Uncover the Stories Behind Broadway Greats with Legendary Host June LeBell
Sarasota, FL — Jan. 29, 2007 — Join host June LeBell for an in-depth yet informal yet entertaining look into the way the greats of Broadway mirrored American society throughout the 20th century in the Genius of the American Musical Theater, a series of six programs, at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s Historic Asolo Theater beginning Feb. 13, 2007 at 11 a.m.
LeBell will explore the lives of Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Wright and Forrest, Porter, Gershwin and Berlin in a way that makes the audience feel as if they intimately know each one of them.. Each session will have special surprise guest and live performances.
LeBell, renowned music critic and the first female broadcaster for New York City’s famed WQXR classical music station, quickly and effortlessly guides the audience into a world where the glamour, personalities and passions of Broadway stars are revealed.
"In my years doing these programs for WQXR, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
and several other venues, I've found that the songs of Gershwin, Lerner & Loewe, Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin and our other great song writers (ie: The Sounds of Broadway) have become our great American classics. They are as difficult to sing as German Lieder and Italian opera, and they mirror the hearts and minds of Americans through the decades." said LeBell, "Each of my programs at the Historic Asolo will feature live performances, informal conversations with my guests and filmed excerpts of original performances from the shows we all love and know: South Pacific, The King
and I, Kismet, My Fair Lady, and Candide. It's music and lyrics that will lift you up and make you smile."
The audience member’s voices become part of the program as LeBell leads the group in a sing-along of famous songs at the end of each conversation. “All the words will be provided giving guests no excuse not to join in the fun,” LeBell said.
The topics are:
- Feb. 13, 2007, 11 a.m. - Irving Berlin with Baritone Daniel Hoffman and Pianist Elizabeth Goldstein
One of the most prodigious songwriters in American history, Irving Berlin both wrote music and lyrics to all of his songs although he never learned to read music beyond a rudimentary level. Composing over 3,000 songs, most notably White Christmas, There’s No Business Like Show Business and Puttin’ on the Ritz, Berlin left a permanent mark on American culture that lives on long after his death at age 101.
- Feb. 27, 2007, 11 a.m. - Rodgers & Hammerstein with soprano Carole Cornman
Rodgers and Hammerstein, successors of the Rodgers & Hart duo, found fame composing Broadway musicals during the “golden age” of 1940s and 1950s. Over a 20-year period the duo wrote nine musicals together with five of them reaching unrivaled success. Still highly in demand today, these musicals are performed in theaters across the country. This continued popularity, long after their initial success, is a testament to their lasting and indisputable impact on American culture.
- March 13, 2007, 11 a.m. - Rodgers & Hart (guest singer to be announced)
Before teaming up with Hammerstein in 1943, Richard Rodgers wrote over thirty musicals with lyricist Lorenz Hart. Their music evokes the conventions of Vaudeville, with its jazzier sound and cabaret singers and personas. Songs like Manhattan, Thou Swell, You Took Advantage of Me, Blue Moon, There’s a Small Hotel, and My Funny Valentine, made musicals popular on Broadway and on the Hollywood big screen.
- March 27, 2007, 7 p.m. - Gershwin with The Renfroes
George Gershwin is synonymous with the Jazz musical. Already an accomplished songwriter, Gershwin collaborated with his elder brother Ira for the bunk of his career. Gershwin’s conceptual achievements and contributions to Jazz music made it the music of the era. A history of recordings from John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Judy Garland, Nina Simone, John Fahey, Fred Astaire, and many others who continue to sing his songs stands testament to his legacy.
- April 10, 2007, 7 p.m. - Lerner & Loewe (guest singer to be announced)
Librettist, Alan Jay Lerner and lyricist, Frederick Loewe are most known for their popular productions for American musical theater from 1947 to the 60’s. Their most renown work, My Fair Lady tells the story of an arrogant phonetics professor challenged by a friend to turn Eliza Doolittle, a poor, incorrigible girl into an elegant lady.
- April 24, 2007, 11 a.m. - Opera vs. Broadway with The Renfroes
Leonard Bernstein is perhaps the most internationally regarded, respected, and decorated American Composer of the 20th Century. Bernstein served first as the Music Director of the New York City Symphony Orchestra from 1941-43 and then as the long time conductor for the New York Philharmonic from 1958-69, where he led more concerts than any other previous conductor. Altogether he conducted three symphonies, two operas, five musicals, and numerous other pieces in concert halls around the world. Bernstein led productions of Mahler, Brahms, Schumann, Ives’, Verdi, Shostakovich, Gershwin, and especially Beethoven, for which he is most famous.
Coupled with his musical genius, Bernstein was a dedicated advocate of young performers and composers, including Copeland, whom he helped gain recognition. From 1958 to 1972, Bernstein ran his televised special, Young People’s Concerts for CBS. Bringing classical music into the American home, it is the longest running group of classical performers ever televised. Moreover, his recorded lectures at Harvard and elsewhere have become standards in musical education.
Tickets for each of the six programs in the The Genius of the American Musical Theater series are $20 for Ringling Members and $25 for non-members. They are available by contacting the Historic Asolo Theater Box Office at 941.360.7399.