Continuing its 35th Anniversary season, Urban Stages (Frances Hill, Founding Artistic Director; Tom Toce Producer) proudly announces the line-up for this year’s award-winning series, WINTER RHYTHMS 2018, which will begin Wednesday, December 12 featuring some of New York’s best musical performances through Saturday, December 22, 2018 at Urban Stages Theatre (259 West 30th Street, just East of 8th Avenue).
Tickets are $30 per show (except for Patron’s Night, Monday, Dec. 17th), $50 for two shows on the same day, and may be purchased by visiting urbanstages.org or by calling (866) 811-4111. For complete schedule information, visit www.urbanstages.org.
WINTER RHYTHMS 2018 marks the 10th year that Urban Stages welcomes noted musical artists to its stage during the holiday period. The mission of WINTER RHYTHMS is to bring the talents of well-known and up-and-coming singers, musicians, lyricists and composers to the attention of the New York theater community while performing at Urban Stages Theater. WINTER RHYTHMS was the winner of the Bistro Award for Outstanding Series and the Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series MAC Award. Proceeds from WINTER RHYTHMS benefit Urban Stages’ acclaimed Outreach Program, which brings over 200 free “arts in education” presentations to libraries and schools throughout the five boroughs.
This year’s benefit series will present 20 shows, many of them created especially for WINTER RHYTHMS, all of them with sound design by Douglas Mills and lighting design by Kim T. Sharp. Victoria Ordin is Production Manager. After seven years of producing and programming WINTER RHYTHMS award-winning producer/writer/director Peter Napolitano will pass the baton to Tom Toce, who has been associated with the celebrated series as a feature songwriter and producer for the past six years. Napolitano will act as a consultant during this years festivities as well as a featured songwriter.
Winter Rhythms will include a very special Patron’s Night Gala Celebration on Monday, December 17 at 7pm with NOEL COWARD AND FRIENDS featuring Jim Dale, Jeff Harnar, Edward Hibbert, Simon Jones, Sidney Myer, Marissa Mulder, KT Sullivan and more. Tickets are priced from $160-$500, including cocktails at 7pm, the show at 7:30pm and dinner afterwards.
Current Performance Schedule*
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12 at 7pm: TEN YEARS OF WINTER RHYTHMS
Producer/Director/Lyricist and former Urban Stages Director of Musical Theatre, Peter Napolitano will host a retrospective of ten years of Winter Rhythms, featuring some of his favorite moments from the award-winning series he has produced and programmed from 2011-17. More than a dozen past performers will come back to recreate their performances or in some cases, sing something entirely new, including Mark Nadler, Adam B. Shapiro, Janice Hall and many more. Matthew Martin Ward on piano.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13 at 7pm: JARMILA NOVOTNÁ: HER LIFE IN SONG
William V. Madison will direct and host a program celebrating his recent book, Jarmila Novotná: My Life in Song, the memoir of the great Czechoslovak soprano (1907–94). Though she worked continuously at the principal opera houses in New York, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague, she was also one of the original crossover stars, excelling in film (The Search, with Montgomery Clift) and on Broadway (Helen Goes to Troy; Sherlock Holmes, with Basil Rathbone). On radio, she sang with Bing Crosby; on TV, she clowned with Abbott and Costello, and played Tab Hunter’s mother. Her extraordinary range embraced everything from Rodgers & Hammerstein to Bill Haley and the Comets. Performers will include opera star and MAC Award-winner Janice Hall, MAC nominee Hanna Burke, and newcomers Brendan Eprile and Greg Driscoll. Novotná’s granddaughter, violinist Tatiana Daubek of the acclaimed chamber ensemble House of Time, will perform as a Special Guest Star.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13 at 9pm: THE BEST OF THE HARVARD-YALE CANTATA
The Harvard-Yale Cantata is the brainchild of new Winter Rhythms producer Tom Toce. It’s a competition of Harvard songs (written and performed by alumni) against Yale songs. The fourth annual competition was recently held at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Yale team captain (and WR Production Manager) Victoria Ordin has selected the best songs, and the best performers, from the past four shows. She will host and present a cast of singers including Sam Bolen (star of the recent off-Bway hit Midnight at the Never Get), along with Cantata veterans Megan Loughran, Nathaniel Dolquist, Mallory Baysek, and Jac Huberman, as well Cantata newcomers who just joined their respective teams this past fall, including Derek Speedy, Michael Wingate, and Elisabeth Ness.
