Revues

As Thousands Cheer

It was the Depression era version of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and THE DAILY SHOW. Moss Hart's sketches were sharp, witty and hilarious and Irving Berlin's songs ranged from wry to satiric to poignant. Their inspiration? The newspaper headlines of the day, from affairs to society photos and advice to the lovelorn; even comic strips and the weather report were fair game! A cast that included Clifton Webb, Ethel Waters and Marilyn Miller impersonated the likes of Joan Crawford, the Hoovers, John D. Rockefeller, Mahatma Gandhi and Josephine Baker for over 400 performances beginning in September of 1933. Considered a masterpiece of that specialized genre known as the topical revue, AS THOUSANDS CHEER inspired some of Harts best solo work as a comedy writer and afforded Berlin the opportunity to pen some of the greatest musical gems.

Beguiled Again

The remarkable partnership of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart spanned twenty-four years, resulting in the scores for thirty stage musicals and nine films. While their songs are acknowledged as among the most sophisticated and witty of their time, they could also be stunning in their simplicity and directness. BEGUILED AGAIN illuminates the astonishing breadth of their output with a musical menu offering nearly fifty selections from the incomparable Rodgers and Hart songbook. This cleverly compiled potpourri juxtaposes the urbane and the melancholy, the sardonic and the romantic, providing ever-changing and contrasting emotional journeys that give this revue real momentum. There is no linear plot or 'and then they wrote' narrative. Rather, the songs are grouped thematically in ways that allow them to tell their own stories and reveal their splendor in the process. Variety and vigor have always been the Rodgers and Hart hallmarks. Perhaps their illustrious compeer, Irving Berlin (who also knew a thing or two about songwriting) summed it up best with his famous maxim: 'Tuneful and tasty, schmaltzy and smart - music by Rodgers, lyrics by Hart.'

A Class Act

AThe Tony Award winning lyricist of A CHORUS LINE was hell-bent on writing both the words and music for a Broadway show, a goal unrealized in 1987 when he died of cancer at the age of 48. Only posthumously would Ed's songs garner the acclaim they always deserved, in the biographical musical A CLASS ACT. Ed got his start in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop where he largely amasses the charismatic songbook that has been arranged in A CLASS ACT to dramatize Ed's often hilarious, ultimately heartbreaking journey. An ensemble of 7 inhabit the colorful gallery of friends and loved ones in Ed's life including the legendarily acerbic Lehman Engle, the relentlessly peppy Marvin Hamlisch, and Über-creative Michael Bennett. Fourteen years after his death, one of the theater's unsung champions finally got the recognition he always deserved in this vibrant musical about musicals.

The Decline and Fall...Eyes of Cole Porter

Ben Bagley, the proven master of revue, has concocted a tongue-in-cheek historic cavalcade from the rare jewels of Cole Porter's vast musical treasure trove. The 'world' under scrutiny is that between 1919 and 1945 when, indeed, some considerable declining and falling went on. Here, the generally unsuspected meanings behind many of Porter's songs indicate that during times of chaos and destruction, he saw the world with an impudent, highly sophisticated and indomitably euphoric gaze. Porter created a world of his own through his songs, and made ours richer in the process.

Free to Be... You and Me

Marlo Thomas conceived a children's book that, instead of telling boys and girls who they should be, would open them to the possibilities of who they could be. She gathered many of her supremely talented friends from various worlds of the arts and the remarkable result is highly regarded as a modern classic of children's literature. Life-enhancing themes are imaginatively blended with music and humor to expand children's personal horizons, enabling them to invent their own futures without limitation, while dispelling some old constraints and worn-out conventions in the process. Parents, teachers and other grown-up friends will delight in sharing this extraordinary and memorable experience with the children in their lives.

A Grand Night for Singing

Taste and imagination, the two key ingredients for a first-rate revue, abound in this fresh take on the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon conceived by Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie. Over three decades after the duo's final collaboration, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, took the Great White Way by storm, it was in fact this new R&H musical that opened the 1994 Broadway season with flair and distinction, garnering wildly enthusiastic notices as well as earning two Tony nominations, including Best Musical. Here at R&H, our founding fathers probably never imagined 'Shall We Dance?' as a comic pas de deux for a towering beauty and her diminutive admirer, nor did they suspect that one day a lovelorn young lad might pose the musical question, 'How do you solve a problem like Maria?' But that's precisely the kind of invention lavished upon this new revue, with innovative musical arrangements including a sultry Andrews Sisters-esque 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair,' a swingin' 'Honeybun' worthy of the Modernaires, and a jazzy 'Kansas City' which leaves no question about how terrifically up to date the remarkable songs of R&H remain.

