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Oscar Hammerstein II

Carmen Jones

July 1, 2018

Unlike the musicals "Rent" (an update on Puccini’s "La Boheme"), and "Miss Saigon' (inspired by Puccini’s "Madame Butterfly") both of which had all new music by other composers for their contemporary stories, "Carmen Jones" uses the original Bizet score. However, it is not simply an English translation. Hammerstein has written all new lyrics to place the story in a W.W. II Southern community (possibly North Carolina) and with the characters ending up in Chicago for the denouement. While "Carmen Jones" was a smash hit originally running for 503 performances at the Broadway Theatre during the war years, some like then critic James Baldwin found the dialect that Hammerstein had used for his African-American characters both embarrassing and demeaning, and the show has not had a New York revival until now. Notwithstanding, the first London production in 1991-92 was also a tremendous success at the Old Vic Theatre with a mix of both opera and theater stars in the cast. [more]

Carousel

April 22, 2018

If it seemed like no staging could ever top London’s National Theatre production (which was directed by Nicholas Hytner and came to Lincoln Center in the mid 1990’s), this newer version epitomizes the notorious relationship between anticipation and realization. Though the advance word during the extensive preview period was rather negative, Jack O’Brien’s "Carousel" proves up there with the best. [more]

92nd Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: I Have Confidence: Rodgers After Hammerstein

May 26, 2016

Above the stage on a screen throughout the presentation were projected photographs illustrating Rodgers’ career and appropriate backdrops for the locales of the shows. Brief insightful video interviews with Rodgers’ daughter Linda, lyricists Sheldon Harnick and Martin Charnin, playwright Sherman Yellen, historian Ken Bloom, Rodgers grandson Peter Melnick, record producer Thomas Z. Shepard, and the actor John Cullum were shown. A 1974 Public Television interview conducted by James Day showed the aged Rodgers ravaged by strokes and throat cancer but still vital and articulate. [more]

Richard Holbrook: Richard Sings Rodgers with a Lot of Heart – Revised and Updated

October 19, 2015

As always, Holbrook was dapper in his signature tux and brought real class and style to the stage. His rich, tenor voice was soothing to the ears and stirred the packed audience, mostly an older crowd, into reminiscing with him about the old days when these songs were written. Their enthusiasm was undeniable, underscored by their continuous applause. Holbrook's vocal instrument is not particularly robust but, what he lacks in volume, he makes up for in passion; a great interpreter, he really feels the music and sings with a lot of heart just like the title of his cabaret. This, along with his great stage presence, connects him with his audience and they find themselves being reeled in. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1941-1965

April 4, 2015

In the course of Mr. Siegel’s erudite remarks, the work of key figures responsible for these often classic musicals recurred. Composer and lyricist Cole Porter was represented by four shows, composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II by three shows, as was composer Jule Styne. Most monumental was the achievement of legendary producer David Merrick who was responsible for bringing five of the shows to Broadway. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940

February 28, 2015

Director Mindy Cooper’s very well executed transitions between the show’s 27 numbers, the personable Scott Siegel’s erudite remarks, and the variety of gifted performers who participated made "Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940" a brisk and very enjoyable event. [more]

Allegro

December 2, 2014

"Allegro" was inspired by Thornton Wilder's Our Town which also uses no scenery and uses the actors as a chorus commenting on the action. Aside from the actors all playing stringed instruments when the show begins (as well as other instruments in the course of the show such as piano, clarinets, oboe, etc.) in Mary-Mitchell Campbell's folksy new orchestrations, they remain on stage throughout as they both narrate and give advice to its hero Joseph Taylor, Jr. [more]

Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “Getting to Know You: Rodgers and Hammerstein”

March 29, 2014

Every song was well chosen to demonstrate the versatility and range of R & H and the singers all met the challenge. Rebecca sang the often neglected "The Gentleman is a Dope" (Allegro) and turned it into a showstopper. The show closed with "Edelweiss" (Sound of Music) that Ted said people think is an old Austrian folk song but was written by these legendary collaborators. It was the perfect ending for a wonderful tribute to a never to be duplicated writing team whose shows and music will live forever. [more]