Julie Benko and Jason Yeager duet album “Hand In Hand” due 8/26 with BIRDLAND release concert 8/29
Club44 Records will release Hand in Hand – the debut duet album from the married musical team of Julie Benko and Jason Yeager – on CD and in digital and streaming formats on Friday, August 26. The pair will celebrate the new recording with a concert at Birdland Jazz Club on Monday, August 29 at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available HERE. Benko is a singer and actress who is currently appearing as the “Fanny Brice” standby in Broadway’s Funny Girl; she will take over the role from August 2 to September 4, and then every Thursday starting on September 8. Jason is an acclaimed jazz pianist and composer who has played concert halls around the world. Hand in Hand includes theater favorites (“People” from Funny Girl, “All I’ve Ever Known” from Hadestown), jazz standards (“The Nearness of You,”), and pop hits (“Mercedes Benz”), in addition to Yeager’s original songs. Benko is featured on vocals, clarinet, flute, and percussion, with Yeager playing piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, celeste, organ, and percussion. Hand in Hand is produced and arranged by Julie Benko and Jason Yeager. The album’s first single is a charming take on “Louisiana Fairy Tale,”the 1935 jazz classic popularized by Fats Waller, which will be released on Friday, August 12. A special EPK about the album’s background is available online HERE. The album will be available to pre-order on Friday, August 12.
“Making this record was so rewarding because it feels like an extension of the beautiful intimacy of our life together,” says Julie. “Every single sound on the record was created by one of us. Making music together is one of the unique ways in which we can celebrate, support, and communicate with each other. The fact that we were the only two musicians on the record gave us freedom to be creative, and to try experiments that came to us spontaneously. We obviously have a real comfort together, which makes the musical process feel free and flexible. When I listen to the way we play together now versus the way we played together on my first record, it’s clear that our musical communication has taken major steps forward. Maybe that’s our marriage coming through; maybe it’s that we were quarantined together as our sole musical partners for over a year during the pandemic.”
“Every song that we chose has such a special meaning to us and has grown with us in our relationship,” Jason continues. “And then to be able to come home from the studio and set up microphones in our office and play around with adding extra musical layers, whether that was adding new instruments to the mix or backing vocals, was simply fun. At one point, we tried to capture our cat’s purr – his name is Thelonious Monk – and hide it in the percussion somewhere, but we couldn’t find a way without ruining the music. So, instead, we gave him a featured portrait on the back of the album artwork.”
With Benko’s Broadway roots, it was natural to feature several musical theater selections. Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s “People” from Funny Girl is included, with the pair offering a romantic, bolero-inspired piano-voice take on the material. “I especially enjoyed finding our own spin on the Broadway tunes,” explains Julie. “With ‘People,’ what are you going to do… copy Barbra? What’s the point of that? So we tried to find the spirit of the scene the song grows out of. It’s a moment of intimacy, reflection, and seduction, which led to our delicate version.”
On Anaïs Mitchell’s “All I’ve Ever Known” from Broadway’s Hadestown, the Tony Award-winning “Best Musical,” Jason plays piano, organ, and cajón with Julie singing lead and background vocals. The couple first saw the show Off Broadway in 2016 and were dazzled by both the music and imaginative retelling of this classic Greek myth. Julie said, “This is amazing! It will definitely come to Broadway!” Jason was more dubious, replying, “Nah. It won’t do well on Broadway. It’s way too cool.” Mitchell’s New Orleans-inspired score was a natural fit for the Broadway and jazz pair, who themselves share an obsession with the history and music of New Orleans. As newlyweds, the two were particularly drawn to this song, which Orpheus and Eurydice sing together at the beginning of their love story.
A lilting take on Frank Loesser’s “If I Were a Bell” from Guys and Dolls and Jason Robert Brown’s “Another Life” from The Bridges of Madison County help round out the record’s musical theater repertoire. Reflecting on the second song, Jason adds: “We love Jason Robert Brown because he has such a strong and specific musical voice that bends into jazz, folk, and Latin vocabulary at times. That feels like a natural fit for us, since we do the same. And we are doing what jazz musicians have always done: reimagining and improvising on great songs from the theater in a personal and expressive way.”
