Big Red Sun Shines At Feinstein’s/54 Below
Feinstein’s/54 Below is celebrating new m as they debut ten musicals in development written by today’s most talented writers. The series is curated by Programming Director Jennifer Ashley Tepper. The first show was Big Red Sun January 19th by composer Georgia Stitt and playwright/lyricist John Jiler. Their Harold Arlen Award-winning musical was previously seen in development at The York Theatre, ASCAP, The National Alliance for Musical Theater and TheatreWorks Palo Alto. Featuring a talented cast of six and a band of five with Georgia Stitt on Piano, Randy Landau on Bass, Shannon Ford hitting those skins, Alec Berlin thrilling on Guitar and Rob DeBellis on Flute, Clarinet and Sax. The show was directed by Hunter Foster.
Big Red Sun is the story of a son’s search for his father through post-World War II America. Harry Daimler (Adam Cochran) is a restless, imaginative teenager stuck in a soulless New York suburb. Throughout his young life he’s accepted his mother’s (Betsy Morgan) explanation of his father’s absence: Eddie Daimler (David Josefsberg), a well-known pre-World War Two swing musician, was killed in action with the American Army in France. But Harry, no longer satisfied by his mother’s simple explanations, is looking for more information. By grilling sources as diverse as the local rabbi (Michael Philip O’Brien) and a black jazz trumpeter (Maurice Murphy) who once played in his father’s band, a portrait emerges of the real Eddie Daimler. For the first time, Harry is beginning to know his father, and every time he learns something new, the play reveals the information in flashback. Harry (in the present) and Eddie (in the past) are telling their stories simultaneously.
Harry learns that his father was the first modern in his lower East Side Jewish neighborhood. While everyone else on Ludlow Street attended shul religiously, Eddie jazzed around town. He bought an American suit. He edited the guttural sounds out of his own speech. And even though he made his living playing music for local bar mitzvahs and weddings, he had his eyes on more distant bandstands. Harry learns that his father clawed and scratched his way into a big band and married the lead singer. He convinced the bandleader to hire a black trumpet player, thereby sealing in the heat of the band. But as the band assailed the heights of the 1940s music scene, news filtered to America revealing exactly what Hitler was doing in Europe. Eddie’s Jewish blood boiled up and he joined the army, leaving behind Helen, his scared and pregnant wife.
As Harry watches his father’s life play out before him, he learns that Eddie’s experience was not the glorious, heroic one typical of the “greatest generation.” Rather, the war left Eddie with psychological scars from the battlefields of France complete with a French chanteuse (Jill Abramovitz) and the brothels of Paris… just as, back in New York, his wife was giving birth to their only son. As the curtain falls on Act One, Harry learns a shocking truth, and Act Two swirls us relentlessly into the violent Rock and Roll of the 1960s.
Georgia Stitt is known for her musicals Alphabet City Cycle, Mosaic (Off-Broadway, 2010), and The Danger Year, as well as her popular albums featuring Broadway artists: This Ordinary Thursday and My Lifelong Love. John Jiler was the recipient of both the Rodgers and Kleban Awards for his musical Avenue X, which ran at Playwrights Horizons. His work has also been seen at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference and the Kennedy Center.
This a show to definitely keep your eye on as the music spans every genre and the book has enough twists and turns to keep you interested.
I have included Julia Murney singing “Hometown Girl” from the show.
This Tuesday at 7pm and 9:30pm you can catch An Americain Boy features music by Olivier-Award winning composer Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer The Opera, Anna Nicole, The Tracey Ullman Show), lyrics by Tony-nominated lyricist/composer Amanda Green (Hands On A Hardbody, High Fidelity, Bring It On), and direction by Tony-nominated director Leigh Silverman (Violet, Chinglish, Well).
The cast features Jarrod Spector (Beautiful, Jersey Boys), Alysha Umphress (On The Town, American Idiot), Rachel Bay Jones (First Lady Suite, Pippin), Jessica Crouch (NYMF, Next Broadway Sensation), Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar, Amazing Grace) and a surprise guest or two.
$25-35 cover charge. $60 premium seating. $25 food and beverage minimum.
Broadway’s Samantha Pauly and Reeve Carney Come To Chelsea Table and Stage
On May 29th catch Samantha Pauly for Memorial Day. Best known for originating the role of Katherine Howard in Broadway’s smash hit SIX the Musical, and her captivating performance as Eva Peron in Jamie Lloyd’s critically acclaimed revival of Evita on London’s West End, Samantha Pauly has carefully crafted an evening that reflects the last few years of her life. Join this Grammy nominee and Drama Desk Award winner as she revisits some career highlights, Broadway classics, pop/rock favorites, and all the fun stuff in between.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and actor Reeve Carneyreturns to Chelsea Table + Stage June 4th to perform a night of music honoring the artistry of the legendary rock n’ roll supergroup Led Zeppelin. Carney is best known for his portrayal of Dorian Grayin on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, Riff Raff in Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show Reimagining, as well as originating the role of Peter Parker in Julie Taymor/U2’s Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark. He is currently starring in the Broadway blockbuster, Hadestown. Reeve Carney delivers a one-man-show cabaret that feels more like an invitation-only after-party than a traditional concert performance. Don’t miss this special performance from one of Broadway’s leading actors!
