BWW TV Exclusive: Melissa Errico, Brent Barrett, Ron Raines & More Sing Kurt Weill at Symphony Space!
On Monday evening, October 7th, some of Broadway's best took the stage at New York's Symphony Space to celebrate the music of Kurt Weill On Broadway. It was also celebrating the actual Opening Night of ONE TOUCH OF VENUS on Broadway, 70 years ago, that very night. And, in a stroke of good timing, announcing a studio cast recording of the musical, being released on Jay Records by Producer John Yap.
It's not often we head up to Broadway (at 95th Street) to Symphony Space, but this kind of programming will get us up there any time.
In addition to a uniformly skillful and talented cast, staged by Richard Jay-Alexander, the evening boasted a full orchestra - a young and talented Ensemble of musicians called Le Train Bleu. Weill expert James Holmes conducted the evening for the performers, while the orchestra's Musical Director, Ransom Wilson, conducted the Overture and Entr'acte.
The evening unfolded with such elegance and style, that it seemed to fly by. Act I was devoted to ONE TOUCH OF VENUS and 3 cast members of the recording were featured: Melissa Errico, Ron Raines and Brent Barrett. Errico, you will recall, starred in the Venus role for ENCORES!
The staging was simple, beautifully lit, sexy, elegant and fun. Ted Chapin, from the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (they represent the Weill Catalog of Properties) was our host for the evening and was smart, informative and funny. He should do more of this. His knowledge and story-telling were concise and not lecture-y and set up each of the sets of songs with interesting information, either about the show, the story, or the times.
The gravitas and star power that people like Errico, Raines, Barrett and Judy Blazer bring to a stage is undeniable. It makes it easy to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Melissa Errico was absolutely ravishing and her voice was sounding glorious and none the worse for the vocal injury and drama she endured during PASSION. This triumphant return to the stage for her, must feel good.
Ron Raines is in a class all his own and delivered a stunning West Wind and September Song.
Judy Blazer should be working everywhere, all the time. Funny and precise, with an intelligence and voice to match.
Brent Barrett is and has always been one of the best voices and actors in the business. It's criminal that there are just not enough shows to keep all these people working and continue to be seen by Broadway audiences.
But the REAL surprise of the evening were winners of the international Lotte Lenya Competition (Richard Todd Adams, Doug Carpenter, Cooper Grodin, Justin Hopkins,Zachary James, Analisa Leaming, Jacob Keith Watson, and Maren Weinberger). Many of them appeared in ACT I, but ACT II, which opened against a bare brick wall, with vintage posters of the Kurt Weill musicals that played on Broadway, were more "showcased" in this second half. One song after another, from STREET SCENE, LADY IN THE DARK, LOVE LIFE, KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY, THE THREEPENNY OPERA and HAPPY END was knocked out of the ball park by these young talents, some of whom have already found their way to Broadway, and the rest who surely will.
Another "highlight" of the evening, was seeing rare footage from the original ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, never before seen and one of its original dancers, who was in the audience, Sono Osato, and received a lengthy and thunderous ovation. ACT II opened with a wonderful interview with Lotte Lenya, by Schuyler Chapin, Ted Chapin's father, which aired years ago on Channel 13, New York's PBS station.
Click Here to Play!