Several other selections reflect the couple’s love of New Orleans, including the standard “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” “It is our favorite place in the world,” Jason comments. “It’s the only city where jazz is celebrated in the streets. Julie even wrote a play – recently named a semifinalist at the 2022 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference – set in Storyville, which some consider the birthplace of jazz. After we visited the first time, we could not stay away from this magical place. We try to return every year. In the meantime, we drink coffee with chicory from Café du Monde every morning.”
A special highlight is the pair’s joyously raucous version of the Janis Joplin hit “Mercedes Benz.” “We know that Janis’s raw aesthetic and original a capella arrangement might make this song seem an unlikely choice for us,” says Julie. “We had no sheet music or particular arrangement, just a fun romp on voice and Wurlitzer, with Jason simultaneously stomping his foot. Later, we decided to overdub additional layers of clapping, keyboards, and more stomping. It helped create an enhanced tapestry of rock ’n’ roll magic that makes it feel as though a whole crowd is rocking out with us.”
In addition to their love of classic idioms and vintage tunes, Julie and Jason thought it was important to include new songs for a new generation. One of Jason’s original compositions, “Sweet Pea,” is dedicated to legendary jazz songwriter-pianist Billy Strayhorn – composer of “Take the A Train,” and Duke Ellington’s longtime collaborator – who lived just a few blocks from the couple’s Harlem apartment and whose nickname was “Sweet Pea.” The poignant second original, “Just Begun,” features a melody Jason composed for Julie to walk down the aisle to at their wedding. The lyrics were added for this album.
“I’m very excited to be teaming up with Club44 Records for this project,” Julie concludes. “The team has been incredibly supportive, cheering our music as a duo and cheering me from the audience of the August Wilson Theatre. We are thrilled to be working with such an enthusiastic, genuine, kind group of people to bring this music to the public.”
Theatre News: Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, Parade, The Shubert Organization and Millennials Are Killing Musicals,
Tovah Feldshuh, Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton at Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid
The curtain was raised last night at The Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street) as Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, the American showbusiness legend’s landmark musical tribute to the artform that defined his life, opened on Broadway 45 years after the original smash-hit production premiered. The production’s direction and musical staging is by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento, one of the stars of the original Broadway production, and is produced in cooperation with Nicole Fosse.
In attendance on opening night were Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nicole Fosse; original A Chorus Line cast members Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie, Priscilla Lopez; Chita Rivera; Erich Bergen; Jordan E. Cooper; Tovah Feldshuh; J. Harrison Ghee; Jane Krakowski; Adam Lambert; Ralph Macchio; Abby Lee Miller; Audra McDonald; Casey Nicholaw; Justin Peck; Tiler Peck; Bernadette Peters; Tonya Pinkins; Tony Roberts; David Rockwell; Krysta Rodriguez; Christopher Sieber; Jennifer Simard; Will Swenson and more.
Dancin’is Fosse’s full-throated, full-bodied celebration of dancers and dancing. Utterly reimagined for the 21st century, this Dancin’brims with a level of warmth, emotion, and color seldom seen in modern interpretations of Fosse’s influential style and features some of his most inventive and rarely performed choreography. With New York’s hottest cast performing wall-to-wall dance, including Fosse classics such as “Mr. Bojangles,” and “Sing Sing Sing.” Dancin’ delivers the quintessential Broadway experience for Fosse fans and first-timers alike. You think you’ve seen dancing, but you’ve never seen Dancin’like this.
