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All That Jazz And More: The New York Pops Celebrate Kander and Ebb

March 16th, 2017 Comments off

By Ryan Leeds

Tony Yazbeck, Steven Reineke, and Caissie Levy. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Tony Yazbeck, Steven Reineke, and Caissie Levy. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

There was more than enough razzle dazzle to blind Manhattan on Friday night as The New York Pops presented Life is a Cabaret: The Songs of Kander and Ebb. The always-stunning orchestra was joined by the equally fine talents of stage stars Tony Yazbeck and Caissie Levy. Yazbeck, who made his Broadway debut at the tender age of 11 in the 1989 revival of Gypsy, went on to star in the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line and the 2008 revival of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone. He received a Tony nomination for his role as Gabey in 2014 revival of On the Town.

Levy’s resume is also nothing to scoff at (nor is her astounding voice). The Canadian native has been seen on Broadway in Les Misérables, Ghost, Hair, and Wicked.

Near the beginning of the two-hour evening, conductor Steven Reineke mentioned that he had been wanting to do the concert for some time, but it seemed particularly appropriate to do it in March as composer John Kander turns 90 years old on March 18. Mr. Kander was in attendance, seated beside Tony-winning director Susan Stroman. The two worked together in 2010’s The Scottsboro Boys and by the end of the night, it was announced that they would be joining forces once again on a new musical called The Beast in the Jungle.

Tony Yazbeck and The New York Pops. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Tony Yazbeck and The New York Pops. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

To whittle down the body of work that Kander and his collaborator, the late Fred Ebb created is a near impossible task, but Reineke did an excellent job of selecting many notable songs.

The Pops kicked off the night with a suite from Chicago. It included “All That Jazz,” “Me and My Baby,” and  “Mr. Cellophane.”  Since the 1996 revival, the show has become ingrained in American culture and is still entertaining audiences at the Ambassador Theatre as the longest-running American musical on Broadway. It is one thing to hear this score on the original cast recording. It is yet another to hear it played by the full, lush New York Pops. The night started on a high point and continued to climb into the stratosphere.

Levy, in one of her many Liza Minnelli moments during the show, took to the stage with  “Sing Happy” from Flora, The Red Menace and struck a naughty spell with  “Mein Herr,”  from Cabaret. Levy, like Ms. Minnelli, proves herself a consummate performer, combining vocal finesse with the keen ability to act a song.

Yazbeck joined her on the complex, patter heavy “Money, Money” and the title song from Cabaret. Yazbeck charmed audiences with “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup” from 70, Girls, 70. 

Chicago was revisited with four selections: “Hot Honey Rag,” the jazzy orchestral number that begs for Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon, who masterfully executed Bob Fosse’s trademark choreography in the original production. “Roxie,” sung by Levy followed. Yazbeck closed the portion with “Razzle, Dazzle” and “All I Care About.” It was then announced that he would once again be joining the Broadway cast as Billy Flynn.

Caissie Levy performs with The New York Pops. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Caissie Levy performs with The New York Pops. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Act I ended with a rousing rendition of “Ring Them Bells,” another showstopper from Levy that was first performed by Minnelli in the television special, Liza With a Z in 1972.

Kiss of the Spider Woman earned Kander and Ebb seven Tony Awards for their 1993 hit and the Pops paid tribute to it, opening the second act with “Gimme Love.”

Although it wasn’t a critical success, Funny Lady (the film sequel to Funny Girl ) did yield an Academy Award-nominated song and Levy revived the Streisand classic, “How Lucky Can You Get.”

Yazbeck delivered one of the more poignant moments of the night as he sat on a stool, accompanied only on piano and sang a painfully beautiful version of “Sometimes A Day Goes By,” from Woman of the Year. Then the debonair triple threat shifted gears with the rousing  “City Lights” from The Act.

