SHOW BOAT opens!

We had a thrilling evening last night at Avery Fisher Hall... a packed and enthusiastic crowd cheered us at every turn. Norm Lewis and the male ensemble stopped the show 20 minutes in with "Ol' Man River", and everyone in the cast was amazing. We get to do it four more times this weekend, and it will be taped for a "Live for Lincoln Center" broadcast, so if you can't get to see it truly live, this will be the next best thing! Running to the hall now to do some little notes with the cast and creative team. Can't wait for tonight!

Check out this article about the rehearsals in the Wall Street Journal with some great photos.

On the Town!

I bought a last-minute ticket to see this glorious revival, and boy am I glad I did! What a show this is, both as a piece of writing and as a performance. Such an interesting mixture of low comedy and high art.... the ballets were really extraordinary. What the three leading men are doing is amazing... , they are each wonderful singers, dancers, actors and comedians. Tony Yazbek struck me as a real thoroughbred... he sings operatically in a special extension of "Lonely Town", dances like Gene Kelly and Nijinsky, and when he takes off his shirt in the Coney Island boxing match, he's like a statue come to life!

James Moore conducts a crackerjack orchestra of 28, that sits high up in the pit so you can really hear them. Bravo to everyone involved in this production... I could go on and on and talk about each person's contribution, but it's late and I have to study SHOW BOAT!

 

 

Three remarkable events

I had an unusually busy spate of evening activities recently... I've been sort of a homebody for the last few years, ever since the twins were born. But we're starting to figure out ways to get out more, and this last two weeks were a welcome change, especially since I enjoyed the events so much!

First was the presentation of Bach's St. Matthew Passion at the Armory, conducted by Simon Rattle and directed by Peter Sellars. I lucked into tickets at the last minute (this was a very hard ticket to score) and was so grateful to be there. It was a stunning evening of music making... two orchestras, two choruses, brilliant soloists and a very spare but effective setting within the imposing Armory space. The opening chorus alone was worth the (normally extremely high) price of admission... I was struck with how "avant-garde" Bach was in his time—this is a pretty wild piece of writing. The staging and acting of the piece was always interesting and engaging, but it was the music making that really floored me. When instrumentalists had solo moments in arias, they often stepped forward and related directly to the solo singer, from memory. One wonderful moment featured the two english horn players and the flutist, gathered around the supine figure of the evangelist and accompanying an aria all by themselves. Rattle traveled from orchestra to orchestra, and the sound design made the Armory seem like it had great acoustics, which I don't think it really does!

Second was "The Fortress of Solitude" at the Public Theater, an ambitious and multi-layered work that is still in previews. This is Michael Friedman's most sophisticated and rich work that I've heard so far, and the staging by Daniel Aukin and his collaborators is top notch.

Third was Basil Twist's Stravinsky evening at Lincoln Center's White Light Festival, presented at Rose Hall. This was only the third fully staged evening I've seen in that space, and I'm struck by how wonderful a venue it is for staged work... I understand that it is very expensive to produce there, and this production must have come close to breaking the bank, as it was extremely impressive in both its visuals and its high level of musicianship. The Orchestra of St. Luke's was at its finest under the baton of Jayce Ogren. The use of China Silk alone in "The Rite of Spring" was constantly dazzling, as was the surprise dancing solo of the virtually naked Christopher Williams. The lighting and projection design were also very beautiful and effective.

I also hosted an intimate evening at a gorgeous apartment with a spectacular view of the Hudson River on Monday... a sneak peek at THE ROAD OF PROMISE, which I'll be directing and conducting at Carnegie in the spring. Three of our soloists, Philip Cutlip, Lauren Michelle and Justin Hopkins joined me, as did Ed Harsh, the composer who edited this version of the piece. We're doing a season preview event at Alvin Ailey on Monday night which will feature this piece as well as Susanna and Not the Messiah! And I start rehearsals earlier that day for SHOW BOAT... never a dull moment!

A typical day

Woken up at 5 am by one of the kids... no more sleep today... A check-in on the KING AND I dance workshop... amazing! What a talented and attractive group, doing the gorgeous Jerome Robbins ballet, "The Little House of Uncle Thomas."

Followed by a production meeting for SHOW BOAT... so much to figure out! But it's all coming together. SHOW BOAT is one of the only Broadway shows that really doesn't have a standard playing text... nearly everyone doing a first-class production these days does his or her own version, using elements of the 1927 and 1946 stage productions as well as elements from the three movie versions. I'm leaning heavily on the 1927 version, and including some songs very rarely heard in performance.

Lunch with the amazing concertmaster of the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Krista Feeney... a stimulating conversation.  We'll be working together this season on three concerts with the Collegiate Chorale. Speaking of, an interesting hour-long phone conference to discuss long-term fund raising strategies.... we have an incredibly hard-working and imaginative Board of Directors at the Chorale, and I'm so grateful for their dedication.

Then research on SHOW BOAT with the help of Bruce Pomahac and Wayne Blood at the Rodgers and Hammerstein organization... they unearthed some files they didn't even know they had from the 1946 revisal!

Dinner at home with Noah and the talented and charming men behind the tie company, "Title of Work".... check them out.