The cast, consisting of some of the best of Broadway’s elite dancers includes Ioana Alfonso (Hometown: Miami via DR/PR), Yeman Brown (Hometown: Tallahassee, FL), Peter John Chursin (Hometown: San Francisco, CA), Dylis Croman (Hometown: Dallas, TX), Jovan Dansberry (Hometown: St. Louis, MO), Karli Dinardo (Hometown: Melbourne, Australia), Tony d’Alelio (Hometown: Roanoke, VA), Aydin Eyikan (Hometown: Fairfield, CT), Pedro Garza (Hometown: Abilene, Texas), Jacob Guzman (Hometown: Brockton, MA), Manuel Herrera (Hometown: Charlotte, NC), Afra Hines (Hometown: Miami, FL), Gabriel Hyman (Hometown: Chesapeake, VA), Kolton Krouse (Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona), Mattie Love(Hometown: Layton, UT), Krystal Mackie (Hometown: Brooklyn, NY), Yani Marin (Hometown: Miami, FL), Nando Morland (Hometown: Colombia / Denver, CO), Khori Michelle Petinaud (Hometown: Centreville, VA), Ida Saki (Hometown: Dallas, TX), Ron Todorowski (Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA), and Neka Zang (Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ).
Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ is produced by Joey Parnes, Hunter Arnold, Kayla Greenspan, Rodger Hess & Michael Seago, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Bob Boyett, The Shubert Organization, James L. Nederlander, Tim Forbes, Carson Gleberman, Park West Productions, McCabe Ventures, Fran Kirmser & Jodi Kaplan, Greg Young, The Fabulous Invalid, Julie Hess & Tommy Hess, and The Old Globe in cooperation with Nicole Fosse.
Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ originally opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on March 27, 1978 and later transferred to the Ambassador Theatre. The production ran for 1,774 performances. Dancin’ was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and brought Fosse his seventh Tony Award for Best Choreography.
This production of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ premiered at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre from April 19, 2022, to June 5, 2022.
Interscope Records is proud to announce the cast album for the “brilliant” (Variety) 2023 revival of Parade — Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown’s award-winning musical, which opened on March 16 at New York’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre to rave reviews. Parade (2023 Broadway Cast Recording) features the vocal talents of Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award® winner Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond and conducted by composer Jason Robert Brown, and will be released on Thursday, March 23. Pre-order it HERE.
Leo and Lucille Frank (Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond) are a newlywed Jewish couple struggling to make a life in the old red hills of Georgia. When Leo is accused of an unspeakable crime, it propels them into an unimaginable test of faith, humanity, justice, and devotion. Riveting and gloriously hopeful, Parade reminds us that to love, we must truly see one another.
The current revival of Parade, which is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Michael Arden, has received overwhelming acclaim since its debut. Entertainment Weekly called it “a phenomenal production that feels more poignant and powerful than ever,” while Variety said, “Ben Platt stuns in a powerful Broadway production of an essential American musical.”
Platt (Dear Evan Hansen, The Book of Mormon) and Diamond’s performances (The Cher Show) were singled out for praise. Deadline gushed “Ben Platt has no trouble reminding us just why he’s become one of Broadway’s most beloved performers. His vocals here are stunning in a pitch-perfect performance,” while The Guardian raved that “Micaela Diamond’s singing voice is luminous.” “Micaela Diamond, as Lucille Frank, breaks your heart with no affectation whatsoever, and a voice directly wired to her emotions,” wrote The New York Times in its Critic’s Pick review. Tickets are available now at www.paradebroadway.com.
Parade (2023 Broadway Cast Recording) showcases their voices, as well as other members of the all-star cast, while capturing the essence of a musical that, Entertainment Weekly writes, “is the most gorgeous production on Broadway.” Viewers will get a special preview of the musical on March 23 when Platt and Diamond perform its signature ballad “This Is Not Over Yet” on NBC’s Today accompanied by Jason Robert Brown on piano.
Out of the Box Theatrics (Elizabeth Flemming, Founder and Producing Artistic Director; Ethan Paulini, Associate Artistic Director) is pleased to announce that Grammy and Emmy Award winner Kristolyn Lloyd (Dear Evan Hansen) will star in the Off-Broadway developmental production of Millennials Are Killing Musicals, written by Drama League songwriting contest and NAMT Challenge winner Nico Juber. The production, to be directed by Ciara Renée(Waitress, Frozen), will play a limited engagement from May 7-28, 2023, at Theatre 71 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament (152 West 71st Street). Opening night is May 15. Tickets are on sale now at Ovation Tix.