Levy followed with “Colored Lights” from 1984’s The Rink. The show was one of Kander’s proudest musicals but failed to win the hearts of critics. Still, it included the lovely waltz, performed to absolute perfection by the night’s leading lady. Next came  “Everybody’s Girl,” from Steel Pier.

The Pops reclaimed the spotlight with “Minstrel March” from The Scottsboro Boys.

Yazbeck channeled his inner diva for the following two numbers: “You, You, You”, a song that was originally written for Chita Rivera in 2015’s The Visit, followed by “And the World Goes ‘Round,” which Minnelli made famous in the film New York, New York. 

Levy ended the night with a heartfelt rendition of “Maybe This Time,” from Cabaret. Thunderous applause ensued and an encore of “New York, New York” followed.

John Kander and Fred Ebb had their share of hits and flops throughout their decades-long partnership, but they remain two of the most dynamic writing teams in musical theater history. Kudos to Reineke and The New York Pops for showcasing their work and choosing two amazing talents to carry out this vision.

The NY Pops’ next concert will be You’ve Got a Friend: A Celebration of Singers and Songwriters on April 21 at Carnegie Hall.


Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter 
@Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

 

 

15 Minutes with Tony Yazbeck

March 6th, 2017 Comments off
Tony Yazbeck (Photo: Emma Mead via The Broadway Blog.)

Tony Yazbeck (Photo: Emma Mead via The Broadway Blog.)

Mrs. Yazbeck might not have had a dream about her son being on the Orpheum circuit, but she knew that her son, Tony, was meant for a Broadway stage. For two years, she drove the future Tony nominee to and from their home in Bethlehem, PA. to the St. James Theatre to perform as a newsboy in the 1989 revival of Gypsy. The production marked his Broadway debut. Yazbeck would go on to star in the revival of A Chorus Line, On the Town, and the 2014 version of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone.

On Friday, March 10, Tony Yazbeck will join another Broadway baby, Caissie Levy, and The New York Pops for a night of Kander and Ebb.

Recently, the song and dance man chatted over the phone about his new role as a father and Pops Ambassador, as well as his career and what audiences can expect from a night at Carnegie filled with “Razzle Dazzle.”

Tony Yazbeck (Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock, Inc.)

Tony Yazbeck (Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock, Inc.)

BB: I know that new parents love to talk about their children. Tell us about your newborn. 
TY: It’s your entire world now. It opens you up as a person and makes you more vulnerable. You have an instantaneous feeling of ‘I will die for you.’ It settles your mind and heart. It’s constant love. He’s a cool dude and I hope he loves his parents as much as we love him. When they say they grow up in a heartbeat, they aren’t kidding! Leonard Blaise Yazbeck was 4 weeks old on March 1.

BB: Are you getting any sleep? 
TY: Oh! That’s relative. My wife is the real trooper and I’m just trying to be there for her as best as I can.

BB: How did you land your first Broadway show, Gypsy, at the tender age of 11? 
TY: I was living in Bethlehem, PA, at the time, religiously taking dance classes. My mom saw an ad that they were casting newsboys. We went to the call at the stage of the St. James theatre and had to sing, dance, and play the clarinet. Before the day was done, the casting director, Stuart Howard, brought my parents and me downstairs and offered me the part right away. I started work two days later with three days of rehearsal and was put into the show on the fourth day.

BB: That version starred Tyne Daly. You were probably wondering who she was. 
TY: I learned from the older actors who everyone was and they told me that she’s an incredible actress. I thought, ‘well, I guess I have to watch her!’ Every night, I would watch her sing “Some People” from the wings. Watching her affect an audience like that was amazing.

BB: Did your career continue after Gypsy or did you take a break? 
TY: I was 13 years old when it closed and it was at a point when a boy goes through puberty. I auditioned for The Will Rogers Follies and they told me that I was too big. It was rather disparaging to think that I was no longer a kid in the business. So, I went back to school. I ended up graduating high school at a performing arts school in Florida, then went to school in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, moved to New York City, and continued my goal of reaching Broadway again.