I Love a Piano

I LOVE A PIANO is the celebration of the music and lyrics of Irving Berlin. It follows the journey of a piano as it moves in and out of American lives from the turn of the century to the present. Along the way, the story comes to vibrant life with over sixty of Irving Berlin's most beloved songs, including classics such as 'Blue Skies,' 'There's No Business Like Show Business,' 'Puttin' on the Ritz,' 'Cheek to Cheek,' 'Always,' 'How Deep is the Ocean,' 'Anything You Can Do,' 'God Bless America,' and, of course, 'I Love a Piano.' Alternately heartbreaking and hilarious, rousing and reflective, I LOVE A PIANO is a fitting tribute to the man Jerome Kern famously said had 'no place in American music - he is American music.'

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum know as 'the relationship.' Act I explores the journey from dating and waiting to love and marriage, while Act II reveals the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns, trips in the family car and pick-up techniques of the geriatric set. This hilarious revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, to those who have dared to ask, 'Say, what are you doing Saturday night?'

It's Only Life

John Bucchino’s songs have been recorded and performed by Judy Collins, Patti LuPone, Yo-Yo Ma, Audra MacDonald, Liza Minnelli, Art Garfunkel and many others. Conceived by director Daisy Prince and the award-winnnig songwriter, IT’S ONLY LIFE is a musical revue about longing, fulfillment, loss, triumph and ultimately wisdom. According to the New York Times, Bucchino's 'flowing, finely made piano ballads describe an urban life in which relationships come and go in cycles of yearning, fulfillment, heartbreak and healing' - where romantic love is anticipated with 'high expectations, high anxiety and open hearts.' The show won LA's 2008 Ovation Award for Best Book/Lyrics/Music for an Original Musical.

Lies & Legends - The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin

More than any other popular songwriter in recent memory, Harry Chapin was a storyteller. He celebrated the extraordinary lives of ordinary folk, and whether through comedy or pathos, reminded us of a shared emotional heritage. Here, the most inherently theatrical of Chapin's narrative pieces have been assembled, allowing the stories within them to dictate their own dramatic shape.

The Melody Lingers On

'It is all history now - ancient history. The celebrated romance of the Catholic golden girl, born to millions, and the immigrant cantor's son from the Lower East Side.' So writes Mary Ellin Barrett in her biography Irving Berlin: A Daughter's Memoir, on which this biographical revue is based. In a life that spanned more than 100 years, and with a creative output of over 1,000 songs, Irving Berlin epitomized Jerome Kern's famous adage that 'Irving Berlin has no place in American music. He is American music.' Over a period of five decades, Berlin's outpouring of ballads, dance numbers, novelty tunes and love songs defined American popular music. This revue was developed at the distinguished Trinity School in New York City and introduced hundreds of high school kids to the work of a man whose name was only familiar to some as the composer of 'God Bless America.' As this new generation learned the story of the Russian Immigrant who started as a singing waiter at a saloon on the Bowery, they became increasingly exhilarated with the discovery of each new song. They also found in Berlin's marriage a compelling, contemporary love story. From Tin Pan Alley to Broadway, from Hollywood to tours of duty throughout Europe and the Pacific, the story of Irving Berlin is the story of this American century. Running Time: 2 Hours, 1 Intermission

The Middle of Nowhere

The songs of Randy Newman are deftly woven into a contemporary 'minstrel' show with the sociological punch that has made Newman America's foremost musical satirist. Set in 1969, five disparate characters find themselves stranded at a bus depot in a back-water Louisiana town. As the rain pours down, their personas pour forth. There's the station's janitor, the jingoistic salesman and his hitchhiking pick-up, the redneck with a guitar case full of beer, and the Black GI returning from Vietnam. In a succession of stylized vaudevillian set pieces, this show-within-a-show becomes a bittersweet allegory of American pluralism.

Myths and Hymns

Adam Guettel burst to the forefront of acclaimed young theater composers with the award-winning musical, FLOYD COLLINS. 'A phenomenal talent,' proclaimed The New York Times. In his song cycle, MYTHS & HYMNS, Guettel paints an emotional landscape of faith and yearning that embraces a boundless spectrum of ideology and spirituality. The lyrics were inspired by Greek mythology and a 19th Century Presbyterian hymnal; the musical vocabulary sweeps from romantic art song and rock to Latin, gospel and R&B. MYTHS & HYMNS elucidates our fantastic desire to transcend earthly bounds, our intrinsic need to connect with something or someone greater in our restless search for enlightenment. (Available for performance with piano only.)

