Jonathan Groff, Mandy Gonzalez & More Set for 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists' Rodgers and Hammerstein Celebration, 4/5-7
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were established hit makers when they teamed up to make a musical about cowboys and farmers. What follows was a miracle-Oklahoma!, then Carousel and South Pacific; the list of extraordinary hits goes on. On April 5, 6 and 7 get to know these legends even better at Getting to Know You: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lyrics & Lyricists™ first look at the two songwriters as a team. Guest artistic director, writer and host Ted Chapin, head of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, shares an insider's perspective on the pair, gleaned from his years with the Rodgers and Hammerstein families; joined by vocalists Brandon Victor Dixon, Mandy Gonzalez, Jonathan Groff, Rebecca Luker, and Phillipa Soo.
Chapin approaches his tribute to these iconic songwriters with a sense of discovery, noting "even I learn things all the time. Take 'People Will Say We're In Love' as an example. At a recent production of Oklahoma! I noticed inner rhymes that I hadn't paid attention to: '...Why do they think up stories that link my name...' "Grantin' your wish, I carved our initials on that tree...' It's a tribute to their genius that no matter how well you know their songs, there is always more to uncover about how the work of two distinctively different artists blended together into a unified whole.
Ted Chapin is President and Executive Director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: an Imagem Company. He is past chairman of the board of Trustees for the American Theatre Wing and was chairman of the Advisory Committee for New York City Center's Encores! series from its inception. He serves on several boards including Goodspeed Musicals, New Music USA, and New York City Center. He served as a Tony Award® nominator for two seasons, and is currently a member of the Tony Administration Committee. His career began as production- or directorial assistant for the Broadway productions of Follies, The Rothchilds and The Unknown Soldier and His Wife, as well as Bernstein's Mass at the Kennedy Center, and Candide in San Francisco. As associate to Alan Arkin, he worked on the original Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, Twigs starring Carol Burnett (CBS); and Neil Cuthbert's The Soft Touch. Chapin was musical director for the National Theatre of the Deaf's production of Four Saints in Three Acts, and producer of the Musical Theatre Lab. He is the author of Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical "Follies" and previously helmed L&L's Stage Door Canteen in 2011.
Dixon is currently starring on Broadway in Motown: The Musical in the role of Berry Gordy. He is a Tony Award nominee for his role inThe Color Purple, and also garnered a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance in the Off-Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys. Dixon was featured in Ted Chapin's 2011 L&L show, Stage Door Canteen.
Gonzalez is best known for playing the role of Nina Rosario in the Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights, a role she created Off-Broadway at 37 Arts (Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble). Other Broadway credits include Elphaba in Wicked (Broadway.com award for Best Replacement), Princess Amneris in Aida, and several characters - including John Lennon - in Lennon. She received an Obie™ Award for her performance in the Off-Broadway production of Eli's Comin' directed by Diane Paulus, the musical based on the music and lyrics of singer-songwriter Laura Nyro, and her film/TV credits include Across the Universe, Man on a Ledge, After, The Good Wife, White Collar and One Life to Live.
Groff originated the lead of Melchior Gabor in the award-winning Broadway musical Spring Awakening, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination. He later appeared in the 2008 Off-Broadway revival of Hair and received critical acclaim for his role in the West End revival ofDeathtrap in 2010. An Off-Broadway regular, Groff earned an Obie Award for starring in the Craig Lucas plays Prayer for My Enemy andThe Singing Forrest. He is widely known to TV audiences for his recurring role on the FOX series Glee and currently stars in the HBO series Looking. Groff starred in the first-ever screen adaptation of author David Sedaris' work C.O.G., in which he portrayed a character based on Sedaris himself, and voiced Kristoff in Disney's newest Academy Award-winning feature film Frozen.
Luker most recently appeared on Broadway in Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her Broadway credits also include Mary Poppins(Tony Award nomination), Nine; The Music Man (Tony Award nomination, Drama Desk Award nomination and Outer Critics Circle Award nomination); The Sound of Music (Outer Critics Circle Award nomination); Show Boat (Tony Award nomination); The Secret Garden(Drama Desk Award nomination); and The Phantom of the Opera. With the New York City Opera Luker was featured in X (The Life and Times of Malcolm X) and Brigadoon. Off-Broadway she starred in Maury Yeston's Death Takes a Holiday (Outer Critics Circle Award nomination), the world premiere of A.R. Gurney's Indian Blood, Can't Let Go and The Vagina Monologues.
Soo attended The Juilliard School for acting and was a recent graduate when she landed the role of Natasha in Dave Malloy's Natasha,Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 in the Off-Broadway pop-up venue Kazino (World Premiere, Ars Nova). She has been seen on NBC'sSmash and this spring will in the upcoming workshop of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton Mixtape, directed by Thomas Kail.