BB: Is this your Carnegie Hall debut? 
TY: As a solo performer? For sure. I was in the concert version of South Pacific with Reba McIntyre and Brian Stokes Mitchell. To this day, Mitchell’s version of “This Nearly Was Mine” is one of my favorites.

BB: You’ll be singing songs from the legendary team of Kander and Ebb. What is it about their body of work that people find so appealing? 
TY: They write for the underdog. I’ve been looking at a lot of their lyrics that I haven’t seen since college. They are so clever! It’s amazing to see that the words they wrote years ago still pertain to today. It’s neat to see songwriters like this that are so timeless.

BB: Can you share some of the songs that you’ll be singing? 
TY: I’ll be doing “City Lights,” “And the World Goes Round.” Also, Caissie Levy and I are doing “New York, New York” and many others.

BB: You are an ambassador for NY Pops as well. What do you do in that capacity? 
TY: I just started that role. I’ve always been interested in youth education programs. It’s about constantly increasing awareness, which is so important. I’ll be going into schools and teaching the importance of music and the arts. It just heightens our awareness as people and our society.

BB: Is there anything in the pipeline for you? 
TY: I’m on a few episodes of Billions on Showtime right now and I’ll probably be doing a Broadway show later this year that will be announced soon!

Life is a Cabaret: The Songs of Kander and Ebb
Featuring The New York Pops with Tony Yazbeck and Caissie Levy
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium
881 Seventh Avenue
March 10, 8 p.m.

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

 

 

The New York Pops Celebrate Lerner and Loewe

October 19th, 2016 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

(l to r) Colin Donnell, Laura Osnes, Steven Reineke and Nathan Gunn performing with The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Colin Donnell, Laura Osnes, Steven Reineke and Nathan Gunn performing with The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall. (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

To paraphrase the famous song from My Fair Lady: “I Could Have Danced Most of the Night.” I’m referring to The New York Pops’ recent concert at Carnegie Hall that celebrated that paid tribute to the works of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

Under the exciting baton of conductor Steven Reineke, the orchestra, along with Essential Voices USA and some special guest stars, paid tribute to two of the greatest musical theater collaborators of the mid 20th century. Together, these hit makers penned Camelot, Gigi, Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, and My Fair Lady (the last of which is celebrating its 60th anniversary).

The Pops is known for drawing top-level talent from the Broadway and Operatic worlds. Friday’s concert brought Colin Donnell, a tenor best known for his onstage work in Violet, Anything Goes, and Jersey Boys. Television audiences may recognize him as Dr. Conner Rhodes in the NBC drama, Chicago Med. Opera star Nathan Gunn was also on hand, offering his rich baritone talents to the evening. Gunn has straddled opera and musical theater portraying leading men in both genres. Laura Osnes, one of Broadway’s new leading ladies who was discovered on the reality show, Grease: You’re The One That I Want, rounded out the trio.

The orchestra opened with a lush cornucopia of the duo’s works, followed by selections from Camelot and Gunn delivering the title song. Reineke shared a piece of trivia that the original Broadway cast recording remained on the pop music charts for 60 weeks upon its release in 1960. Gunn’s commanding presence and lush voice is perfectly suited to this material and the Pops made a fine choice in adding him to the roster.

After a thrilling start, the night hit musical molasses with “What Do the Simple Folk Do?”—a song so long that one might be tempted to run out, do an entire load of laundry, and return to catch one of the umpteen verses. Entire portions of the song were removed from Camelot’s movie adaptation. Gunn and Osnes handled it as best they could, but it is a song that is better suited contextually rather than in concert form

Donnell filled the shoes of Lancelot, closing the Camelot portion with “If Ever I Would Leave You.” With his boyish charm and handsome looks, Donnell could easily slip into the role of a prince. Vocally, however, his voice is better suited to rock/pop. He tended to reach for notes as though it were a difficult strain and wore the material like an ill-fitting suit.

