By now, all the cast recordings from the 2013-2014 season have been released, and there are a lot of good ones this year! But the budget-conscious Broadway fan can’t buy them all, so here’s a handy list of the ones worth checking out.

I’m only considering the ones with entirely brand-new music. And before anyone decries the omission of Aladdin – yes, it did get a Best Score Tony nomination, but most of the worthwhile songs are already available on the movie soundtrack.

#5: ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’

Gentleman’s Guide won the Tony for Best Musical, and that does not happen unless there are some good songs in the show! Most of the songs are comedic in nature, though I feel the comedy stems more from the staging than from the music itself. Still, there are quite a few songs that are worth listening to out of context. Oddly enough, none of the truly memorable tunes are sung by Jefferson Mays, who received all the awards attention for his performance.

The best song is “I’ve Decided to Marry You,” the showstopper that was performed at the Tonys. The murderous protagonist Monty is proposed to by Phoebe D’Ysquith as his mistress Sibella eavesdrops, leading Monty to sing about his difficult choice between the two ladies. The two ladies get a second chance to sing together to great effect in “That Horrible Woman,” where they enact a scheme to spring Monty from jail. Also worth a listen are the funny ensemble numbers that begin each act, “A Warning to the Audience” and “Why Are All the D’Ysquiths Dying?” (Amazon)

#4: ‘The Bridges of Madison County’

The polar opposite of Gentleman’s Guide, there is not a single moment of levity in this romantic drama that won Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations. The music is penned by Jason Robert Brown (13 the Musical). The songs are long and complex, at times almost operatic, and leads Kelli O’Hara (as Francesca) and Steven Pasquale (as Robert) bring a lot of raw emotion to their songs.

The first act of the show was not particularly memorable, and the cast recording reflects that. The only standout in the first half is “Another Life,” a country song sung by the Robert’s ex-wife. The album picks up in the second half, and the last four songs are where you get your money’s worth. The standout is “One Second and a Million Miles,” the romantic duet to end all romantic duets. Beginning softly, the seven-minute song builds to a belting climax that will be sure to give chills.

Pasquale’s eleventh-hour solo, “It All Fades Away,” tells the story of a lifetime of loving from afar, and will be sure to break your heart. The melancholy will stay for the closing song, O’Hara’s “Always Better.” Since Bridges of Madison County had an early demise on Broadway, we should be grateful for this cast album preserving such a beautiful score. (Amazon)

#3: ‘If/Then’

If/Then is from Tony winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey of Next to Normal fame. It’s essentially “Idina Menzel: The Musical,” and the cast album can sit snugly on the shelf next to Wicked and Rent.

The highlights are Menzel’s belty ballads, which showcase an incredible range both vocally and emotionally. Chief among them is “Always Starting Over,” which Menzel performed at the Tonys. Other great songs include “The Moment Explodes” and “Some Other Me” (which also highlights Anthony Rapp). If you want your heart broken, listen to the quiet and emotional “You Learn to Live Without.”

For some much-needed levity, skip back to “What the Fuck?” That song perfectly encapsulates mornings after, with Menzel’s character questioning her poor life choices of the previous night. Though as evidenced by that song title, some of this cast album is not suitable for younger kids, no matter how much they love Queen Elsa. (Amazon)

#2: ‘First Date’

First Date was created by no one you’ve ever heard of, opened the 2013-2014 Broadway season, closed in January, and was promptly forgotten about by Tony season… unless you had the cast album. The score of First Date is in the Wicked style – pop-rock, with a good mix of fun numbers and Broadway ballads. It starred Zachary Levi (Tangled) as Aaron and Krysta Rodriguez (Smash) as Casey, who are on a first date. The ensemble bemoans the perils of dating in “The One” to open the show, and get several fun songs about dating like “The Awkward Pause” and “The Check!”

Casey’s sassy gay friend gets the hilarious “Bailout Song” plus reprises, while Casey’s douchey ex-boyfriends get “That’s Why You Love Me.” Any Jewish listeners will be cracking up during “The Girl For You” – the ghost of Aaron’s grandmother scolds Aaron for dating a non-Jewish girl. Rodriguez and Levi get one true duet and a solo each – the very funny duet is “First Impression.” Rodriguez gets a power-ballad, “Safer;” Levi gets one of the best ever NSFW kiss-off songs to an ex in “In Love With You.”

Lest you think the show is all fun, there is true emotion on display in “The Things I Never Said,” a song from Aaron’s mother that had the entire audience and some of the cast weeping. The First Date cast recording is remarkably consistent in quality – there’s a song now and then that can be skipped, but most of the music is well worth listening to. (Amazon)

#1: ‘Heathers’

Indeed, the best score of the season was not even heard on Broadway, but off-Broadway at the New World Stages. Heathers is an adaptation of the 1980s cult classic – think Mean Girls with a body count. The score is written by Laurence O‘Keefe (Legally Blonde), and is absolutely infectious. It is hilarious, and entirely NSFW, with some very clever rhymes. There is not a single song on the cast album that is not worth listening to over and over; listing them all would be redundant.

