By: Ellis Nassour
Kurt Weill’s last completed work before his death, the musical Lost in the Stars, written with Maxwell Anderson, lyricist, will be the second Encores! production of the City Center season. There will be five performances: February 3 and 4 @ 8 P.M.; February 5, 2 and 8; and February 6, @ 6:30.
Gary Griffin [The Color Purple, The Apple Tree revival; Olivier nom, West End Pacific Overtures , is directing, with Rob Berman as M.D. and choreography by Chase Brock. Jack Viertel is A.D. of the Tony-honored Encores!
Headlining this classic will be Chuck Cooper [Tony winner, The Life, Finian’s Rainbow, Caroline, or Change], who possesses one of the most impressive voices in theater, Daniel Breaker [Tony winner, Passing Strange; and Drama Desk-nom Shrek], Patina Miller [Public’s Delacorte Hair; Olivier nom for her role as Deloris Van Cartier in the West End Sister Act, which she’ll reprise on Bway] and Sharon Washington [The Scottsboro Boys].
Daniel Gerroll, Stephen Kunken [Tony nom, ENRON, High, Rock ‘n Roll, Frost/Nixon], John Douglas Thompson [DD-nom, The Emperor Jones; Obie-winner, Othello], Sherry Boone [Marie Christine, Ragtime, Master Class] and an additional cast of 28 are featured.
LITS, the second and final collaboration between Weill and Anderson, was billed as a "musical tragedy" when it opened in 1949 on Bway [playing 281 performances]. It’s based on Alan Paton’s celebrated novel Cry, the Beloved Country, which as does the musical presents an uncompromising social indictment of South Africa apartheid through two aging men – one black, one white, who are brought together by shared grief.
The score contains blues, rousing chorales, folk, operatic-like arias, and elements of popular music. One of the strongest elements of the musical is the use of the ensemble to represent the people of Johannesburg, black and white, to propel the story forward. In addition to the poignant title tune, the songs "Stay Well" and "Trouble Man" have had a life through the years.
Weill and Anderson’s collaboration included the 1938 musical comedy Knickerbocker Holiday, which introduced the famous "September Song." It received a spectacular semi-staged production by Collegiate Chorale at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday and Thursday.
Encores! is supported by the Stephanie and Fred Shuman Encores Fund, American Express, Stacey and Eric Mindich and Newman’s Own Foundation. LITS is funded, in part, by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.
Tkts for Lost in the Stars, $25-$100, are available at the City Center box office, through CityTix at (212) 581-1212 or online at www.NYCityCenter.org.