Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter With Emily Dickinson

The latest odd hybrid by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century, combining a one-woman show about the poetry and life of Emily Dickinson with a chamber music concert of 19th century composer Amy Beach,  is self-consciously tasteful and inadvertently tacky. Read more of this post


Watch Aladdin, Frozen and The Lion King at Disney Bryant Park Concert

This week’s Broadway at Bryant Park was an all-Disney concert, with cast members from three Disney musicals on Broadway — Aladdin, Frozen and The Lion King — performing 10 songs from the shows, beginning with “Circle of Life” from The Lion King, and ending with “Let It Go” from Frozen, sung initially by Caissie Levy and Patti Murin, but then joined by the performers from all three shows.

Watch videos of six of the numbers below, and the complete set list.
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Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope Review: Savion Glover Brings Back 1970s Black Musical Revue

There is a full-out gospel number, with swaying red choir robes, heavenly belting and devilishly deft dancing, in this last of this season’s Encores Off-Center concerts. But, as directed and choreographed by Savion Glover, whatever the talented cast is performing at any given moment —  whether the blues, soul, funk, jazz, rock, calypso or spoken-word poetry – “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope”  is entertaining enough to feel like a near-religious experience.  Or to put it the way I said it to myself during the very first song: “Holy Cow!”

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Gone Missing Review: Exploring Loss, Musically, Comically, and in Tribute to Michael Friedman

One of the real people that The Civilians theater troupe interviewed to put together “Gone Missing” resists the assignment, which is to tell them stories about objects she has lost, such as car keys or rings. “You don’t want to hear about people?” the cast member portraying the old woman asks in the Encores Off-Center revival of the 2003 show. “Well, sorry honey, after you’ve lost as many people as I have, you don’t care about material things.”

Her comment has a particular resonance in this production, which is being presented only twice at City Center, once last night and one tonight. “Gone Missing” is 75 minutes of stories and songs about losing things and even a mock radio interview with a loss expert.  But the nine songs  were written by Michael Friedman. Friedman was the newly appointed director of Off-Center Encores concert series when he died last year, from AIDS, at the age of 41. It’s easy to see “Gone Missing” as a tribute concert.

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Review: Songs For A New World and Lucky That Way. How Jason Robert Brown Owes His Career to Yoko Ono

Jason Robert Brown was in his twenties when he composed his first musical, “Songs For A New World,” its first production in New York lasting just 12 performances and changing people’s lives. The show was revisited at City Center this weekend in two separate ways, both of them wonderful.
“Songs For a New World” was revived as part of the Off-Center Encores concert series with a cast of four singers, five dancers, and a nine-person orchestra
And, in the upstairs lobby before that show, it was also the subject of a new 20-minute musical, “Lucky In That Way,” with four singers and a pianist, created by The Civilians, with lyrics and dialogue entirely based on interviews with the company of the original 1995 production of Brown’s show.
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Watch Stars From SpongeBob, Once On This Island, Mean Streets, Carousel Perform at Stars in the Alley

Performers from some 20 current Broadway shows offered a free concert in Shubert Alley, to celebrate the Broadway season just past, and whet appetites for the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10th.
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Symphonie Fantastique: Basil Twist’s innovative abstract puppet concert returns to HERE!

You can say that Harriet Smithson, a famous Shakespearean actress, is the star of the Symphonie Fantastique by composer Hector Berlioz; she is also in a way the star of the Symphonie Fantastique by MacArthur Foundation “genius” artist Basil Twist—although in the Berlioz, Harriet exists only as flirtatious notes from violins and a flute, while in the Twist, she’s a bed sheet. Or, more precisely, she looks like a white bed sheet, but she’s actually a puppet, one of the many puppets in Twist’s show, none of them conforming to any recognizable animal or vegetable or even mineral….The twentieth-anniversary production of Twist’s innovative abstract puppet concert is being presented at HERE, the theatre where it debuted in 1998 to great acclaim.


Full article on HowlRound



Rocktopia Review: Fusing Rock with Classical, Tuneful with Tacky

Singer Tony Vincent and guitarist Tony Bruno

“Imagine Mozart and Beethoven talking, and suddenly Freddie Mercury arrives,” singer Rob Evans said (in the only words anybody spoke all evening) about halfway through “Rocktopia.” If imagining this is painful to you, then you’re not a good fit for “Rocktopia,” which is subtitled “A Classical Revolution,” although it would be more accurate to subtitle it “A Rock Concert.”
“Rocktopia” mashes up pieces by, yes, Mozart and Beethoven as well as a dozen more classical composers with rock songs by, yes, Queen, as well as Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, the Beatles and more. (See full playlist below) I suspect Rocktopia would please rock fans more than classical music lovers, many of whom might consider it blasphemous – or at least blast-phemous. However, while some of the song pairings work better than others, for the open-minded (open-eared?), “Rocktopia” is an intriguing idea. If it winds up better than it sounds, it sounds way better than it looks.

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Hey Look Me Over Review: Encores! 25th anniversary concert

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Encores! concert series at City Center is doing something in “Hey Look Me Over” that it’s never done before – and, judging from the results, probably shouldn’t do again.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

Now, it’s impossible to dismiss a show with such a starry talented cast, including Bebe Neuwirth singing and dancing to Noel Coward’s Sail Away and Vanessa Williams singing and dancing from Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg’s “Jamaica.” Its delights were enough to make me glad I was there.
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Hundred Days Review: The Bengsons’ Concert About Their Love and Anxiety

In “Hundred Days,” a musically engaging autobiographical concert by The Bengsons, Abigail and Shaun Bengson tell us they met one another at “the first rehearsal of a massive anti-folk folk-punk old-timey neo soul band,” and they were married three weeks later. Their relationship terrified both of them – shy Shaun because he feared Abigail would leave him; anxious Abigail because when she was 15 years old she had had a dream that she would meet the love of her life, but that he would only have 100 days left to live.
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