Songwriters include graduates from four decades of both schools: John Forster, Julian Fleisher, Alan Chapman, Benji Goldsmith, Richard Maltby and David Shire, Drew Fornarola, and many more—including Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein!
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14 at 7pm: THE MUSIC OF SERGEI DREZNIN
Sergei Dreznin is a Moscow-born, New York –based Austro–Russian award winning concert pianist and composer. He has had 17 shows produced on stages in Paris, Vienna, Moscow, Madrid and New York. Mr. Dreznin returns to Urban Stages having composed incidental music for “Roses in December” with Jim Naughton. This two-part evening will feature songs from his musical epic Catherine the Great, which has been running in Russia over ten years to sold-out houses, winning the Golden Mask – Russia’s Tony Award. He will also be premiering several songs from his new musical in progress, Bar None, with book and lyrics by Peter Napolitano. Performers will include Brie Cassil and Adam B. Shapiro.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14 at 9:30pm: A NIGHT OF JAZZ AND BLUES
This international evening of artists continues with Abou Diarrassouba (Abou Lion Diarra) hails from the Ivory Coast. He founded and was musical director for the powerhouse Black Warriors band premiering in NYC then touring 40 Cities. He recently returned from 8 months playing jazz in Behrain. He is internationally known for his artistry. Abou brought his talents and drums on our stage last spring to add the sounds of Africa in the play Dogs of Rwanda by Sean Lewis. He is internationally known for his musical artistry. He returns with his band that frequently plays at the noted Jazz club in Harlem, Paris Blues. The 69th Street Band will be playing Jazz and Blues.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 15 at 3pm: SONGWRITERS ALLIANCE SHOWCASE
The New York Songwriters Alliance was founded by Tom Toce in 2016. The Alliance is a group of professional songwriters who meet twice a month to share songs, success stories, industry opportunities, and creative energy. This show, hosted by MAC board member Jennie Litt, will include songs by Alliance members Michael Colby, John Forster, Ned Ginsberg, Bobbie Horowitz, Randy Klein, Jennie Litt, Peter Napolitano, Paul Rolnick, Alex Rybeck, Steve Sieck, Tracy Stark, and Tom Toce. Their songs will be showcased by some of the best vocal talent in NY cabaret.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15 at 7:30 pm: ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
An evening about the life and art of Johnny Mercer as told by Alberta Hunter. The show is written by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, who has had plays read at Urban Stages. Several of his plays are touring the USA. C. Kelly Wright, a powerful singer and actress, is playing Alberta Hunter. Miss Wright has performed in Off Broadway musicals, plays, televisions, films in the US and Internationally. Miss Kelly is a regular at Urban Stages, starring in Langston in Harlem and just completing six roles in our Retrospective Reading Series at Urban Stages.Joining her will be Terry Burrus, who is known for performing as a leader in various groups around the world including “Golden Opera Voices”, “Jazz Commissioners,” “Terry Burrus Dance Floor” and many more. He is also a music director, conductor, composer, producer and an artist with a string of solo albums and a new one coming out soon. In addition, Vincent Scott, performer, director, educator and Urban Stages’ school coordinator, will complete the evening.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 16 at 3pm: SALLY DARLING SINGS BEATRICE LILLIE
