Melissa Errico & More Set for Symphony Space's KURT WEILL ON BROADWAY Today
Symphony Space opens its 2013-14 Music season with 'Kurt Weill on Broadway,' tonight, October 7 (8 pm) at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Broadway opening of Weill's One Touch of Venus. Ted Chapin hosts a stellar cast featuring Melissa Errico, Brent Barrett, Judy Blazer, and Ron Raines, plus winners of the international Lotte Lenya Competition.
The orchestra for the evening is the dynamic young ensemble Le Train Bleu. The conductor and musical director is Weill specialist James Holmes, with additional instrumental numbers conducted by Ransom Wilson; stage direction is by Richard Jay-Alexander.
Also performing are Richard Todd Adams, Doug Carpenter, Cooper Grodin, Justin Hopkins, Zachary James, Analisa Leaming, Jacob Keith Watson, and Maren Weinberger, all winners of the Lotte Lenya Competition. The Competition is an international contest that bridges the worlds of opera/operetta and Broadway musical theater and recognizes talented young singer/actors who excel dramatically and musically in a wide range of repertoire.
One Touch of Venus, with lyrics by Ogden Nash and book by S. J. Perelman and Nash, is a madcap spoof of the Pygmalion myth, revolving around a statue of Venus that comes to life when Rodney, a dimwitted New York barber, impulsively slips an engagement ring meant for his fiancée on the statue's finger.
The original Broadway production opened at the Imperial Theatre on October 7, 1943 and closed on February 10, 1945 after 567 performances. It was directed by Elia Kazan, featured choreography by Agnes De Mille, and starred Mary Martin, Kenny Baker and Paula Laurence. Marlene Dietrich reportedly turned down the title role, calling it "too sexy and profane", which gave Martin the opportunity to establish herself as a Broadway star. Among other gems, it introduced the seductive ballad Speak Low.
The first half of the evening spotlights numbers from Venus, while the second offers selections from Lady in the Dark, Street Scene, Love Life, Knickerbocker Holiday, The Threepenny Opera, and Happy End. (Note: the program is subject to change.)
Speak Low (Kurt Weill recording accompanied by orchestra Entr'Acte from Lady in the Dark
Entr'Acte from One Touch of Venus Oh, Fabulous One (LADY IN THE DARK)
One Touch of Venus One Life to Live (LADY)
I'm a Stranger Here Myself This is New (LADY)
How Much I Love You Wouldn't You Like to Be on Broadway? (STREET SCENE)
Foolish Heart What Good Would the Moon Be? (STREET SCENE)
Way Out West in Jersey Lonely House (STREET SCENE)
West Wind I Remember It Well (LOVE LIFE)
Very, Very, Very Love Song (LOVE LIFE)
That's Him Lost in the Stars (LOST IN THE STARS)
The Trouble with Women It Never Was You (KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY)
Speak Low September Song (KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY)
Mr. Right (LOVE LIFE)
Army Song (THREEPENNY OPERA)
Surabaya Johnny (HAPPY END)
Here I'll Stay (LOVE LIFE)
Brent Barrett has entertained millions of fans around the world from the stages of Broadway, the West End, concerts halls, recording studios, and television. His recent roles include Captain Hook in Peter Pan opposite Cathy Rigby, Billy Flynn in the Tony Award winning Chicago The Musical (for which he received a LA Drama Critics Award), and the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular. Brent received an Olivier Award nomination for his starring role in the London premiere of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate. He also starred in the City Cente r Encores! production of The Pajama Gameand as King Arthur in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Camelot. Other Broadway roles include "Frank Butler" in Annie Get Your Gun opposite Reba McEntire, "Charles Castleton" in Dance a Little Closerand "Baron Felix Von Gaigern" in Grand Hotel. Brent made his Broadway debut as "Tony" in the 1980 revival of West Side Story, which he subsequently reprised in the International Tour. Additional New York performances include "Maximillon" in the Broadway revival of Candide, and "Tommy Albright" in New York City Opera's production ofBrigadoon. In New Zealand, he appeared as "Archibald" in that country's production of The Secret Garden. On the road, Brent played "Victor Duchesi" in the pre-Broadway Tour of Busker Alley, and he starred opposite Cathy Rigby in the National Tour of Annie Get Your Gun.
