Saturday, December 6, 2014


When I was sent this album to review, I was a bit nervous about it. It looked like everything I'd dislike in a musical theatre album. Not only was the list of songs full of material that I'm not particularly fond of, but to top of off, sung by two young girls I'd never heard of before.

Young performers can be dicey. We forgive their shortcomings because, of course, they're kids. I didn't want this to be an album full of things I'd have to overlook.

Luckily, it isn't. I'm pretty floored by the talented Millie and Abigail Shapiro. They surprised me. Big time.

These sisters, ages 11 and 13, already have some pretty serious accomplishments under their belts. Millie played Matilda on Broadway in rotation with three other young actors, and was a Tony Honoree for Excellence in Theatre for her performance. Abigail played the leading role of Cindy-Lou Who in the Madison Square Garden production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

And boy, can they both sing. They have young-sounding instruments, of course. They are young. But as musical theatre interpreters they both exhibit a startling maturity. Never is their work saccharine sweet. Never do they play up their cuteness. These are two young actors and singers to take seriously.

The choice of material is more than fitting too. Full of musical theatre solos and duets for both to shine in, the songs range from pieces by Jeanine Tesori to Andrew Lippa to Jule Styne to Henry Krieger, from shows like A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Shrek, Gypsy, Annie, Wicked, and Side Show. The songs let The Shapiro Sisters show off all colours of their voices and acting chops. We get tickled by their work on a mash-up of What Is This Feeling? and Popular from Wicked, and they find emotional integrity in I Will Never Leave You from Side Show. Their voices are dynamic throughout, their harmonies crisp.

If you've found yourself shying away from, or avoiding, albums featuring talent as young as The Shapiro Sisters, look no further than this album for a terrific example of this kind of concert recording done right. And keep looking for these immensely talented young ladies, whose gifts, I'm sure, will carry forth into their adults years as well. Get ready to hear a lot from Millie and Abigail Shapiro.

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