'Always and Forever' ready for another round, with a cast album to boot

​If you loved the original Always and Forever, not only can you relive the experience starting this week at the Illusion Theatre, but you can also have a keepsake from the original company.

The show, set in an urban, African-American barber shop in the 1970s, looks at the trials of love through the songs of the era and the performing talents of Dennis Spears, Julius Collins III, and Jackson Hurst. T. Mychael Rambo, who was part of the original company and sings on the CD from the show, is currently in The Soul of Gershwin at Park Square this season. David Hurst will step into the role for the show's revival.

The original cast recorded a CD of some of the show's music over the summer, which is now available for purchase. The sessions served a dual purpose, says co-creator and music director Sanford Moore.

"We were throwing around ideas on how to market the show, and how it can be done at other venues," Moore says. "One of the issues was that the show requires many musicians, so we thought we should go into the studio and record the tracks. And since we were talking about that, we thought we should also do a cast recording and kill two birds with one stone."

That dual duty made for complex sessions, which were completed over a period of several months. "We were thinking of two different things: How this will work as a backing track and how it will work on the CD," Moore says. "For the vocals, sometimes Dennis would do his on one day and then Jackson the other day, because we didn't always have everyone at the same time."

The sessions were aided by using the same band from the live show. "They had performed the music for upwards of eight weeks. It was really funky and tight," Moore says.

Moore will play along with those backing recordings during the Illusion run, while the past production's keyboard player, David Hurst, moves to the stage, joining his son Jackson in the cast.

The revival is largely the same as the previous production, though a couple of holiday songs have been added to get in the seasonal mood. Beyond that, it's a good time. "For people of that era, they will hear music they haven't heard in a long time," Moore says. "The kids who come along will have an equally good time, even if they aren't familiar with the music. And they can see Mom and Dad dancing in the aisle and singing along. That could be a good or bad thing."


Always and Forever
Illusion Theater
8th Floor, 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Previews Wednesday, opens Thursday
Through January 8, 2012

For information, call 612.339.4944 or visit online.

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