BWW TV EXCLUSIVE: DEATH TAKES A HOLDAY Cast Weighs in on the Best of Yeston!

By: Jun. 23, 2011
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Roundabout Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere of the new musical Death Takes a Holiday, directed by Tony® winner Doug Hughes (Doubt), adapted by Tony®-winning writers Peter Stone (1776) and Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray), and composed by Tony® winner Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic). Death Takes a Holiday is based on the dramatic play by Alberto Casella, rewritten for the American stage by Walter Ferris, and originally produced by Messrs. Shubert

In Death Takes a Holiday, it's just after the first World War and the loneliest of souls arrives at an Italian villa disguised as a handsome young Prince (Ovenden), and for the first time experiences the joys and heartbreaks of life. But when he unexpectedly falls in love with a newly engaged young woman (Paice), the mysterious stranger discovers that love may in fact be stronger than death. 

Death Takes a Holiday began performances on Friday, June 10, 2011 and opens officially on Thursday, July 21, 2011 at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. The cast includes Linda Balgord (Contessa Evangelina Di San Danielli), Matt Cavenaugh (Major Eric Fenton), Mara Davi (Alice Lamberti), Joy Hermalyn (Cora), Jay Jaski (Lorenzo), Simon Jones (Dr. Dario Albione), Rebecca Luker (Duchess Stephanie Lamberti), Patricia Noonan (Sophia), Julian Ovenden (Death/Prince Nikolai Sirki), Jill Paice (Grazia Lamberti), Michael Siberry (Duke Vittorio Lamberti), Alexandra Socha (Daisy Fenton), Don Stephenson (Fidele), and Max Von Essen (Corrado Montelli).

BroadwayWorld recently meet up with the cast and company to weigh in on their favorite Maury Yeston song in Death and in his greater body of work.  See what the crew has to say below and in the accompanying video clip!


Doug Hughes (Director)

"New Words" from Maury's In The Beginning is a song that never fails to move me. It instantly conjures a situation that is both commonplace and wondrous. A parent teaching a child. It is simultaneously simple and profound. That combination always seems to be the highest achievement to me. Exquisite, deeply felt and universally appealing. I just love it.

To ask which is my favorite song from Death Takes A Holiday is ever so slightly unfair. They are Maury's children but I feel like their doting uncle and it is impossible for me to play favorites. I love the love duet that closes Act One - "Alone Here With You." Ingeniously conceived. Two lovers unite passionately over the text of a young girl's diary. Jill Paice and Julian Ovenden perform it so powerfully. Our Prince Sirki's "Alive"- a bravura work that is somehow both a patter song and an anthem to the great pleasure that can be extracted from the most mundane events is also superb and superbly performed by Julian. Just Exhilarating. "Finally To Know," a gorgeously harmonic trio about longing that the exceptional Ms Paice, Alexandra Socha, and Mara Davi perform also thrills me. But I feel similar exhilaration when I hear Matt Cavenaugh knock "Roberto's Eyes" out of the park on a nightly basis or listen to Rebecca Luker's brilliantly soulful performance of "Losing Roberto." Then there is the great rousing, sexy twenties dance number, "The Shimmy" that Julian and Mara put over with effortless mastery. I also just love the opening "Nothing Happened." It's a great calling card for the show-phenomenal musical story-telling. Elegant and compact, it manages to deliver both danger and pleasure simultaneously. This is an open-throated and open-hearted score; working with it reminds me of the pleasure I had when my mother would take me to Broadway musicals when I was a kid. Have I adequately demonstrated my inability to pick one song?

Linda Balgord (Contessa Evangelina Di San Danielli)

"Unusual Way" from Nine is my favorite Maury Yeston song. It is simply beautiful. Our lives are made from the relationships that touch us deeply and this song manages to express this in the most gorgeous way.

My favorite song from Death Takes A Holiday is ...... I so dislike having to pick favorites!....I do love Sirki's "I Thought That I Could Live" because we see how the few days of being human have transformed him, and it is musically thrilling.

Matt Cavenaugh (Major Eric Fenton)

Oh, wow, it's tough to pick a favorite Maury Yeston song. I've always loved Maury's music. Grand Hotel, Nine, Titanic...all of his shows have such lush, hauntingly beautiful scores. However, if I have to pick one song how about we go with "Love Can't Happen."

I'm very lucky to get to sing an incredible song called "Roberto's Eyes." But, I'm singing it. I don't get to listen to it. So, my favorite song in Death Takes a Holiday is "Alone Here with You," which ends the first act. A gorgeous number performed beautifully by Julian Ovenden and Jill Paice.

Jay Jaski (Lorenzo)

My favorite song, on both accounts, is definitely "More and More" from the show.
So, I tinkered with my blurb a bit below. Hopefully this fits the bill, so to speak.

When I am fortunate enough to perform one of Maury's songs, be that from Death Takes a Holiday or one of his many other Broadway shows, what always strikes me is the fact that a Yeston score is always of the highest caliber, reflecting that Maury is a true and serious composer -- one who is able to summon and create any mode, melody, or idiom of music that he believes best serves the score and the play at that moment. And I must add that as a tenor, I simply do not know of anything more electrifying and inspiring than performing a Yeston score. For me, my favorite Yeston tune would have to be the soaring "More and More" from Death Takes a Holiday. For as this boundless song so perfectly embodies, Maury Yeston's music leaves all of us, players and patrons alike, simply wanting more.

Rebecca Luker (Duchess Stephanie Lamberti)

First, my absolute favorite song by Maury Yeston is "Unusual Way". I got to sing it in the Broadway revival of NINE as "Claudia" and I recorded it on my latest CD "Greenwich Time". It's a gorgeous arrangement by Joseph Thalken that made me fall in love with the song all over again.

My favorite song in DTAH is "Death is in the House". It's a duet that's sung by Duke Vittorio and the major domo, Fidele after Death introduces himself and goes upstairs to bed. It's fantastic, fun, and written in a sort of baroque style that's just infectious. And of course, Michael Siberry and Don Stephenson just nail it!

Glory Crampton (Standby Stephanie Lamberti, Contessa Evangelina Di San Danielli, Cora)

My favorite Yeston song is "Home" from Phantom. It holds a special place for me, as I created the role of Christine in the world premiere of his show, and this was Christine's anthem song. Watching DEATH... unfold has brought up many heartwarming memories of the Phantom premiere. It's thrilling to watch this show unfold in the same way!

I have 2 favorite songs from the Death Takes A Holiday. The first is "Roberto's Eyes." It's a haunting song. Complex, soaring, and it creates a very real visual experience for me. I also like "I Thought That I Could Live" as it couldn't be sung better by Julian. Maury writes this emotionally charged, romantic, sweeping, classic sounding aria. You don't see many theater composers writing for legit voices. In my opinion no one does this better than Maury!!

Jessica Vosk (U/S - Alice, Daisy, Sophia)

My favorite Maury Yeston song is "The Bells of Sr. Sebastian" from NINE, which I had the pleasure of seeing when it was revived. I remember buying the album and listening to that song over and over again. The harmonies are gorgeous, and I love that it's the type of piece that keeps you on your toes as a listener. You don't know quite where it will go next.

Picking a favorite song in DEATH is ridiculously hard for me to do, because they are all so incredibly beautiful. The song "I Thought That I Could Live", which is sung by 'Death' in the second act, is melodically brilliant, powerful and captures the emotional journey we see him take throughout the show.