SU Drama to Present Kurt Weill Musical Revue This May
From 1930s Berlin to 1950s America, Weill rose to international fame with his avant-garde style and gorgeous musical scores. This musical revue chronicling Weill's rise to stardom opens at the Storch Theatre in the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama Complex, 820 E. Genesee St., on Saturday, May 6, and runs through Saturday, May 13.
Tickets are now available at vpa.syr.edu/drama, by phone at 315.443.3275 and in person at the Box Office. A preview performance will take place on Friday, May 5, at 8 p.m.
Weill's musical career spanned 20 eventful years and included such notable works as "The Threepenny Opera," "Knickerbocker Holiday" and "Lost in the Stars" to name just a few of the many pieces the composer completed in partnership with acclaimed dramatists such as Bertolt Brecht, Georg Kaiser and Maxwell Anderson. Weill's work paved the way for a worldwide resurgence of the popularity of musicals and produced one of the most vital cultural creations from inter-war Europe.
Department of Drama faculty member David Lowenstein, who directs "Berlin to Broadway," said he is thrilled to be a part of the production that honors Weill's musical successes.
"The canon of music he left us in that relatively short period of time he was alive is by itself impressive. What's so exciting about doing a show based on Weill's work now is focusing on opening up the understanding that the themes he wrote about then are as prevalent and as rich now," said Lowenstein.
To give the revue a contemporary feel (the original show premiered in 1974), Lowenstein intends to update the set and reconfigure some of the vocal arrangements. The original production was set entirely on a boat. Scenic designer Sofia Zavala plans to deconstruct that concept with a more suggestive and less literal approach. Plus, with a cast of ten instead of the original four, Lowenstein has made musical shifts.
"I have re-distributed some of the material and lines of the songs to divide the show into small group numbers and duets," said Lowenstein. "Since the set is an abstract impression of a boat, the narrations are going to be adjusted. For example, in the original piece some of the chorus members proclaim that they are on a boat, but because this is not true for this production the dialogue for that must be altered."
These changes to the original production are Lowenstein's way of honoring the past without separating it entirely from a modern audience. Lowenstein explained that the adjustments are there to bring a connection between Weill's music and the world of today. With subjects such as immigration, nationalism and identity, Weill's compositions according to Lowenstein deserve to be showcased.
"There's a song composed by Weill called 'Cry, the Beloved Country' that has lyrics similar to a protest song for today," said Lowenstein. "It's about how we have lost track of the truth and our connection with the land. Literally, there's a relation here to climate, ecology, and people's sense of right and wrong. It's just amazing to listen to."
IF YOU GO:
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage
Lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, Marc Blitzstein, Bertolt Brecht, Jacques Deval, Michael Feingold, Ira Gershwin, Paul Green, Langston Hughes, Alan Jay Lerner, Ogden Nash, George Tabori and Arnold Weinstein
Music by Kurt Weill
Text and format by Gene Lerner
Musical arrangements by Newton Wayland
Originally directed by Donald Saddler
Directed by David Lowenstein
Musical Director: Brian Cimmet
Choreographer: Andrea Leigh-Smith
Scenic Design: Sofia Zavala
Costume Design: Jessica Crawford
Lighting Design: Andy LiDestri
Sound Design: Jonathan R. Herter
Stage Manager: Bryn Newell
May 5 at 8 p.m. (preview)
May 6 at 8 p.m. (opening)
May 7 at 2 p.m. (ASL interpreted)
May 10 at 8 p.m.
May 11 at 8 p.m.
May 12 at 8 p.m.
May 13 at 2 p.m. (open captioning)
The Syracuse University Department of Drama offers conservatory-style training in a university setting shared with a resident, professional theater (Syracuse Stage), presenting an unparalleled combination of teaching professionals and diverse performance and production opportunities. SU Drama offers four conservatory-style bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) degree programs in acting, musical theater, stage management, and theater design and technology, as well as a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree program in drama that features a Theater Management track. Undergraduates put classroom theory into practice through productions and various special opportunities, including Wednesday Lab, study abroad, the NYC-based Tepper Semester, the Sorkin in L.A. Learning Practicum, numerous community engagement initiatives and the opportunity to participate in workshops or discussions with such visiting artists as Taye Diggs '93, Aaron Sorkin '83, Vanessa Williams '85, Frank Langella '59, David Henry Hwang, Tim Miller, Tony Kushner and more.
The Syracuse University Department of Drama is housed within the College of Visual and Performing Arts (SU:VPA). SU:VPA is committed to the education of cultural leaders who will engage and inspire audiences through performance, visual art, design, scholarship and commentary. It provides the tools for self-discovery and risk-taking in an environment that thrives on critical thought and action.