Sally Darling is a 2016 MAC Hanson Award winner, a 2017 Bistro Award winner and a multiple MAC Award nominee. Along with Music Director Matthew Martin Ward at the piano, she brings her latest cabaret show, Sally Darling Sings Beatrice Lillie, to Winter Rhythms. According to Darling, “The show is about the songs she’s done, with one she WOULD have done––brilliantly. She was called ‘the funniest woman in the world,’ and Noël Coward said she was ‘one of the greatest stars of light entertainment the world has ever known.’ Lillie entertained on radio and in television as well as theaters, movie houses, vaudeville palaces and supper clubs in her 50-year career.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 16 at 7pm: TBA
MONDAY DECEMBER 17 at 7pm: NOEL COWARD AND FRIENDS (PATRON BENEFIT)
Urban Stages Benefit evening of Noel Cowards songs, verse and stories devised and narrated by Barry Day and Friends. Eric Comstock on piano with Jim Dale, Jim Naughton, Jeff Harnar, Edward Hibbert, Simon Jones, Sidney Myer, Marissa Mulder,KT Sullivan. Songs include: Something Very Strange, I’ll Follow My Secret Heart, Something to Do with Spring, If Love Were All, Bronxville Darby and Joan. The show includes Coward voice in verse of “Mad Dogs and Englishman.” Other verse selections will be read by Mr. Dale, Mr. Naughton, Mr. Jones, and other members of the Cast. A video will be shown of Christopher Plummer, Winston Churchill, Christine Ebersole,Margaret Leighton and others performing Coward. The benefit evening will include, cocktails, show and dinner at local restaurant. Tickets are $500, $300, $200, $160 obtained on Urban Stages Website:urbanstages.org
TUESDAY DECEMBER 18 at 7:00pm: THE PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Matsuki Productions & Urban Stages presents Winter Rhythms’ The People You Should Know. As a producer, reviewer and writer, Sue Matsuki is presenting some of the most impressive people she has met over the past few years. Some are recent contest winners (MetroStar and Mama’s Next BIG Act) and some are people she has met at Open Mics or in class. All of them are people she wants you all to know! This amazing cast includes: Emily Ellet, Carlos Knauth, Mary Lahti, Katie McGrath, Lynda Rodolitz and Zac Wobensmith with the wonderful Tracy Stark as our Musical Director.
TUESDAY DECEMBER 18 at 9 pm: THE ART OF CABARET
Matsuki Productions & Urban Stages presents Winter Rhythms’ The Art of Cabaret. This very interesting concept is a show where the singer chooses a work of art which inspired the song that they will be performing. It is an ALL-STAR cast of some of the most recognizable names in Broadway and some of the most award-winning Cabaret singers working today! The cast includes: Ari Axelrod, Erin Coronican, Tom Gamblin, Karen Mack, Stearns Matthews, Doreen Montalvo (In the Heights/On Your Feet), Carly Olivia, Phyllis Pastore, Gretchen Reinhagen, Sarah Rice (Sweeney Todd/The Fantasticks), David Sabella (Chicago), Marcus Simeone and Deborah Stone with the wonderful Tracy Stark as our Musical Director.
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 19 at 7pm: CHRISTINE LAVIN AND FRIENDS
Known for her humor and her generosity, Christine Lavin is a favorite among fans and other performers in the contemporary folk music world. Christine comes to Winter Rhythms with her guitar, her beautiful voice, her witty and tender songs, some artful videos to accompany her songs, and quite possibly her baton-twirling and her knitting! All Christine Lavin concerts are Christine Lavin and Friends, because even when she has no musical guests, she makes her audience feel like friends. Produced by Tom Toce.
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 19 at 9pm: YOU AND ME (BUT MOSTLY ME): BRENDAN EPRILE AND GREG DRISCOLL
Two young and gifted performers will grace the stage with their contrasting styles in a playful and entertaining cabaret show. Brendan comes from the Dear Evan Hansen style of contemporary musical theater, while Greg fuses Broadway stylings with jazz and gospel. Somehow they make it work, on stage and in life. The show includes Broadway and pop numbers, as well as original material. Directed by William Madison and produced by Elise Goyette.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 20 at 7pm: HANNA BURKE: WHY IS EVERYONE LAUGHING?
