The legendary Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb provides the soundtrack for PBS’ First You Dream—The Music of Kander & Ebb, which premieres Friday, November 20, 2015, at 9:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). The program, based on the musical revue conceived by stage director Eric Schaeffer and music director David Loud, features some of the greatest and best-known Broadway songs ever written. The one-hour special is part of the fifth annual PBS Arts Fall Festival.
Kander and Ebb composed some of the most beloved Broadway scores of all time — including Cabaret, Chicago, Woman of the Year, Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Act — and more recently the musicals Curtains and The Scottsboro Boys. Their repertoire includes such timeless songs for stage and screen as “New York, New York” (from the Martin Scorsese film of the same name), “All That Jazz” (from Chicago) and “Money Makes the World Go Around” (from Cabaret). The team’s work has a long history of making superstars of their lead actors, from introducing Liza Minnelli to Broadway in Flora the Red Menace, to burnishing Chita Rivera’s career in the original production of Chicago, to introducing American audiences to Alan Cumming in the smash 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret.
First You Dream features a stellar cast of Broadway veterans singing the duo’s songs, including Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera, Porgy & Bess, Les Miserables), Heidi Blickenstaff (The Little Mermaid, The Addams Family, Something Rotten), Kate Baldwin (Finian’s Rainbow, Big Fish, Thoroughly Modern Millie), Julia Murney (Crimes of the Heart, First Lady Suite, Evita), Matthew Scott (Sondheim on Sondheim, Jersey Boys, A Catered Affair) and James Clow (Peter Pan, Wonderful Town, Company, She Loves Me).
“Songs from the Kander and Ebb catalog have been hugely significant contributions to our musical culture,” said Donald Thoms, PBS Vice President of Programming and festival curator. “First You Dream brings together a team of Broadway’s most talented artists paying homage to two of its legendary writers. This is a truly special performance program.”
“The repertoire of these two amazing songwriters showcases the American musical in its finest form,” said First You Dream producer and HMS Media co-founder Scott Silberstein. “Kander and Ebb never called attention to themselves; they instead focused on writing great songs to tell great stories, brought to life in this show by a powerhouse cast that embodies the enduring appeal of their music.”
Broadway recently hosted four Kander and Ebb creations, including The Visit (with Chita Rivera), Cabaret (with Alan Cumming, Michelle Williams and later, Emma Stone), the long-running Chicago and a two-night, in-concert performance of their 1968 hit, Zorba. Fred Ebb died in 2004, but John Kander continues to create new musicals and remains a dynamic creative force.
First You Dream was shot live at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois and produced by the 17-time Emmy Award-winning HMS Media. HMS co-founder Matt Hoffman directs, with lighting and production design by Todd L. Clark. Musical staging is by Karma Camp. Bill Brohn created orchestrations based on David Loud arrangements, and Paul Masse is associate music director and pianist. Previous HMS Media credits on PBS include A Christmas Carol: The Concert, Celtic Woman: Emerald, Under the Streetlamp and Second to None with Tina Fey.
Funding for the 2015 PBS Arts Fall Festival is made possible by generous support from the Anne Ray Charitable Trust. Additional funding for First You Dream was provided by The Bernard Family Foundation, The Meyer Family Foundation and The Family Guidance Center.
First You Dream—The Music of Kander & Ebb is part of the fifth PBS Arts Fall Festival, an eight-week series hosted this fall by Grammy-winning international music superstar Gloria Estefan. Presented on Friday nights through November 27, 2015, the Fall Festival features legendary artists, dazzling musical performances, captivating entertainment and complementary digital content. The Festival closes Nov. 27 with Great Performances “Andrea Bocelli: Cinema” featuring the renowned tenor in a concert that celebrates music of the silver screen.
The arts are a cornerstone of PBS’ Friday night primetime lineup in the fall, reaching more than 15 million viewers last season and underscoring PBS’ ongoing commitment to giving audiences the best of the arts on-air and online. Most programs will be available online at http://video.pbs.org/ following their broadcast premiere.