Nov. 11, 2004
A new revue of songs by famed Broadway and film composer Jerome Kern will premiere at Catholic University — the first production in an initiative that enables students at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music to study with some of the most renowned directors and musicians working on Broadway today.
A cast of six CUA music school students, under the direction of a creative team from New York, will present the revue, “The Land Where the Good Songs Go,” at Ward Recital Hall Thursday, Nov. 18, through Saturday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m.
The Kern revue launches CUA’s Excellence in Music Theatre initiative, which debuted this fall as one of the music school’s many programs that link students with the ever-evolving world of professional music performance.
The show, which tells the story of three couples from their early 20s to midlife entirely in song, is the brainchild of New York playwright and theater professor Ed Wilson, who says he grew up listening to Kern’s “glorious music.” About two years ago, Wilson decided to put together a revue of the composer’s classics, like “All the Things You Are,” as well as a number of little-known or forgotten Kern gems.
The author or co-author of three of the most widely used college theater textbooks in the United States, Wilson says he wanted to showcase Kern’s work because he considers him one of the “five great masters of the American song” along with Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. Kern, according to Wilson, is the least acknowledged.
For the Catholic University production, Wilson is working with musical director David Loud, whose credits include numerous Broadway shows, and stage director Stafford Arima, an Olivier Award nominee.
On Broadway, Loud has worked on “Ragtime,” “A Class Act” and the revivals of “She
Loves Me,” “Company” and “The Boys From Syracuse.” In the Washington, D.C., area Loud has directed productions of “Restoration” at Arena Stage, “The Sweet Revenge of Louisa May”
at the Olney Theatre and “Les Miserables” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Arima’s credits include “Ragtime,” which earned him a 2004 Olivier Award nomination for best director, “Altar Boyz” at the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival, and the second national tour of “Seussical: The Musical.”
Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli, whose credits include the national tour of “Godspell,” the 2000 Tony Awards and the Rosie O'Donnell Show, and set designer James Kronzer, who won the 1996 Helen Hayes Award for outstanding set design for a resident play or musical for “Conversations with My Father,” are also part of the creative team for the CUA production.
Kern, who was born in 1885, studied music in New York and Germany and then worked as a pianist for a music publisher in the early 1900s. He quickly became a successful songwriter and, in 1927, teamed with writer Oscar Hammerstein II to create “Show Boat,” considered the first true American musical.
Adapted from Edna Ferber’s novel of the same name, “Show Boat” pioneered the concept of the fully integrated musical, separate from the European operetta tradition and the Ziegfeld Follies revue that preceded it. In many ways Kern, who died in New York City on Nov. 11, 1945, was a link between the European and Broadway musical styles, according to theater historians.
MEDIA: To cover the production, contact Katie Lee or Chris Harrison in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-6975.
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The Catholic University of America,
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