After hit engagements at the Met Room, the Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama, and the Friars Club earned her a MAC Award nomination, Hanna Burke reprises — for the first time in more than a year — her tribute to the Tony-winning, Oscar-nominated actress Madeline Kahn. Cabaret Scenes praised Hanna’s use of songs and stories “to illuminate the short—but brilliant—life and career of this extravagantly funny lady who never truly, deeply understood ‘Why is everyone laughing?’” At Winter Rhythms, Hanna will be joined by music director Jeff Cubeta and guest performers Rachael Joyce, Adrian Rifat, and Will Anderson. Produced by Kahn’s biographer, William V. Madison, in association with Elise Goyette.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 20 at 9pm: NEW MUSICAL THEATER SONGWRITERS SHOWCASE
There are so many exciting voices in musical theater beyond those you can hear on Broadway. The hard part is selecting only five. But we did it, and you’ll love these wonderful theater songwriters whose work has not (yet) hit Broadway: Cynthia Meng, Janet Noh, Kim Oler, Zak Sandler, and Michael Wysong. Tom Toce will host this tuneful and ear-opening evening.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 21 at 7pm: THE BEST OF RICKY RITZEL’S BROADWAY
Cabaret War Horse, Ricky Ritzel presents the Best Of edition of the Award Winning Ricky Ritzel’s BROADWAY, which won a MAC Award in 2016 as Best Recurring Series. Fashioned after Sylvia Fine Kaye’s Musical Comedy Tonight PBS programs from the 70’s, each show highlights songs and stories from 2 or 3 Broadway musicals with a star-studded revolving cast. Ricky, last seen on Broadway hailing a cab, will give wry commentary as well as accompanying on the piano. The cast is likely to include Sally Darling, Bob Diamond, Barbara Malley, Aaron Morishita, Sidney Myer, Jay Rogers, Lauren Turner, and Kristine Zbornick.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 21 at 9:30pm: A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Composer-lyricist Matt Corriel and librettist Erica Lipez revitalize an old favorite, bringing Scrooge and his world to life with fun songs and good cheer! Matt will lead a concert version of the musical, with a cast that includes Jennifer Brown, Jojo Karlin, Sam Perwin, and Isabel Santiago. A Christmas Carol is available for licensing through Dramatic Publishing Company
SATURDAY DECEMBER 22 at 2:00pm: BETH AND RITT’S THIRD ANNUAL HOLIDAY SURVIVAL KIT
Award-winning songwriters Beth Falcone and Ritt Henn come back as newlyweds to celebrate their third appearance in Winter Rhythms with their annual holiday show. Beth and Ritt perform original and originally-arranged tunes to see you safely through the season. Beth’s “catchy melodies and smart lyrics” (Variety) and Ritt’s “funkier Cole Porter” songs (LA Weekly) soar with her “fiery piano playing” (Chicago Sun Times) and his “cool cat” bass (Time Out NY). With special guests to be announced, it’s high quality duct tape and organic beef jerky for the soul!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER. 22 at 5pm: SONGS OF HOPE (Closing Night)
Do we ever not need songs of hope? At this time of year, and at this point in history, we especially need them. Tom Toce will produce the closing nights’ program, featuring some of the best cabaret singers in New York, each performing a hopeful song. If this concert doesn’t provide uplift, nothing will! There will be performances by Douglas J. Cohen, Ann Kittredge, Eric Michael Gillett, Sidney Myer, and more!
*Artists, programming and schedule subject to change.
WINTER RHYTHMS 2018: Urban Stages – 259 West 30 Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, December 12 – 22, 2018