by Ryan Leeds
While the tri-state area braces for a weekend full of chill and rain, the New Jersey Performing Arts center (NJPAC) forecast includes shining stars in rays of spotlight as it hosts their annual gala for the Women’s Association of NJPAC this Saturday, October 3 at 7 p.m..
This year’s event, under the musical direction of Sirius XM Broadway host Seth Rudestsky, will celebrate the songs of one of Broadway’s most well known composers, Stephen Sondheim.
Tony Award winners and nominees including James Monore Iglehart (Aladdin), Vanessa Williams (Into the Woods), Tony Yazbeck (On the Town), and special guest Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd) will present an evening of Sondheim songs. The program will also include a brief awards ceremony. Judy Kuhn, currently starring in the award winning hit Fun Home, will also join the starry lineup. The Broadway Blog caught up with her to discuss the event:
BB: How did you become involved in the NJPAC gala and what can audiences expect to hear from you on Saturday night?
JK: Seth Rudetsky and I are old friends and colleagues and Oberlin Alumni! He asked me to participate which I am thrilled to be doing. The audience can expect to hear some favorite tunes, but I don’t want to give away which ones!
BB: The Women’s Association of NJPAC shares the same mission as you with regards to Arts Education for students. Why is exposure to the performing arts so vital to younger audiences?
JK: I don’t think it can be overstated what arts programs of any kind do for young people, no matter their skills. It builds confidence, encourages and teaches self-expression and collaboration, all of which are crucial for success in any field they may want to go into.
BB: You are no stranger to Sondheim repertoire, having performed in his revival of Passion at Classic Stage Company. What is it about his vast collection of songs that inspires performers to constantly perform and reinvent them?
JK: No one writes for actors the way Sondheim does. He writes the way people think and speak, and the connection between words and music is profound. It is endless what you can explore in his writing.
BB: What is your all-time favorite Sondheim song and why?
JK: That is a tough one…I would say one of my favorites is from Passion: “I Wish I Could Forget You,” which Fosca sings to Giorgio in the form of a letter she dictates to him addressed to her. Complicated, layered and the most heart rending melody. I always loved that moment of the show.
For tickets and information to the NJPAC gala, visit: http://www.njpac.org/events/detail/spotlight-gala-2015
Here’s a sneak peek of Judy Kuhn and Seth Rudetsky