Monday, December 14, 2009


God bless ya Peter!
You're the best!

"CDs? Let me recommend one by Donna Lynne Champlin. The noted singer-actress found she had an extra $1,000 to spend. (After all, she is making a Broadway salary each week in Billy Elliot: The Musical.) She could have rented one of those newly refurbished rooms at the Plaza Hotel for a night. Or she could have bought a business class flight to France on a minor airline that needs the business. Or she could have gone to Sofrito and had Chef Ricardo Cardona’s famous $1,000 paella, replete with black truffles, sea scallops, baby squid, baby eel, mussels, cherrystone clams, king crab legs, mini-chorizo sausages, octopus, lobster tails, and prawns. 

But the room, the flight, and the meal would have been gone in no time. So Champlin decided to spend the money and the time doing something that would last substantially longer: A solo CD. 

Could it really be accomplished for $1,000? Champlin knows how expensive renting space is. Carnegie Hall, where she appeared in Very Warm for May, was definitely out. So were the studios where she recorded My Life with Albertine. And while Champlin wanted instrumentation to accompany her, she didn’t need to hire musicians. As her many fans know from her stint in John Doyle’s Sweeney Todd, Champlin can play piano, flute, accordion, among other instruments. So she’d lay down the instrumental tracks, and then start singing. 

In her bathroom. But as the best artists can tell you, acoustics tend to be quite wonderful in the bathroom. 

Given Champlin’s theater-centric career – she’s won an Obie – she’d included many off-the-beaten-track theater songs that don’t get their due, from First Lady Suite, The Blue Flower, Love, Jerry, Das Barbecu, The Last 5 Years, and The Zero Club. Considering that Champlin had a Broadway success with Hollywood Arms, she acknowledged Hollywood, too: Songs from films as far back as Modern Times to such recent entries asAnastasia, A Walk to Remember, and Toy Story. Rounding out the disc are ditties from songwriters ranging from Stephen Foster to Kate McGarrigle, with a traditional Irish tune to boot. 

Here’s the result: Old Friends, the album that Champlin was able to do for one grand -- and the result is one grand album. CDs are $15. ($18 including shipping and handling) Old Friends is available on cdbaby,, and itunes."