The Cast Album for Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Illinoise: A New Musical’ Is Coming Soon

A Pitchfork-celebrated LP from 2005 that crested at No. 121 on the Billboard 200 is unlikely source material for a Broadway musical, but Sufjan Stevens’ career has long defied expectations. Branching out from intimate folk to expansive chamber pop to hypnotic electronica, Stevens’ unpredictable career has seen the singer-songwriter veer into the worlds of moviemaking (both directing and soundtracking), ballet, classical, essay writing and even Christmas music.

Earlier this year, acclaimed choreographer and frequent collaborator Justin Peck brought a stage musical version of Illinois (rechristened Illinoise: A New Musical) to Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory – a fitting enough place for the kind of suggestive, balletic storytelling director/choreographer Peck delivered (he also co-wrote the musical’s book with Jackie Sibblies Drury). But when Illinoise: A New Musical successfully hopped to Broadway shortly thereafter, playing to rave reviews and sold-out crowds, it felt like a new trail was being blazed. Sure, Broadway has always trafficked in nostalgia, and we’ve seen beloved albums (American Idiot, Jagged Little Pill) inspire hit musicals before. Never has an album this uncommercial blossomed into a structurally experimental musical and succeeded with Broadway crowds and critics, nabbing four 2024 Tony nominations, including best musical.

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Now, those who haven’t had the chance to catch it on Broadway – or who have and simply want to relive it – can experience the emotionally charged glory of Illinoise: A New Musical when Nonesuch Records releases the original cast album on May 31.

Ahead of its release, Billboard can share an exclusive preview of two of the songs: “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!” and “Chicago (Reprise).” With Timo Andres providing arrangements that punctuate the songs subtly and expressively, vocalists Elijan Lyons, Shara Nova and Tasha Viets-VanLear are able to offer performances rich with yearning, heartache, hope and tender joy. Lyons, in particular, takes us on a cross-country emotional road trip with “Wasp,” his voice building from dulcet fragility to heartbroken fervor on the nearly seven-minute musical odyssey courtesy an 11-piece band deftly guided by Nathan Koci.

Check them out below.

The cast album is produced by Dean Sharenow, Timo Andres, Nathan Koci, Garth MacAleavey and executive produced by Orin Wolf & Nate Koch. It was edited, mixed and mastered by Sharenow at Steel Cut Audio and Garth MacAleavey served as recording engineer. The album’s band includes Elijah Lyons, Shara Nova, Tasha Viets-VanLear, Christina Courtin, Sean Peter Forte, Domenica Fossati, Daniel Freedman, Kathy Halvorson, Nathan Koci, Eleonore Oppenheim, Brett Parnell, Brandon Ridenour, Kyra Sims and Jessica Tsang.

Illinoise Album Cover
Illinoise Album Cover

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