For years Paul Simon has been promising a musical; now it looks like he’ll be beaten by fellow songwriter and singer Randy Newman. Newman’s “Faust,” an adaptation of the legend set on the Notre Dame campus, will premiere in the fall at the La Jolla Playhouse, staged by new artistic director Michael Greif. At the same time, Warner Bros. Records will release an album of the musical, featuring tracks by James Taylor, Elton John, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt.
That plan is remarkably similar to one also in the works for “The Life,” the long-gestating Cy Coleman-Ira Gasman-David Newman musical about Times Square in the ’70s. An album of songs from that show, recorded by Liza Minnelli, Lou Rawls, Jennifer Holliday and Joe Williams, among others, is well under way for BMG, and Coleman hopes to have it in stores and on the air by the fall.
“We’re trying to introduce the songs in pop versions, and the idea is to get them out there before we do the show,” Coleman says. “Often the casting is contrary to the show.” As an example, he cited “Easy Money,” a number in the show for a young female prostitute. On the album, it’ll be sung by George Burns.