Warm Spring Night
Philip Chaffin is owner and operator of one of those great, big voices that, reminiscent of John Raitt, Alfred Drake and, more recently, David Kernan (to whom Chaffin is nearly an identical vocal twin), can fill every nook, cranny and rafter-high crevice of a Broadway palace. Like the vast majority of theatrically trained singers, the Louisiana-born Chaffin is incontrovertibly disciplined about the way he presents a tune--no improvising, no sudden ad-libs, no coloring outside the lines.
Also like many a Broadway belter, Chaffin is a keen musical-theater scholar and, as such, sidesteps safe, predictable fare in favor of some delectable surprises. In addition to the underappreciated title tune and "When in Love," both drawn from Alan Menken and Tim Rice's score for King David (in which Chaffin starred), there's the Gershwin brothers' rare, tender "Evening Star" and a clever combo of Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh's "You've Come Home" from Wildcat with the conversely titled "You're Far Away From Home," cut from the same production. Most gratifying is John Kander's early-career "There's a Room in My House," cowritten with siblings James and William Goldman for director Hal Prince's first Broadway show, 1962's A Family Affair, a meditative confection in the tradition of "The Folks Who Live on the Hill."