The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz - Original Cast Recording

by Kitty Drexel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday December 8, 2016

The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz - Original Cast Recording

This album "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" is the cast recording of the 2016 remount in Canada. The musical was originally presented in Philadelphia in 1987 at the American Music Theatre Festival. Edits and rewrites prevented it from continuing on to Broadway. After many years of hard work from Menken and Spencer, "The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz" was made ready with a new libretto. It opened at Montreal, Quebec (where the musical is set) at the Segal Center for Performing Arts in 2016.

"The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" is based on the satirical novel of the same name by Canadian author Mordecai Richler. It was adapted for the big screen in 1974, and starred young Richard Dreyfuss as Duddy. The musical is more of a morality tale than it is a satire. Duddy Kravitz (Ken James Stewart) is obsessed with land ownership. He was raised poor, and learned that only money can make a man. His compulsive dream is to own lakefront property. He finds the perfect location to purchase, but the owners won't sell because he's Jewish. His business obsession takes precedence over his private life. Duddy must decide what is more important: Land or family.

David Spencer and Alan Menken wrote "Duddy Kravitz" years before the worked together on 1992's SF musical "Weird Romance." This was before Menken became famous for "The Little Mermaid," but after "Little Shop of Horrors." It was long before Spencer would write "The Musical Theatre Writer's Survival Guide." Despite its many edits, it is possible to hear the greatness both men would achieve.

The character of Duddy is not sympathetic. He's difficult to like, but his musical numbers are easy to enjoy. Stewart has a strong voice that gives life to Menken's music and Spencer's lyrics. "Leaving St. Urbain Street" and "The Final Hustle" are manic tracks that clearly express Duddy's mental health ailments. "I'm Gonna Buy This Lake" is a track that takes itself too seriously at first, but modulates into an easier-to-digest duet between Duddy and his romantic interest/business partner Yvette Durelle (Marie-Pierre de Brienne).

de Brienne has a beautiful voice. "How Could I Not?" and "Welcome Home" are sung with grace and solid intention. Unfortunately, the lyrics are full of stereotypical female love interest tropes. The character Yvette exists only to further Duddy's existence. She's a cherry on the pie, and nothing more.

"The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," is a two-act musical with many short musical numbers. The music may be by Disney great Alan Menken but the libretto by David Spencer is not for children. It presents themes such as anti-Semitism, mental health care, and greed. There is some light cursing, and use of antiquated, period-appropriate racist slurs.

Features to the CD package include an essay on the evolution of "Duddy Kravitz" by Sean Silcoff, award winning journalist and author. Character Max Kravitz has written a blow-by-blow, comedic synopsis with person flourishes. It's accompanied by production photos. It is followed by song transcriptions for each track.

"The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" (Original Cast Recording)

Music by Alan Menken

Lyrics and libretto by David Spencer

Ghostlight Records