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News & Reviews:FRANC D'AMBROSIO
TALKINGBROADWAY.COM
By: Ann Minor
Can you imagine playing the title character in The Phantom Of The Opera for more than six years? Doing so in San Francisco and on tour, Franc D'Ambrosio holds that record and now he has a new record of his own - filled mostly with standards from the musical theatre. D'Ambrosio is a trained theatre singer singing in a straightforward Broadway style, not trying to jazz it up, radically reinterpret, or play studio pop singer. No tricks or gimmicks. However, with overexposed warhorses like "This Is The Moment" (Jekyll And Hyde) and two versions (one partially in French) of "Bring Him Home" (Les Miserables), one might wish for an unexpected twist or turn in tempo, phrasing or arrangement. Nevertheless, D'Ambrosio sings with conviction, control and care and his high baritone-tenor has power and a distinctive timbre.

The recording has a few nice musical touches, such as (uncredited) musical quotes from other songs: hearing the familiar beginning of Sondheim's "Another Hundred People" brings a new perspectitve to the otherwise light "Lullaby Of Broadway"; likewise, a reprise of that tune serves as an intro to Sondheim's own "Lullaby Of Broadway," "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd (D'Ambrosio appeared in the 1989 Broadway revival). Solo cello lines on a few tracks are especially effective.

This being his first solo CD, the singer plays catch-up and includes his big song from Copacabana, in which he toured; the theme from The Godfather, as he played the opera-singing son in Part III; and the operatic "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" as performed recently in the Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular. And yes, of course, this Phantom does include the inevitable "Music Of The Night" and certainly doesn't sound bored with it. More credit to him!

The most fun cut on the album is a big, fat, juicy medley of nine showstoppers from Bob Fosse-choreographed shows. This CD may not win any prizes for originality, but if you want a big helping of big Broadway ballads with a big, beautiful belt, Franc D'Ambrosio's Broadway will do the job nicely.