Bed Hopping:
A Review of An Unmade Bed Cast Recording

by Tony Phillips

One lyricist and 18 different composers result in what HGTV would call “a very busy bedroom,” but out wordsmith Mark Campbell maintains consistency across a multitude of melodies with snarky lyrics that attack everything from the size queen’s lament of “An Admission” — “I recall my disappointment/On first seeing you nude/An admission I admit that could be/Badly misconstrued” — to the more abstemious downfall of the loner singing “Here In My Bed” about his “death by saltine.”

Songs From An Unmade Bed opened last season at The New York Theatre Workshop — the downtown incubator of such lavender Broadway hits like Rent — and ran for a limited, but well-received run. The show took a simple story — single, gay New Yorker rolls around his outsized bed for a song cycle detailing the ups and downs romance in the big city — but told it in a variety of musical styles showcasing composers as diverse as Jack Heggie and his old school Broadway number “The Other Other Woman” to new guard showman Duncan Sheik.

On the song “Oh, to Be Stupid Again,” pop troubadour ‘come burgeoning show queen Duncan Sheik takes one more giant step toward Sandy Duncan, following up his musical Spring Awakening with this moody tuner that rues the loss of youth and its headlong rush into love. Campbell matches the downbeat sprinkle of piano and strings with probably his most ingenious rhyme on the record, pairing “gushing geyser” with Franz Schubert’s own 17th century song cycle about a single man who freezes to death entitled Die Winterreise.

While most theatrical recordings suffer from a lack of the visual, a lazy afternoon in the boudoir wearing boxers and lolling around your own unmade bed provides all the verisimilitude of actually seeing this show. Of course, the one thing this disc can’t provide is someone in the seat — or even the unmade bed — next to you, but it will offer sound counsel after he’s gone.