Selections from Lerner and Loewe’s lesser successful shows came next. Although not as well-known as their other works, Paint Your Wagon is still dense with some great songs and this section shone a spotlight on Essential Voices USA, particularly in “They Call the Wind Maria” and “There’s a Coach Comin’ In/I’m On My Way.” The chorus has rarely sounded finer.

Osnes opened the next part of the program with “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight” and other selections from Gigi. Her voice floated effortlessly like a songbird, and her professional poise proving that she can handle material well beyond the bubble gum pop of Grease. (She has also appeared in the short-lived Bonnie and Clyde and the critically acclaimed production of Rodgers +Hammerstein’s Cinderella.) Aside from another “laundry time” song, “I Remember It Well,” the Pops closed out the first act on a high note.

Selections from Brigadoon opened the second act and Donnell’s “Come to Me, Bend to Me” was less strained than his earlier selections. The quiet song may well be one of the Lerner and Loewe’s most beautiful melodies. “Heather on The Hill,” “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean,” and the recognizable “Almost Like Being in Love” were also included.

The night ended with what is arguably the pair’s most cherished works, My Fair Lady. Much chatter in the theater community has been bandied about a revival. Should it happen, Osnes would be a shoe-in. Her voice sailed across the hall in “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” and “Show Me.” The gentlemen and chorus added contrasting buoyancy with “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “On The Street Where You Live,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”

With the exception of a few plodding moments, it was a dance well worth attending, thanks largely in part to Reineke’s enthusiasm. The Pops will continue their season on November 11 with a Concert for Courage, honoring the brave men and women of the armed forces. December 16 and 17 they will “Make the Season Bright” with sisters Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway, brothers Will and Anthony Nunziata, and Essential Voices USA.

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

 

Categories: Way Off Broadway Tags:

Don’t Miss: The NY Pops Celebrate Lerner and Loewe

September 15th, 2016 Comments off

New York Pops

The New York Pops, led by Music DirectorSteven Reineke, will launch its 34th season at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, celebrating the legacy and timeless works of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of their landmark production of My Fair Lady, The New York Pops will highlight the songwriting team’s iconic collaborations from the Golden Age of Broadway, including selections from Camelot, Brigadoon, Gigi, and Paint Your Wagon.

Guest artists Colin Donnell and Laura Osnes of Broadway fame, alongside operatic baritone Nathan Gunn, will bring these legendary show tunes to life with the full 78-piece New York Pops. The orchestra and soloists will be joined by Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA.

“Lerner and Loewe wrote some of the greatest songs in the history of musical theater,” said Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke. “My Fair Lady defined musical theater for a generation or more, and the soaring melodies and clever lyrics are absolutely timeless. We have a stellar lineup of guest artists for this opening night concert – Colin, Nathan, and Laura all have incredible voices, and I am so proud that we will perform these tunes in the grandiose orchestrations that only The New York Pops can truly bring to life.”

“In addition, we are so pleased to be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of our Kids in the Balcony program this season! ” said Reineke. “Since it began in 1991, we have brought more than 37,000 students to Carnegie Hall free of charge.”

For more information, visit www.newyorkpops.org.

New York Pops Goes Underground

July 14th, 2016 Comments off
Montego Glover (Photo: BrentDundore.com via The Broadway Blog.)

Montego Glover (Photo: BrentDundore.com via The Broadway Blog.)

The New York Pops will return to Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City on September 19 for a cabaret performance starring Tony nominees Montego Gloverand Joshua Henry. The night will be an intimate evening of dining and entertainment led by Music Director Steven Reineke as two of Broadway’s most talented stars perform some of their favorite tunes.

“The New York Pops annual cabaret evening is one of our most intimate and exciting events each year,” said Music Director Steven Reineke. “The event raises money for our vital music education programs, which reach thousands of New York City children each year. Montego and Joshua have both performed with the full orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and they are both absolutely stunning talents and extraordinarily kind people. I am so looking forward to hearing them up-close and personal with pared down arrangements, and I promise that everyone is going to have a great time.”

