I didn't enjoy nearly anything from the OBC recording of Applause. It sounds extremely dated, the music and lyrics aren't interesting (or even memorable, save the title song, and even then it's only slightly memorable) and there was never a moment that "pulled me in" at all. I listened to it twice, several weeks apart.
HOWEVER, when I read the synopsis and production history of Applause, I was more intrigued: it's based on the same source material that the movie All About Eve was based on, which is, basically, a middle-aged actress being replaced by someone younger. And in this case, SCHEMING and younger. Eve is certainly the worst, but you don't have to be a good person to be successful -- and we all know how "looks" based the entertainment industry is.
So, I really feel that Applause needs to be seen to give it a fair review, and I until that happens (or maybe until I randomly find the script some day), I can't really judge it. Maybe the music works better in context. Maybe I'll find out some day... or maybe I won't.
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Book by Betty Comden and Adolf Green
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