Judy Blazer began her career as a young singer in opera, oratorio, and recital in New York City and throughout Italy. She moved into Broadway theater with leading roles in Me and My Girl (Sally), A Change in the Heir (Prince Conrad), Titanic (Lady Caroline), Neil Simon's 45 Seconds from Broadway (Cindy) and a major role in LoveMusik (Brecht's mistress), directed by Harold Prince. Off-Broadway, she has appeared in Candide (the Old Lady) and Sweeney Todd (the Beggar Woman) with the New York City Opera, Hello Again (as the Nurse, for which she received a Drama Desk nomination) and The House of Bernarda Alba (Magdalena) for the Lincoln Center Theater, The Torch Bearers (Florence) for the Drama Department, Richard Greenberg's Hurrah at Last (Gia) at the Roundabout Theater, and the New York City Center Encores production of A Connecticut Yankee (Alice/Sandy). Judy has sung at the Metropolitan Opera as a soloist in Twyla Tharp'sEverlast with the American Ballet Theater and has performed in concert at Lincoln Center and The Public Theater in New York. Judy's film credits include song and voice characterizations for the animated films Anastasia, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, and Buster and Chauncey's Silent Night. She also played a major role (Chris) in Shelly Silver's critically acclaimed art film, The Houses that Are Left. On television, Judy has been seen in Law and Order, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, and as a featured artist on three PBS specials: Leonard Bernstein's New York, In Performance at the White House, and Great Performances: The Thomashefskys.
Born in Manhattan, Melissa Errico's stage credits include the 1993 revival of My Fair Lady, High Society, Amour, Dracula the Musical,andWhite Christmas. In 2004, she starred in the lauded hit production of Finian's Rainbow, winning the moniker "the voice of enchantment!" at the Irish Repertory Theater, where she also starred in The Importance of Being Earnest, Major Barbara, and Candida, earning nominations for each. She was selected by Stephen Sondheim to star in Sunday In The Park With George at The Kennedy Center, and became a favorite at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles where she starred in My Fair Lady (John Lithgow), Camelot (Jeremy Irons), and The Sound of Music" (Marni Nixon/John Schneider). Errico was a regular on the 1995 television ser ies Central Park West and has also appeared as a guest on Law & Order, Miss Match, Ed, Six Degrees, Gifted Man, and others. Her mainstream movies with leading roles include Life or Something Like It with Angelina Jolie, Frequency with Dennis Quaid, and Loverboy opposite Kyra Sedgewick, directed by Kevin Bacon. For her acclaimed performance in the title role in George Bernard Shaw's Candida, she was called "commanding" (Time Out), "beguiling and enigmatic" (Associated Press) and "gorgeous...a delight to behold" (The New York Times), earning her a Drama Desk nomination and filmed for Lincoln Center. She went on to star in the film Patrimony opposite Robert Vaughn, premiering at the Boston Film Festival and the NY International Shorts Festival. Most recently, Melissa plays Clara in the 2013 Classic Theater Company revival of Passion, directe d by John Doyle.
Born and raised in Texas, Ron Raines attended Oklahoma City University and The Juilliard School. He has had a long and illustrious international career that spans the worlds of musical theater, opera, cabaret, classical music, and television. He most recently appeared as Ben in the critically acclaimed revival of Follies at The Kennedy Center, Broadway, and Los Angeles, for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. He has starred on Broadway in shows such as Chicago and Show Boat, and originated the role of Nick Longworth in Teddy and Alice (with Len Cariou). He has delighted audiences around the world with his memorable starring roles in virtually every major American musical and operetta, including A Little Night Music, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, So uth Pacific,Annie, Kismet, Sayonara, Kiss Me Kate, The King and I, Naughty Marietta, The Merry Widow, Brigadoon, Rose Marie, Oklahoma!, Carousel,Side by Side by Sondheim, Guys and Dolls, and Man of La Mancha at the Covent Garden Festival. He has soloed with over 50 major American and international orchestras, including the Boston Pops, the Philly Pops, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, and the Israeli Philharmonic, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Tanglewood, the London Palladium, Rainbow and Stars, and the Royal Festival Hall. He has appeared on four PBS "Great Performances," and has made two solo recordings on Jay Records and numerous cast albums.
