Free Monday Event to Celebrate Publication of New Bernstein Bio and Upcoming Revival of On the Town
By: Ellis Nassour
This Monday at 7 P.M. Barnes & Noble at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue will host a free event to celebrate the publication of the new bio Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War (Oxford University Press, Broadway Legacies series) and the upcoming revival of Bernstein’s On the Town, with lyrics by veteran Broadway tunesmiths and 12-time Tony nominees and seven-time winners Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Biography author Carol J. Oja and Harvard’s professor of music and American studies and the New York Philharmonic’s Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence, William Powell Mason will lead an exciting panel of distinguished artists that include Mr. Bernstein’s daughter and international classical music narrator Jamie Bernstein; Adam Green (son of Adolph Green and Phyllis Newman); and veteran Broadway performer Billie Allen.
Also on hand will be Judith Clurman music directing members of Essential Voices USA [Diana Rose Becker, Arlo Hill, Daniel Schwait, Jorell Williams], accompanied by pianist Kurt Crowley. Selections from On the Town will be performed, and there’ll be an audience sing-along.
Ms. Oja will be on hand to autograph books.
Previews begin September 20 at the Lyric Theatre for the 70th Anniversary revival of On the Town revival, directed by Tony winner John Rando, with choreographer by Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse. Clyde Alves, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Jackie Hoffman, Elizabeth Stanley, Alysha Umphress, and Tony Yazbeck headline the cast.
Bernstein’s music was wide-open, inspired by everything from opera and jazz to cartoons. The score features such standards as "New York, New York," "Lonely Town," "Some Other Time," and Hildy the taxi driver’s all-stops-out riotous "I Can Cook, Too."
The revival, music directed by James Moore, will have an orchestra of 28 and use the show’s original orchestrations. The musical integrates dance into its storytelling. Robbins created extended dance sequences, such as the famous "Imaginary Coney Island" ballet.
In Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War [416 pages; SRP $28], award-winning author Oja captures a tumu
ltuous moment in time and thoroughly examines the early days of Bernstein’s career during WWII, centering around the debut in 1944 of On the Town and the ballet Fancy Free, the genesis of the musical. Bernstein and visionary friends, such as Jerome Robbins and Comden and Green, focused on urban contemporary life and popular culture.
The original On the Town, which played over 460 performances, was quite a groundbreaker. In addition to trio of wild ‘n wooly sailors on 24-hour shore leave, it featured African American performers and a Japanese American ballerina. , staging a model of racial integration. Rather than accepting traditional distinctions between high and low art.
Seating is limited and first come/first serve so arrive early.