. The 45-minute disc is filled out with an overture, exit music, and some reprises.
Debbie Gravitte is at her most vocally assured as the girl from Kansas, and breezes through two of the best songs, the opening "Miss What's Her Name," and a title tune composed in Herman's trademark style.

Karen Morrow sounds grand in the lovely "No Other Music," Davis Gaines croons the pretty "My Great Dream," and the Grand Tour song is quite catchy. Of the lesser items, Faith Prince has the comic "Where in the World Is My Prince?" (Nancy Dussault performed it in Tap Your Troubles Away, last fall's LA Actors Fund Herman salute); Steve Lawrence gets a smooth tribute to "Las Vegas" that includes a reference to "Steve and Eydie" (the pair starred in their own Vegas musical, Golden Rainbow); and Michael Feinstein delivers a sinuous paean to a "Ziegfeld Girl." The chorus gets the salute to heroine "Sarah Jane."

"A distinct throwback to a mostly vanished Broadway sound, the disc demonstrates that Herman is still capable of writing instantly accessible and appealing songs. For now, this CD is the only way to sample this new material by one of our top musical theatre pros." - -Ken Mendelbaum,


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