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BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKES

Video-on-demand streaming of YOU I LIKE: A MUSICAL CELEBRATION OF JERRY HERMAN will be available to rent through February 7, 2021 at www.PlayhouseLive.org

BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKES

Andy Einhorn's tribute to his dear friend Jerry Herman YOU I LIKE: A MUSICAL CELEBRATION OF JERRY HERMAN virtually opened January 10, 2021. Conceived and music directed by Andy, this will be the first theatrical homage to Jerry Herman by a professional theatre company since his passing last year. Andy had Jerry Herman alumni Bernadette Peters and David Hyde Pierce join him for the opening night pre-chat. Safely filmed on The Pasadena Playhouse stage, familiar Jerry Herman classics (and not-so-familiar, undiscovered gems) will be wondrously performed by the uber-talented vocalists Ashley Blanchet, Nicholas Christopher, Lesli Margherita, Andrea Ross, Ryan Vona, and Andy himself.
Andy took some time after coming down from his opening night deserved high to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Andy!

Congratulations on your incredible tribute to Jerry Herman. I laughed and cried throughout your show. I especially loved the harmony of Lesli, Ashley and Andrea in "It's Today" (MAME) à la Andrew Sisters; also your three-part harmonies with Ryan and Nicholas in "You I Like" (THE GRAND TOUR). What inspired you to create these wonderful vocal arrangements?

BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESWell, thank you, first of all,for the kind words. I'm glad that the show had the intended effect! The vocal arrangements are all in the style of the great Don Pippin, who was Jerry's vocal arranger from MAME onward. Don was the vocal arranger for our HELLO, DOLLY! revival and I learned a lot from him about how to voice chords for Jerry's music. So I'm hoping these specific arrangements would make him proud!

What criteria do you use to determine solos vs. duets or group performances?

Within the context of YOU I LIKE, it was very important for me to think of what songs were well known, which were lesser known and then group them according to themes. I feel the evening really explores love, family, home, and optimism: some of BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESthose songs should be sung by many, others just solos. This revue began at the 92nd St. Y in February 2020 and Cady Huffman directed that for me. We spent a lot of time in that version creating a "show" for a live audience. When looking at something for the screen, it didn't always read honestly that five people should sing a song together. So I did take a few things that had been sung by the full group and pare it down to just two.

With Jerry's vast library of songs, how did you initially whittle down your selections to your final list for YOU I LIKE? Categorize them into comic, love ballads, message?

Carefully! Every song is a home run and I could have made a case for almost every Jerry Herman song. But in this case, I started thematically, and then I needed to make sure I had a good balance of up-tempo, ballads, comedy songs, love songs, etc.

BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESYou must have lots of fun seamlessly marrying Jerry Herman songs in medley - Andrea's gorgeous "It Only Takes a Moment" (HELLO DOLLY!) with "Let's Not Waste a Moment" (MILK & HONEY), and the phenomenal duet of Ashley's "Time Heals Everything" (MACK & MABEL) with Nicholas' "I Won't Send Roses" (MACK & MABEL). How many of your Jerry Herman medleys did you have to save for YOU I LIKE 2?

Ha, ha! I'll keep you posted for the next one. I did have some ideas that never made it so perhaps that'll inspire me for the sequel!

Two numbers made me break out in continuous laughter, Andrea's "Gooch's Song" (MAME) and Ryan's "Confession to a Park Avenue Mother" (PARADE), which I've never heard before. How did you choose who sang each of the YOU I LIKE songs?

BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESI always knew the show would have three women and two men (because then when I chimed in and "sang" it would make it an even three and three!) For the 92Y, once I had the cast assembled, I was able to start making the assignments. I choose the singer and song based on who I think will really make us listen to the lyric of that particular song. That often resulted in not always making the obvious choice of singer and song, thankfully!

When did you actually have the light bulb moment to create YOU I LIKE?

The ask was a bit more natural. I have had almost a 10-year association with Lyrics and Lyricists Series at the 92nd St Y and going into the 2020 season, they asked if I'd be willing to put together one featuring the works of Jerry Herman. Given my association with HELLO, DOLLY!, they figured it would make sense, and I agreed. That BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESwas probably in summer of 2019, but then Jerry passed away in December 2019, so the evening took on greater meaning for me. It then became important to create a real celebration of who Jerry was as an artist, and not just create a "then I wrote" kind of evening. Sadly, Jerry had not had his own Lyrics and Lyricists program since the early 1970s, so it was definitely time.

How did you first connect with Pasadena Playhouse to produce YOU I LIKE?

Danny Feldman, the Producing Artistic Director of Pasadena Playhouse, is a good pal of mine. He had seen an archival copy of the 92Y performance that we put online early in the pandemic. He immediately called me and said, "I will give you the stage for two days, bring the singers, and we'll shoot it beautifully!" From there, we began discussing how to adapt the piece from a live theater piece to something that would work in a cinematic way. And I have to give a huge shout out to my camera director, Mark Ciglar, who really did a masterful job of capturing this, editing it and bringing it to life.

BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESWhat was your rehearsal and filming process in these pandemic times?

Exciting, challenging and everything in between. COVID protocols were incredibly stringent, and I think all of us appreciated that. We each had numerous tests, masks were on at every moment except when the camera was rolling, and sanitizer was a plenty! Rehearsals were conducted with everyone six feet apart, fully masked at all times. But the "lemonade out of lemons" moment was actually getting to make this piece and be on a stage making music again.

What creative notes Jerry gave you while you were conductor/music director/music supervisor of the 2017 HELLO DOLLY! that you still abide by today?

Have fun, find the joy in the work, and be direct. He had a wit about him that was always kind, but straightforward. His music is meant to be presented in a very straight ahead way. That's what he always wanted preserved, and I live to bring that to life.

BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESWas it a no-brainer to pick Bernadette Peters and David Hyde Pierce to participate in your opening night pre-show?

Ha, ha! I'm incredibly lucky that they're both good friends and also lovers of Jerry Herman! So thankfully they both said, "Yes" when I asked them.

Any plans to bring YOU I LIKE to live theatre when it opens again?

I can dream, right? I think people are being touched by the magic of his work right now (especially during these turbulent times), so I'd love to see it onstage live for audiences so that we can have that real connection with people in the moment.

And what's next for Andy Einhorn?

Good question! I'm embarking on some new creative ventures with some unexpected collaborators. I have a few shows in development that really excite me. I think Audra (McDonald) and I will hopefully get to go back out on the road again and BWW Interview: Musical Director Andy Einhorn: Jerry Herman He LIKESwe have been adding some new material to our repertoire. But most importantly I'm just excited to see all the new shows that our industry is going to bring to life after this moment, and how the definition of theater continues to evolve and grow as we embrace new challenges and circumstances.

Thanks again, Andy! And thank you for a most entertaining, informative stroll down Jerry Herman memory lane. I will take your suggestion of looking for his original cast recordings, especially MACK & MABEL and PARADE.

Video-on-demand streaming of YOU I LIKE: A MUSICAL CELEBRATION OF JERRY HERMAN will be available to rent through February 7, 2021 at www.PlayhouseLive.org.


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