All proceeds will support The New York Pops’ PopsEd music programs, which reach over 4,000 New York City students each year.

For tickets visit www.newyorkpops.org.

Montego Glover
just completed starring to critical acclaim in The Royale at Lincoln Center Theater after starring on Broadway in the award winning revival of Les Misérables as Fantine. Glover is a Tony Award Nominee, two-time Drama Desk Award Winner, Outer Critics Circle Award Winner, and Drama League Award Nominee for originating the role of Felicia Farrell in the Tony-winning Best Musical Memphis. Other Broadway: It Shoulda Been You, The Color Purple. Other theatre: IRNE Award (Aida), Helen Hayes Nomination (Once on This Island), Craig Noel Award Nomination (The Royale). TV/Film:  AloneBlack BoxThe FollowingHostagesSmashThe Good WifeWhite CollarGolden BoyLaw & OrderMade In Jersey.

Ms. Glover has served as a member of the Artists’ Committee for the Kennedy Center Honors and is a PopsEd Ambassador to the New York Pops. She is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.

Joshua Henry (Photo:  Jason Goodrich via The Broadway Blog.)

Joshua Henry (Photo: Jason Goodrich via The Broadway Blog.)

Joshua Henry is currently starring as Noble Sissle in Scott Rudin’s new Broadway musical Shuffle Along (through July 24) opposite Audra McDonald. Shuffle Along is directed by George C. Wolfe and choreographed by Savion Glover. Joshua just filmed a lead role in the action thriller The Lake opposite J.K. Simmons and Sullivan Stapleton which will be released in January 2017. He received critical acclaim for his Tony nominated turn opposite Sutton Foster in the musical Violet on Broadway, which garnered him Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Award nominations for his thrilling, show-stopping performance. He was previously nominated for a Tony Award for his starring role in Susan Stroman’s The Scottsboro Boys. Joshua’s other Broadway credits include leading roles in Diane Paulus’ revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Green Day’s American Idiot.

This past season, Joshua sang with Sutton Foster in concert with The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He is scheduled to return to the Houston Symphony in February 2017 in an original show called A Salute to Stevie Wonder. In March of 2017 he’ll be starring at Carnegie Hall in the show Life is A Cabaret: The Songs of Kander and Ebb. He also recently starred as Jim Conley at Avery Fisher Hall in Jason Robert Brown’s Parade. 

Matthew Morrison, Megan Hilty & The New York Pops

July 1st, 2016 Comments off
Matthew Morrison (Photo: DFree / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

Matthew Morrison (Photo: DFree / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

The New York Pops will return to its new summer home, Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York, for a program starring Tony nominees Megan Hilty and Matthew Morrison. After a wildly successful outing at the open-air venue in summer 2015, The New York Pops is proud to return to Queens with a full orchestra. The concert will also continue the expanded version of the orchestra’s Kids in the Balcony program, offering 1,000 children an opportunity to attend and learn about live music for free.

“I am beyond thrilled to return to the stadium – we had such a blast last summer, and I know that the orchestra, Matthew, and Megan are going to knock it out of the park in July!” said music director Steven Reineke. “Matthew and Megan have performed with the orchestra before, and they are always absolutely electric. I am so glad they will bring their larger-than-life talent to join our full orchestra in this incredible venue. This concert is going to be a home run!”

“The New York Pops is both an iconic and influential organization that embodies the spirit of New York. AT&T is proud to support this organization that has dedicated itself to not only delivering the highest quality of entertainment, but ensuring that every New Yorker has access to lifelong learning regardless of background,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State President of AT&T.

The New York Pops concerts at Forest Hills Stadium are family-friendly events, with tickets beginning at $15. Food and beverage is available for purchase on the stadium grounds.