James Holmes was Head of Music at Opera North in Leeds 1996-2008, having previously been on the music staff at English National Opera for over twenty years. Now a freelance conductor, accompanist, and arranger, alongside his work in opera he has cultivated a lifelong enthusiasm for music theatre - notably Weill and Sondheim - with productions including Street Scene (also BBC TV), Mahagonny, Pacific Overtures (ENO and a Grammy nominated recording), Sweeney Todd, Arms and the Cow, Seven Deadly Sins, One Touch of Venus (Opera North): Into The Woods, Songs From A Hotel Bedroom (ROH2), Street Scene (Berlin/arte DVD), I'm A Stranger Here Myself (BBC TV), One Touch of Venus, and Down In The Valley (Dessau). He was Associate Musical Director of Carousel (Royal National Theatre), and conducted a widely-praised new production of the same show for Opera North last year, both in Leeds and at the Barbican in London. Concert/broadcast work includes appearances with the Halle, CBSO, Montreal Symphony, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, and the LSO with a wide spectrum of performers ranging from leading opera singers such as Willard White and Sally Burgess to artists such as Antony and The Johnsons and Grizzly Bear. Other recent work includes the British premiere of Weill's Zaubernacht (ROH 2), Grimes on the Beach (Aldeburgh Festival), and original musical direction for The Girl I Left Behind Me< span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"> and Pat Kirkwood Is Angry (Leeds, Manchester, London and touring). He was artist in residence for this year's Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, and last December joined the Board of Trustees of the Kurt Weill Foundation.
Richard Jay-Alexander began his theatrical career in 1977 in the original cast of the Broadway play Zoot Suit, appearing thereafter in the original Broadway cast of Amadeus, where he began to direct, subsequently helming the national tours of the Tony-winning play. He is probably best known for his work with Cameron Mackintosh, running his North American operations for ten years. Their shows include LES MISERABLES, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, and many other projects. He began to branch out into producing albums, writing, and staged concerts for talents such as Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, Ricky Martin, Russell Watson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lea Salonga, Il Divo, and many others. He has traveled the world and worked stages from Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House, from Feinstein's and The Algonquin in New York, to Las Vegas and arenas across America, Canada, and Europe. He has also directed many plays, one-person shows, commercials, pop videos and film. Jay-Alexander enjoys lecturing, workshops, and master classes when the time allows, as he believes in nurturing young people who are passionate about theater. He has also done events for many charitable organizations, including BC/EFA, the Actors Fund, the Motion Picture & Television Fund, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Ransom Wilson has long been recognized internationally as one of the greatest flutists of his generation. Of late he is turning increasingly to a career in orchestral and operatic conducting. He founded Solisti New York orchestra in 1981 and has been a member of the musical staff at the Metropolitan Opera since 2006. Additionally, he is Artistic Director and conductor of Le Train Bleu, which recently received rave reviews for its debut performance at New York City's innovative Galapagos Art Space. He has appeared as guest conductor with England's London Symphony Orchestra and Hallé Orchestra, the Hermitage State Orchestra in Russia, the Cracow Philharmonic (Poland), KBS Symphony (South Korea), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (with Sir James Galway), Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York's Mostly Mozart Fes tival, New Jersey Symphony, Budapest Strings, Hartford Symphony, and Berkeley Symphony. As flute soloist, he has appeared in concert with some of the greatest orchestras and artists of our time, including the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony, Frederica von Stade, Jessye Norman, Thomas Hampson, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Hilary Hahn, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Sir James Galway, Barry Douglas, Peter Frankl, Robin Sutherland, and many others. He is an Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, conductor of the orchestra at SUNY Purchase, and Professor of Flute at Yale University.
Le Train Bleu is a new musical collective formed by conductor and flutist Ransom Wilson. The musicians are among the most exciting young players in New York, and are chosen for their brilliance as well as their expressive qualities. In the 2011-12 season they were a resident ensemble at the Galapagos Art Space, where they presented a 3-concert series of new and interesting music. The New York Times said of their debut performance: "Under Mr. Wilson's baton, the Train Bleu ensemble was both incisive and joyous in execution." They collaborated with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, and recorded their first album for the Cantaloupe label. Last season, they presented their first New York series concert at DROM, and joined forces with opera moderne for Viktor Ullman's posthumous masterpiece Der Kaiser von Atlantis.
Symphony Space traces its beginnings to a free marathon concert, Wall to Wall Bach, held in 1978 and organized by co-founders Isaiah Sheffer and Allan Miller. The music marathon then drew thousands of visitors and has since become one of the organization's signature events. Today Symphony Space presents more than 600 events each season, including music, dance, theater, film, and literary readings. Some of its best known programs include Selected Shorts, a reading of short stories by stars of stage and screen, and one of the most popular series on public radio; the Thalia Film Club, a trendy film club hosted by Marshall Fine featuring pre-release screenings and behind-the-scenes conversations with film stars; Just Kidding, one of the most talked about family entertainment series around town; and, more recently, The Music of Now, presenting an eclectic range of music in all styles and sensibilities, focusing on emerging artists and unusual work. Uptown Showdown has been called "New York's best comedy series" by New York Magazine. For more information, visit symphonyspace.org.
Symphony Space is located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. Box office hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 1 pm - 6 pm, open two hours prior to performances and events. Tickets can also be purchased through www.symphonyspace.org, or by calling 212/864-5400.