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Axelrod Performing Arts Center Presents Let's Face the Music…The Timeless Songs of Fred Astaire

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Axelrod Performing Arts Center Presents Let's Face the Music…The Timeless Songs of Fred Astaire On Sunday, April 8 at 3:00 p.m., Axelrod Performing Arts Center presents Let's Face the Music...The Timeless Songs of Fred Astaire featuring vocalists Danny Bacher and Alexis Cole, performing with an all-star jazz band led by Dr. Art Topilow on piano, with Aaron Weinstein on violin, Mike Lee on saxophone, Doug Clarke on guitar, Rudy Petschauer on percussion and Gary Mazzaroppi on bass. Special guests: two leading Broadway dancers, Cory Lingner ("On the Town," "American in Paris") and Eloise Kropp ("Dames at Sea," "CATS") choreographed by Gabriel Chajnik and Andrew Black.

This celebration of the Fred Astaire songbook features songs by all of the most-celebrated writers Broadway and Hollywood have produced, including George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, and Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.

Fred Astaire, elegantly dressed in his trademark top hat and tails, is the legendary song-and-dance man who starred in 10 Broadway and London musicals and over 40 Hollywood musical films in his eight-decades-long career, including ten with Ginger Rogers. While tapping, swaying and twirling on the sound stages of RKO and MGM, Astaire was the singer to introduce hundreds of songs in his pictures. Imagine in just one film, Shall We Dance, Astaire introduced three of George and Ira Gershwin's biggest hits: "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "They All Laughed" and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." Delivering a Gershwin tune was second nature to Astaire, as his connection to the Gershwin dated back to his and his sister Adele's days on Broadway. On the stage, Astaire introduced timeless songs like "Fascinatin' Rhythm," "My One and Only" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It."

In the 1936 movie Swing Time, Astaire struck gold singing and dancing a score by Jerome Kern (of Show Boat fame) and lyrics by Dorothy Fields: "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Fine Romance" and "Pick Yourself Up" all became instant classics, just like "I Won't Dance" from the film Roberta the previous year.

It is perhaps the songs of Irving Berlin that are the most closely associated with Astaire, including his signature songs "Top Hat and White Tie and Tails," "Isn't It a Lovely Day" and "Cheek to Cheek, all three in the film Top Hat. Other undeniably famous Astaire songs from the Berlin songbook include: "Stepping Out with My Baby," "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and "Puttin' on the Ritz." Berlin once observed, "I'd rather have Fred Astaire sing my songs than anyone else."

In the 1953 film The Band Wagon, Astaire starred opposite Cyd Charisse and performed the songs of Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, including such classics as "Dancing in the Dark," "You, the Night and the Music," "By Myself" and "That's Entertainment."

Tony Bennett sums it up best, "In America, at the beginning of talkies, they pulled Fred Astaire from the theaters and put him on the screen and had all of these great composers write songs for him. They call it the Great American Songbook; I call it the Fred Astaire Songbook because they were written for him."

Don't miss this one-time-only-show created exclusively for Axelrod Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 8 at 3:oo p.m. Tickets: $32 to $38, can be purchased online at www.axelrodartscenter.com; by phone (732) 531-9106, x14; or in person at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center, 100 Grant Ave., Deal Park. The theater offers ample free onsite parking and is completely handicap accessible. Group discounts available for parties of ten or more.

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs that enrich the imaginative, intellectual, and creative soul, while cultivating an appreciation of diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts. For more information, please visit www.axelrodartscenter.com.


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