“Candy Store” is the biggest earworm, sung by the Heathers to display their bitchiness. The lead characters, Veronica and JD, get three awesome romantic duets: “Freeze Your Brain,” “Our Love Is God,” and “Seventeen.” The score is full of dark reprises, so expect those romantic lyrics to get turned on their heads.

The best song sung during sex since Avenue Q is “Dead Girl Walking,” which shows off impressive vocals (and also gets a dark reprise). For a song to party to, look no further than “Big Fun.” The single funniest song to come out of cast albums this season is “Blue,” a drunken ode to blue balls that will have you laughing out loud and feeling terrible about it. Finally, be ready for the showstopper “My Dead Gay Son,” a very comedic take on homophobic parents learning to love their gay sons. (Amazon)

These five cast albums should tide us over until the next Broadway season begins. Which songs and scores have been your favorites this year?

Barnes & Noble has announced that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is already a gigantic hit. In fact, it’s the most pre-ordered book since Deathly Hallows.

It’s been 9 years since J.K. Rowling publsihed Deathly Hallows in the summer of 2007, but Harry Potter fans are evidently still eager for more stories from the Wizarding World. In a press release on Monday, the biggest book chain in the United States revealed that they haven’t seen pre-orders this huge since the last Harry Potter book.

deathly-hallows-book-cover

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is Barnes & Noble’s most pre-ordered book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and we expect it to be our biggest selling book of the year,” said Mary Amicucci, Chief Merchandising Officer at Barnes & Noble in a press release. “To guarantee that our customers get the new Harry Potter book as quickly as possible, Barnes & Noble is the only national retailer that’s guaranteeing delivery of the book on August 1, for both online and ship-to-home pre-orders placed by noon ET on Friday, July 29. Our booksellers are also preparing to host big crowds for our signature Midnight Magic parties on July 30.”

If you’ve passed by a brick and mortar Barnes & Noble in the past few months you’ve probably seen the heavy promotion they’ve been doing. Headers that state “HARRY POTTER IS BACK” will clearly entice people to pre-order.


HARRY POTTER IS BACK! (Spotted at a Barnes & Noble) #harrypotterforever #harrypotter

A photo posted by Hypable.com (@hypable) on

In a report from the Wall Street Journal earlier this month we learned that Scholastic was printing 4.5 million copies of “the eighth story” for the United States and Canada. This is a far cry from the 12 million printed for Deathly Hallows, but still a very large print run for a book in modern times. (Also worth noting: Many readers have switched to eBooks in the years since Deathly Hallows.)

It’s nice to see that Harry Potter fans haven’t lost their interest in the series. Perhaps the success will inspire J.K. Rowling to continue writing within Harry’s world?

The book has also been a huge success on Amazon. The Cursed Child has sat at the top of the online retailer’s bestseller list for months.

Hypable will have lots of coverage surrounding The Cursed Child once it’s released this weekend. Stay tuned! AHHHH!

Sherlock finally made it to Hall H at Comic-Con and the creative team brought a few surprises. Steven Moffatt, Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Abbington, and Benedict Cumberbatch were on hand to the thrill of fans.

Benedict Cumberbatch and crew definitely know how to work a crowd. Here are the top highlights of the panel that played to a crowd of thousands.

1. Season 4

They are currently two weeks from finishing Sherlock season 4. Cumberbatch said that “a lot comes home to roost this season… it’s ballsy.”

They have 26 pages to film this Tuesday. Cumberbatch states that the monologues are very challenging and take a lot of work.

As for actors’ favorite lines this season:

Gatiss: “Sherlock.”

Abington: Not a line but a beckoning gesture.

Cumberbatch: Can’t say.

Key names for next season (change from doing key words):

  • Moffat: Smith
  • Gatiss: Thatcher
  • Vertue: Sherinford

2. Keeping the show fresh

By not making as many episodes, the creators feel they actually keep the quality. They joked that under normal standards they’ve actually made about half a season of a standard TV show, or 13 episodes.

There are no plans for any other Victorian Era shows. Moffat feels that it would be less interesting if the mind palace returned there.

3. Learning curves and drugs

Gatiss stated that with 90-minute episodes you “really have to put [Sherlock and Watson] through the ringer.” Moffat added that because of this, Watson has to evolve. Watson can’t keep being amazed by Sherlock. As for Sherlock, “he can’t be the weird scary amoral man we met in the first episode… geniuses learn… he has to learn.”

Sherlock’s drug addiction comes back when he is not working. It’s hinted that the addiction will be a bigger issue this season than in the past.

4. The coat and the hair

There is apparently a big debate every year over changing the iconic coat. Sue Vertue wants to change it, and Steven Moffat wants to keep it. Benedict Cumberbatch dove into the debate stating, “I’m quite hung up on the coat…. but sometimes it has to come off.” The audience reaction was predictable.

Cumberbatch joked that he loved playing Sherlock in the Victorian era because of the slicked back hair. In the modern era it takes forever for his hair to get done. On a serious note, he loved the more straight-laced, clipped version of Sherlock.

