BWW Reviews: A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING and Lambertville Station Restaurant
With a rich American history dating back to 1700's New Hope Pa. was destined for grandiose things in the future. From ferry boats, mills and canal boats to world-class artists, actors and writers and to the magnificent variety of galleries, shops and restaurants today, and of course, The Buck County Playhouse is once again "OPEN FOR BUSINESS".
Just a short walk over the Delaware River, Bridge St. connects the towns of New Hope Pa. to Lambertville, NJ.; Home to the historic Lambertville Station Inn and restaurant. Completed in 1867; the station initially served passengers traveling on the local lines from Belvidere to Trenton. In 1982, the current owners purchased the building and for fourteen months renovated and refurbished it, painstakingly preserving what could be saved.
The massive exterior was totally restored to its original beauty. The interior became an elegant blend of yesterday and today. The etched glass, polished oak, gleaming brass and antiques of Lambertville's restored 19th century train station on the banks of the Delaware River across from New Hope PA make it a tasteful backdrop for the Lambertville Station's renowned variations on American cuisine restaurant. Their stone walled wine cellar is transformed into intimate sections of cozy couches and bistro tables where a special cuisine is served.
In their main restaurant we enjoyed probably the best lobster and crab chunk bisque soup ever, followed by their "small dish" of imported cheeses served with slim slices of Artisan bread and truffle honey for dipping. Our main course consisted of fresh broiled bass with creamy lemon sauce and herb risotto and gently cooked fresh vegetables along with prime choice cut of pork tenderloin with a rum mint sauce served with red rice, black beans and roasted plantains. Dessert was a decadent New York cheesecake drizzled in caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream and strawberries.
We anxiously made our way to the newly restored Bucks County Playhouse which is located in New Hope, Pennsylvania, at the site of a former grist mill on the banks of the Delaware River. The original structure was built in 1790. Facing demolition in the 1930s, the site was saved when a small band of artists, including Broadway playwright and Bucks County resident Moss Hart, helped rally the local community to renovate it as a theater. The Bucks County Playhouse opened on July 1, 1939.
Over the next 70 years, a veritable Who's Who of Hollywood and Broadway legends have played the stage of BCP-Grace Kelly, Angela Lansbury, Bea Arthur, Walter Matthau, Uta Hagen, Leslie Neilson, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn (in their first stage production together), Liza Minnelli, Helen Hayes, Tovah Feldshuh, Andrea McArdle, June Lockhart, Colleen Dewhurst, Kitty Carlisle, Bert Lahr, and Robert Redford, to name a few.
BCP has also showcased some of the theatre's most beloved musicals and plays, including She Loves Me, West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Annie Get Your Gun, The Glass Menagerie, The Odd Couple, Dial M for Murder, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Playhouse has also launched many Broadway productions including the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy, Harvey, Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, and James Whitmore's one-man show about Harry Truman; Give 'Em Hell, Harry!
On Monday July 2 both local supporters and celebrities re-opened the theater doors. Will Hammerstein recalled driving through town in the late 1970s with his grandfather, theatrical great and Bucks County resident Oscar Hammerstein 2nd, who pointed out The Playhouse as a once-great artistic landmark.
"Bucks County was such an important place in the life of Oscar Hammerstein II, and at Highland Farm he had a retreat where he did much of his creative work," commented Ted Chapin, President and Executive Director of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.
As a tribute to these two fine composers The Playhouse chose to present "A Grand Night for Singing" a fine inaugural celebration of some of musical theaters finest songs.
The cast features a line-up of some of Broadway's most seasoned performers including Courtney Balan (Broadway: [title of show], Cry-Baby), Ron Bohmer (Broadway: Phantom of the Opera, Ragtime), Greg Bosworth (Atlanta: Xanadu, Clyde and Bonnie: A Folktale), Erin Davie (Broadway: A Little Night Music, Grey Gardens), and Kenita R. Miller (Broadway: Xanadu, The Color Purple).
"With over 30 selected songs and medleys such as the "Carousel Waltz Overture", to "Maria" from The Sound of Music to "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" to "Something Wonderful" and "I Have Dreamed" from The King and I, all performed in a very clever smartly choreographed program designed by Lorin Latarro and directed by Lonny Price. Musical Director Phil Reno leads his 6 piece band in fine fashion.
Highlights of the selections range from a cutesy versions of "The Surrey With The Fringe On The Top" with Greg Bosworth and Courtney Balan and "Honey Bun" featuring Ron Bohmer and company, to a an emotionally charged rendition of " I Can't Say No" and a heartfelt " If I Loved You" offered by "Kenita R. Miller. Stepping out delightfully are Erin Davie and Greg Bosworth in "Shall We Dance". Davie's strong soprano delights in "It Might As Well Be Spring" and Ron Bohmer's commanding voice soars in "My Little Girl (from Carousel's Soliloquy) and melts the audience in a heartfelt "Love, Look Away" from Flower Drum Song. The entire company joins forces with impressive versions of "Some Enchanted Evening" and "I Have Dreamed".
"A Grand Night for Singing" plays at the Bucks County Playhouse, 70 E. Main St. New Hope, Pa from July 2 through Sunday, July 29. For tickets and information: www.bcptheater.org or call 215.862.2121.