Forest Hills Stadium events have been made possible through a partnership with the local community, with a focus on making concerts a rewarding experience for all involved. Dedicated entrance and exits have been constructed to manage audience flow. The stadium is conveniently located feet from the E, M, F, R subway trains as well as the LIRR and concert-goers are strongly encouraged to utilize public transportation as there is no parking available at the stadium or in the surrounding community.

The New York Pops annual subscription series at Carnegie Hall will open on October 14, 2016 with “The Musical World of Lerner and Loewe,” featuring Colin Donnell, Nathan Gunn, and Laura Osnes with Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA.

Don’t Miss: New York Pops Gala, May 2

March 7th, 2016 Comments off

New York PopsOn Monday, May 2, 2016, The New York Pops presents its 33rd birthday gala, celebrating the revolutionary collaborations of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, the songwriting team behind Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, and more. Serving as Honorary Co-Chairs for the event are musical theatre legends Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Patti LuPone.

The event begins at 7 p.m. with a concert in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, featuring a spectacular lineup of guest artists under the baton of Music Director Steven Reineke. The performance will highlight Boublil and Schönberg’s tremendous four-decade partnership. Guest artists Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Montego Glover, Robert Marien, Laura Osnes, and Kyle Scatliffe join the previously announced Stephanie J. Block, Jon Jon Briones, Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis, Patti LuPone, Eva Noblezada, John Owen-Jones, Hugh Panaro, Lea Salonga, and Marie Zamora. The concert will also feature Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA, as well as students from The New York Pops’ Kids on Stage music education program and Camp Broadway Kids.

The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, and the only professional symphonic orchestra in New York City specializing in popular music. Under the leadership of dynamic Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke, The New York Pops continues to re-imagine orchestral pops music. The orchestra performs an annual subscription series and birthday gala at Carnegie Hall. The New York Pops is dedicated to lifelong learning, and collaborates with public schools, community organizations, children’s hospitals and senior centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. PopsEd allows thousands of New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to participate in fully customizable music programs that blend traditional education with pure fun.

For tickets, visit www.newyorkpops.org.

New York Pops 33rd Birthday Gala

New York Pops 33rd Birthday Gala

Categories: The Buzz Tags:

Sutton Foster, New York Pops, and a Season to Remember

August 10th, 2015 Comments off

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Sutton Foster, Steven Reineke, and The New York Pops (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Sutton Foster, Steven Reineke, and The New York Pops (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

The New York Pops celebrated its new summer home at Forest Hills Stadium with two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster. The program was similar to her Carnegie Hall performance earlier this spring—which isn’t a bad thing. Foster, who currently stars in the TV Land show Younger, was in great voice and sounded tremendous thanks to impeccable sound design by Dan Gerhard.

Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke—charismatic as always—kept the 72-piece orchestra nimble. For those who are fans of the American Songbook and Broadway classics, The Pops is a magnificent celebration of sound. Evening highlights included Foster’s renditions of “Down with Love” and a campy serenade to her dog, Mabel, set to the melody of “Maybe This Time” by Kander and Ebb but dubbed “Mabel This Time.” The Pops’ now legendary “The History of the TV Overture” had audience members guessing at the classics and Foster had everyone on their feet with an encore of “Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Steven Reineke conducting The New York Pops (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Steven Reineke conducting The New York Pops (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Though summer is coming to an end, The New York Pops returns home to Carnegie Hall with a season that promises to deliver star-studded evenings with some of Broadway’s best, including:

My Favorite Things: The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein
Featuring Sierra Boggess and Steven Pasquale
October 9, 2015

Sophisticated Ladies
Featuring Montego Glover, Capathia Jenkins, and Sy Smith
November 13, 2015

It’s Christmas Time in the City
Featuring Stephanie J. Block and Brian d’Arcy James
December 18 and 19, 2015

42nd on 57th: Broadway Today
Featuring Jeremy Jordan and Betsy Wolfe
March 11, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action: Spielberg and Williams
April 8, 2016

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.newyorkpops.com.