My View: It’s Richard Jay-Alexander’s Birthday!
If there’s anyone who deserves to be featured in TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES, on this particular day, May 24, it would be this guy, Richard Jay-Alexander. Born in 1953, today he turns 70 years old, here in New York City. He has walked these city streets more than most, as he pursued and has enjoyed a 49 year career, working on Broadway, in most theaters, clubs and majestic musical institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and The MET. He’s touched many, many lives and has a passion for this business that continues to burn and just this past Sunday, he helmed a thrilling evening, celebrating BroadwayWorld.com‘s 20th Anniversary, at midtown’s historic Sony Hall. On the eve of his birthday, he attended his favorite Tuesday night happening, Susie Mosher’s The LINEUP at Birdland Theatre, and treated the audience to a couple stories, observations on this important birthday and then, with Billy Stritch at the piano, John Miller on Bass and Clint De Canon on drums, performed a moving and heartfelt (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Richard clearly has a gift and a passion for the stage and for music and we are all the better for it, on the receiving end.
Happy Birthday, Young Man! Here’s to many more.
My View: A Glamorous Celebrity Filled Night With Lorna Dallas at The Laurie Beechman Theatre
It was a celebrity filled audience last night and the glamor of Manhattan Cabaret nightlife was in abundance for Lorna Dallas and her show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre titled “Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days
Ms. Dallas returned to New York City with a wonderful new show. This was Ms. Dallas’ first appearance in this town since she performed at the Bistro awards prior to the lockdown of 2020. The three years respite has done nothing to dim the luster of Ms Dallas’ exceptional instrument. She stayed in fine voice all evening long. But she is more than just an excellent vocalist. She is also a compelling actress. Her show, skillfully crafted by director Barry Kleinbort, and sensitively accompanied by one of this city’s best musical directors, Christopher Denny, was a joy from start to finish. The star studded audience at the Laurie Beechman theater responded heartily to every one of Lorna’s numbers. Evening high points ran the gamut, from standards like “I Have Dreamed,” to “When the Sun Comes Out;” from an hilarious “By Strauss” by the Gershwin’s to a dramatic “Silent Spring” by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. She also premiered a new song written especially for her by Ann Hampton Callaway and Amanda McBroom, “In My Dreams,” which wowed the savvy New York crowd. Hopefully, Lorna Dallas will return to these shores on a more regular basis. Three years is too long a wait for this powerful soprano’s next appearance..
My View: David Yazbek and Norbert Leo Butz at 54 Below
Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award winning composer/writer/musician David Yazbek and his band were on the stage of 54 Below last night playing some of his new songs from an upcoming album. They also played some great music from the Yazbek songbook and from his Broadway musicals.
In addition to being an award winning composer and lyricist David Yazbek is a formidable pianist possessing a fearless technique generating an extraordinary combination of intoxicating melodious dissonance. . A highlight of the evening for me was when he displayed his unique harmonic and rhythmic pianistic concepts on the Great American Songbook Standard “Over The Rainbow”. Norbert Leo Butz also starred in the the 54 evening titled “David Yazbek and The Bludgeoneers” and he brought the house to it’s feet with the “Dirty Rotten Medley”
The Band: Javier Diaz (Percussion), Tony Orbach (Sax), Sam Sadigursky (Clarinet), Dean Sharenow (Drums), Chris Tordini (Bass), Paul Vercesi (Sax)
Vanessa Racci and Charlie Romo Bring Star Crossed Lovers To Light
Bobby Darin was a major musical talent whose life ended at a young age but accomplished so much in his career. He was catapulted to success by two of his original songs “Splish Splash,” and” Dream Lover”. Some of his other hits were Kurt Weill’s” Mack the Knife”, The English version of Charles Trent’s hit “La Mer-Beyond The Sea”.
Connie Frances first rose to fame with her hit Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby’s “Who’s Sorry Now”. She also had great success with two of Neil Sedaka-Howard Greenfield’s “Where The Boys Are” and “Stupid Cupid”
Through Bobby and Connie’s chart topping hits Vanessa and Charlie sang and told the love story of the two musical stars budding romance at the beginning of their careers. Sadly the romance came to a halt when Connie Francis’ father did everything in his power to come between the two lovers and broke them up.
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