5. First ‘Sherlock’ season 4 trailer

The teaser trailer featured this phrase over and over: “Something’s coming. It may be Moriarity, maybe not.” Literally every character we know and love looks like they are scared, angry, or worried on an epic scale.

One of the best moments is Mrs. Hudson saying with supreme venom to Mycroft, “Get out of my house you reptile.” Watch below:

6. Improv and family

There is actually, according to Cumberbatch, very little improvisation on set. It’s about how to do what’s there, and not messing with the script. He firmly believes that what is there is what is needed for the show.

Cumberbatch genuinely loves having his mom and dad play his TV mom and dad. Every now and then he can see his mother struggle to call him “Sherlock” and not “Ben.”

7. Mary in the know

Abbington didn’t know she was an assassin until well into the last season. When she found out, she told partner Martin Freeman, “My God, [the fans] are going to hate me.” Despite this, she loves the flawed characters of the series.

8. When will the series return?

No date was given for either the BBC release date or the PBS release date. We only know that it will premiere in 2017.

9. The dog photo

According to Cumberbatch the dog (depicted above) was a nightmare. “The dog wouldn’t fucking move,” he said. The companion was supposed to drag Sherlock all over London, but the dog didn’t like people, concrete, crowds… really anything about an urban setting.

Moffat and Gatiss resorted to writing a new scene on the spot to account for the lack of the dog’s interest in roaming. According to Gatiss all it did was drool on the concrete.

10. Future seasons?

Touching on the future of the series, Moffat stated, “Why is everybody assuming they survive season 4?” Gatiss joked, “We’re skipping season 5 and doing season 6.”

Moffat clarified that — contrary to recent reports — he never said that this season would be the last one (He’s right: All he said was the schedules of Cumberbatch and Freeman are only getting more difficult to work with). Gatiss added that they want to do more seasons, and they hope that they are able to.

Sherlock will be back in 2017. What do you think of the first season 4 trailer?

Marvel presented at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday evening and offered new looks at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and more.

“We only want to come to Hall H when we have a lot to show you,” teased Marvel’s Kevin Feige at the start of the panel. Indeed, they had a ton to offer — including news of a new Marvel theme park attraction!

Everything we’ve learned at Marvel’s SDCC panel

  1. Marvel kicked off their panel with a new logo and updated fanfare by composer Michael Giacchino.

  2. Black Panther had some casting news to share: Lupita N’yongo will be playing one of the guards at Wakanda named Nakia. Meanwhile, Michael B. Jordan will be playing Erik Killmonger. We also received brand new casting news: Danai Gurira has joined the movie — She’ll play Okoye, head of Dora Milaje! Finally, a new logo for the film was revealed:

    black-panther-logo-sdcc-2016

  3. Thor: Ragnarok unveiled a behind-the-scenes look at the new film which included a look at Cate Blanchett as Hela. They also showed a documentary-style clip (think The Office) explaining where Hulk and Thor were during the events of Captain America: Civil War! In it, Thor had a tiny bed for Mjolnir and a crime board that tried to connect the Infinity Stones and discover their purpose. There is also mugshot of Loki. Like Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok had a new logo to show off with a retro looking subtitle:

    thor-ragnorak-new-logo-sdcc-2016

  4. Doctor Strange’s portion of the panel kicked off with a smoke and laser show to introduce Benedict Cumberbatch.

    Tilda Swinton was also at the panel and spoke about the Ancient One. “The truth is, anyone can be The Ancient One,” she said. A clip from Doctor Strange was also showed in which Steven Strange meets Tilda’s character (It won’t be online).

  5. Thankfully, a brand new and wholly epic Doctor Strange trailer was released. Watch below:

    A new poster was also unveiled:

    doctor-strange-sdcc-poster

  6. Next up was Spider-Man: Homecoming. Director Jon Watts described the film as a high school movie about a 15-year-old Peter Parker who’s in the 10th grade. A new clip was unveiled and had a strong John Hughes vibe — Peter Parker is just your average high schooler trying to get through the day. There was also this great moment:

  7. Next up: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which kicks off a few months after the first movie. The entire cast was there to introduce a new scene in which a very adorable Baby Groot helps Yondu and Rocket break out of prison. Baby Groot even has a little outfit! Adorably, the Ravengers — who captured Yondu and Rocket — refuse to hurt Baby Groot because of how cute he is.

    This movie got a new logo as well.

    guardians-of-the-galaxy-sequel-new-logo

  8. Speaking of Marvel’s space dramedy, the studio also confirmed rumors of a Guardians of the Galaxy theme park attraction. It’s called Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and debuts Summer 2017 at Disneyland’s California Adventure theme park. Sadly, it’s replacing the classic Tower of Terror ride. Check out a behind the scenes video of the attraction:

  9. Marvel ended their panel by confirming that Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel, as was previously rumored. She took the stage to say hi to the adoring audience, and participated in a giant Marvel selfie:

All in all, Marvel had a ton to share. What do you think of all the developments?