by Steven Suskin
September 2007

this ordinary thursday: The Songs of Georgia Stitt [PS Classics PS-748]
Composer showcase CDs come along frequently, too many to review or even to find time to listen to. Sitting amongst the stack was "this ordinary thursday" (yes, all in lower case), which seemed to call out for attention. Get Carolee Carmello, Susan Egan, Faith Prince and Kelli O'Hara singing your songs — and your record producer to affix a little sticker to the wrapper attesting to the fact — and you're CD is likely to beckon.

The short answer is, absolutely yes! Composer Georgia Stitt was virtually unknown to me, although the name was vaguely familiar as a conductor-arranger. But Stitt is a real theatre composer, no question about that. The songs are rich and deep and intelligent, demanding instant repeat listening. Musically, Stitt holds her own with an original voice and a sometimes surprising turn of melody; her lyrics are personal, intricate and rewarding.

The songs seem to be a mix of theatrical and personal. The aforementioned leading ladies each merit their space on the front-of-the-wrapper sticker; among the best of the best is Ms. Carmello's "Life Is Not a Camera" (which is in the same rarefied class with "Finishing the Hat" and "My Husband Makes Movies"), Ms. Prince's "I Got to Show You the Ocean," and Ms. Egan's "This Ordinary Thursday." (This last happens to be about Ms. Stitt's husband. If you read between the lines, you will realize that he is a composer/lyricist himself, with a Tony Award no less; but that fact is totally coincidental to the excellence of Stitt's songbook.)

It is really impossible to pick and choose among the songs; each claims its own spotlight. Andréa Burns, Matthew Morrison, Jenn Colella, Lauren Kennedy, Cheyenne Jackson, Tituss Burgess, Keith Byron Kirk, Sara Ramirez, Will Chase — that's quite a lineup, in terms of present-day musical theatre talent. Everybody gives especially good performances, the songs glimmer and shine.

Half of the numbers are arranged and accompanied by the songwriter, with small combos. There are a couple of arrangements each from Sam Davis (who composed two of the songs, to Stitt's lyrics) and Jason Robert Brown, and one — that wonderful "Life Is Not a Camera" — with a full-scale orchestration by Don Sebesky.

"this ordinary thursday" contains 12 songs, and leaves you wanting not only more songs but a Georgia Stitt musical as well.