The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala

May 7th, 2015 Comments off

by Mark Lingenfelter

The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Alan Cumming proclaimed, “Even the orchestra is beautiful!” when he kicked off the New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala Concert with his performance of “Willkommen” from Cabaret. In an evening that was a tribute to music honorees, brother and sister director/choreographers Rob and Kathleen Marshall, there were many fine performances from Broadway’s current theater royalty, as well as a Queen (Latifah) and King (Ken Watanabe, of Lincoln Center’s current revival of The King and I).

Under the watchful eye of musical director and conductor Steven Reineke, the 78-piece orchestra played songs from the Great White Way, as well as two film scores, all of which had a Marshall connection. The evening was dubbed “The New Golden Age” with a special focus given to songs from Broadway’s Golden era that one (or both) of the Marshalls have worked on in either revivals or television and film productions.

In addition to Cumming’s “Willkommen” from Cabaret, many other performers recreated their original roles for the tribute concert. Victor Garber gave us “Those Were the Good Old Days” from the 1994 revival of Damn Yankees, Brian Stokes Mitchell hammed up “Where is the Life That Late I Led?” from Kiss Me, Kate, and Sutton Foster returned to the Pops for the first time since her Carnegie Hall debut earlier this season to belt the title song from the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes.

As a nod to the film version of Nine, Laura Benanti gave us a lovely and simple “Unusual Way” from the Maury Yeston score and Kelli O’Hara showed up on her night off from The King and I to deliver the Gershwin classic “Someone to Watch Over Me” from Nice Work if You Can Get It. But it was surprise guest Renee Fleming, who starred in this season’s short-lived Living On Love, who brought down the house with her unamplified rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. That moment has us all living on love… for Renee.

There were two moments in the concert that tugged at the heartstrings and both involved the next generation of performers. Camp Broadway, billed as “Broadway’s original enrichment program for theater-loving kids” showed up to sing an energetic  “76 Trombones” from The Music Man. I don’t know how many campers there were, but it seemed as if there was a least one for each trombone! And Rob McClure, of the recently closed Honeymoon in Vegas, arrived with some friends from the Ronald McDonald House New York to sing “You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile” from Annie, a number that certainly put smiles on the entire Carnegie Hall audience.

The evening wrapped up with three Kander and Ebb selections. Bebe Neuwirth pumped iron with her mic stand during the vamp leading into “All That Jazz” from Chicago. This woman’s shoulder isolations and voice don’t age! Queen Latifah was good to us when she recreated her “When You’re Good to Mama” from the film version of Chicago. And Cumming led the cast (including those kids!) in a finale of “Cabaret.”

Be sure to check out the Pops at their summer home this August at the Forest Hills Stadium in Forest Hills, Queens. August 6 will feature Sutton Foster and August 7 will feature Pink Martini.

The NY Pops 2015-2016 season kicks off Friday, October 9 with My Favorite Things: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Curious about the Rob and Kathleen Marshall theatrical timeline? Take a look at some of their most notable projects!

MV5BMTY4MzQ4OTY3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjM5MDI3MjE@._V1__SX1189_SY612_Rob Marshall

2014 – Into the Woods film (director)
2009 – Nine film (director)
2002 – Chicago film (director)

2014 – Cabaret revival (co-direction and choreography)
1998 – Little Me revival (direction and choreography)
1998 – Cabaret revival (co-direcdtion and choreography)
1996 – A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (choreography)
1995 – Victor/Victoria (choreography)
1994 – Damn Yankees revival (choreography)

Kelli O'Hara & Matthew Broderick in "Nice Work If You Can Get It". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kelli O’Hara & Matthew Broderick in “Nice Work If You Can Get It”. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kathleen Marshall