Rodgers & Hart - A Celebration

From their first hit song in 1925 through their final show-stopper in 1943, the prolific team of Rodgers & Hart was continually redefining the musical theatre with its wit, freshness and intelligence. In this rousing pastiche, the first act sets the stage for romance while the second act is comprised of their more satiric gems. The brief narration highlights the Rodgers & Hart story, but it's the songs that explain their success. Perhaps master tunesmith Irving Berlin summed it up best: 'Tuneful and tasty, schmaltzy and smart-music by Rodgers, lyrics by Hart.'

Smokey Joe's Cafe - The Songs of Leiber and Stoller

Leiber and Stoller, as much as anyone, virtually invented rock 'n' roll, and now their songs provide the basis for an electrifying entertainment that illuminates a golden age of American culture. In an idealized '50's setting, the classic themes of love won, lost and imagined blend with hilarious set-pieces and slice-of-life emotions. Featuring nearly 40 of the greatest songs ever recorded, SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE isn't just great pop music - it's compelling musical theatre.

Some Enchanted Evening-The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein

More so than any composer and lyricist who have written for the stage, the songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein have become an integral part of our everyday lives. We sing them in the shower, we dance to them in ballrooms, we hear them on the radio and in clubs and, yes, in elevators and supermarkets too. We still thrill to them on the live stage in their respective shows, and we teach them to our children. This stunning collection of compositions places five performers in a theatrical setting-first 'backstage,' where the songs are sung as personal interplay, and then 'onstage.' While offering the performers an opportunity to explore the songs within their own styles and sensibilities, it offers the audience a glorious parade of genuine hits.

Sophisticated Ladies

The musical legacy of The Duke is celebrated in this stylish and brassy retrospective that has taken audiences and critics alike by storm throughout the world. Act I takes us from his early days at The Cotton Club through his widening acceptance abroad, while Act II explores the private man as captured in his music. It's a high-stepping salute inspired by the glamorous nightlife and sensuous highlife of a man who lived to love.

Swing!

'Two thirds rhythm and one third soul.' That's how Fats Waller defined the uniquely American form of popular music and dance known as 'swing.' Requiring only joyful enthusiasm and a ready partner, swing exploded out of pre-war Harlem's hotbed of youth culture and swept the world. It shattered ethnic and cultural barriers, generating specialty styles such as Jive, Swing, Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, and Hip-Hop Swing. SWING! celebrates this remarkable diversity to the beat of the most exhilarating songs of the period. But as this enthralling song-and-dance show makes abundantly clear, swing was never a time or place -- it has always been a state of mind!

Taking a Chance on Love

The life and career of Broadway lyricist John Latouche have been woven together into a vibrant musical portrait of an endlessly fascinating character. As an openly gay man in the 1950’s, Latouche traveled in rarified circles that included many swells of the time. TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE weaves together his spectacular lyrical output with candid entries from his personal journals to chronicle one of the most intriguing paths ever forged in the musical theater. Largely considered a precursor of Sondheim, he wrote the lyrics for such landmark shows as CABIN IN THE SKY and CANDIDE and for such neglected gems as THE GOLDEN APPLE and the Carol Channing vehicle, THE VAMP. His major breakthrough came with BALLAD FOR AMERICANS, which became a national sensation in its vision of an America that draws strength from its ethnic and religious diversity, long before the concept of “multiculturalism” was to be articulated. Ironically, he was blacklisted as un-American at the time. His musical BEGGAR’S HOLIDAY featured the first romantic interracial kiss in a Broadway musical, causing nightly walk outs. Clearly ahead of his time in both his life and his work, Latouche died in 1956 at the age of 41.

The Tin Pan Alley Rag

Although there is no historic record of Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin ever having met, it's not unlikely that the legendary songwriters' paths might have crossed in that district of New York City known in the early part of the 20th century as Tin Pan Alley. That's the premise of this intriguing musical play, set into motion when the aging Joplin happens into young Berlin's office in search of a publisher for his opera, TREEMONISHA. The ensuing musical discourse highlights influential and emotional moments from each of their lives. This bracing, original piece contrasts the ironic similarities and differences between the men to the sustaining surge of musical abundance. While Joplin received a conservatory education as the prodigy of a father born into slavery, it was Berlin, the Russian immigrant who couldn't read music, who had his first international hit song at the age of 23. What becomes clear is that both Berlin and Joplin possessed musical gifts beyond measure and shared a passionate humanity, both of which are beautifully showcased and illuminated in THE TIN PAN ALLEY RAG.