2015 – Living on Love (direction)
2012 – Nice Work If You Can Get It (direction and choreography)
2011 – Anything Goes revival (direction and choreography)
2007 – Grease revival (direction and choreography)
2006 – The Pajama Game revival (direction and choreography)
2003 – Wonderful Town revival (direction and choreography)
2003 – Little Shop of Horrors revival (choreography)
2001 – Follies revival (choreography)
2002 – Seussical (choreography)
1999 – Kiss Me, Kate revival (choreography)

Exclusive Interview: 15 Minutes with Kathleen Marshall

May 1st, 2015 Comments off

b-4879_ny_popsWhere will you be on Monday, May 4? If you want to roll with Broadway glitterati, then head to Carnegie Hall for the New York Pops’ 32nd Birthday Gala featuring music honorees Kathleen and Rob Marshall. There must have been something in the water in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the siblings grew up and first honed their theatrical talents.

Older brother Rob has had his hands (and feet) in 15 Broadway shows, along with a few films you may have heard of, like Into the Woods, Chicago, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Kathleen first began as his assistant on Kiss of the Spider Woman and has gone on to take the directing reigns for such notable revivals as Anything Goes and the Pajama Game. This season she directed the comedy Living On Love starring Renée Fleming and Douglas Sills.

The Broadway Blog had a chance to chat with Kathleen during a rehearsal break for Ever After, a new musical (based on the 1998 film starring Drew Barrymore) opening this month at Paper Mill Playhouse.

Kathleen Marshall (photo provided by Dan Dutcher via The Broadway Blog.)

Kathleen Marshall (photo provided by Dan Dutcher via The Broadway Blog.)

BB: Congratulations on your New York Pops honor! Since the evening will pay tribute to both you and your brother, I’m curious as to your evolutions both as directors and choreographers. Are there aspects of your training as youths that carry with you today?

Kathleen: Thank you! I think we have similar tastes because of the fact that we grew up having the same experiences such as family trips and seeing all sorts of shows like ballet, symphony, opera and musicals. We also have a similar way of working, which I learned from assisting him. It was really more like an apprenticeship. Like most choreographers from Fosse to Jerome Robbins, it’s a craft that is passed down. We both like to be prepared and go in with a blueprint. You’re actually more flexible and can adapt that way, so I’d say we’re more similar than different.

BB: How is it that you came to be known as the great resurrector (both as director and choreographer) of classic musicals? 

Kathleen: I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era but I’m lucky that I get to reinvent them. It’s a combination of what you’re drawn to and projects that you’re offered. But what draws me in is the music and those wonderful scores. And I’m attracted to musical comedy. They have great plot, character and story telling. They’re serious comedies and not camp.

BB: The Tony Award nominations were pretty controversial this year and Living on Love, which you directed, is closing after just a few short weeks. How are you able to take it in stride and move on to the next project?

Kathleen: We all work on shows that we love and we put them forward in their best light. The rest is not up to us. What we control is what we put in front in the audience. We know Living On Love has a wonderful affect on audiences. It’s a comedy, so if they don’t like it, we can tell! It’s just heartbreaking in this crowded and noisy season that we didn’t get traction for a new American play that isn’t based on a film or revival. It’s hard to build an audience. You never know. But we’re very proud of it and I wouldn’t change a thing.

BB: You’re in the middle of rehearsal for the new musical Ever After. What is it about the project that resonated for you and what are you discovering in the rehearsal process?

Kathleen: Oh, this incredible cast! We’ve got Christine Ebersole, Charles Shaughnessy, Margot Seibert… it’s a new musical so they’re giving us new pages every day. The score is so beautiful and it takes a story that we’re sort of familiar with and gives it a new twist and unexpected look.

There are still limited tickets available for the 32nd New York Pops Birthday Gala, which will feature appearances by Queen Latifah, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara, Alan Cumming, Brian Stokes Mitchell and more. Click here for tickets.

The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala (photo provided by Dan Dutcher via The Broadway Blog.)

The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala (photo provided by Dan Dutcher via The Broadway Blog.)