The Entertainment Community Fund, formerly The Actors Fund, the national human services organization supporting the needs of those working in the entertainment and performing arts industry, today announced that The Shubert Organization has made a $5 million gift to the Fund to support expansion of The Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, New Jersey, and affordable housing and a community arts center at The Hollywood Arts Collective in Los Angeles.
The $5 million gift will be used to expand doctors’ offices and services at The Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, with additional support to the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ. Funds will also be used to bolster the construction and programs of The Hollywood Arts Collective, a new affordable housing and community arts center located in the heart of Hollywood where the Central Gardens will be named in honor of The Shubert Organization.
The Shubert Organization has long supported the Fund’s ongoing work to help people in performing arts and entertainment. In 2017, The Shubert Organization unveiled The Shubert Pavilion: an expansion to the Actors Fund Home, an assisted living and skilled nursing care facility located in Englewood, New Jersey. The Shubert Pavilion houses a 25-bed short-stay rehabilitation center available to the general public and intended for people who are recovering from illness or surgery, as well as 14 assisted living beds. The facility also includes a fully equipped gym for physical, occupational and speech therapies.
Robert E. Wankel, Chairman and CEO of The Shubert Organization, also serves as Chair of The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation Board of Directors, a role in which he supports and guides the development of affordable housing for the performing arts and entertainment community to improve lives, create jobs, foster economic development and revitalize communities. In 2022, Wankel received the Entertainment Community Fund’s Medal of Honor, an award presented at the Fund’s annual gala that recognizes individuals who have had a profound impact on the entertainment community.
“The Entertainment Community Fund is honored by the long-standing commitment of The Shubert Organization and the countless ways it supports our work to provide a safety net for people in the performing arts community,” said Fund Board Chair Brian Stokes Mitchell. “A special thank you to Bob Wankel for his continued leadership not only at The Shubert Organization, but also with the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation Board of Directors.”
“The Shubert Organization is proud to strengthen the Entertainment Community Fund’s ability to provide affordable housing, medical care, emergency financial assistance and so much more to those in our industry,” said Robert E. Wankel. “We look forward to all that’s to come in our ongoing collaborations, from Englewood to Times Square to Hollywood and beyond.”
Kids Night On Broadway Is Tonight
Kids’ Night on Broadway, is where young people age 18 and under can see a participating Broadway show for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult*. A Kids’ Night on Broadway ticket also includes restaurant discounts, parking discounts, and more. Select shows will offer in-theatre activities for kids including talkbacks and activity books.
Participating shows include:
A Beautiful Noise
Bob Fosse’s Dancin’
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Life of Pi
The Lion King
MJ The Musical
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
SIX (NOTE: due to show schedules, the Kids’ Night promotion for SIX took place yesterday)
Some Like it Hot
If you haven’t gotten your ticket,,,,it is time to do so.
Hadestown Celebrates Its 1000th Performance and the First Day of Spring With Lilies White, Anaïs Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin
Hadestown, the Tony® and Grammy Award®-winning Best Musical, celebrated both tomorrow’s first day of Spring and the beloved show recently achieving a milestone 1,000 performances at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street) with a surprise appearance by songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin.
After a heartfelt thank you from both, Mitchell and Tony Award winner Lillias White led the audience in a special performance of a classic springtime anthem. Then, as the audience departed the theater, the cast took to the Kerr’s fire escape overlooking West 48th Street and threw flowers to fans.
In addition to White, Hadestown also stars original Broadway cast member Jewelle Blackman as Persephone, Grammy Award® winner Reeve Carney as Orpheus, Tony Award nominee Tom Hewitt as Hades, and two-time Tony Award nominee Eva Noblezada as Eurydice. They are joined by Amelia Cormack, Shea Renne, and Soara-Joye Ross as the Fates. The chorus of Workers is played by Emily Afton, Malcolm Armwood, Alex Puette, Trent Saunders, and Grace Yoo. The cast includes swings Sojourner Brown, Brandon Cameron, Max Kumangai, and Yael “YaYa” Reich, Allysa Shorte, and Tanner Ray Wilson.
Hadestown originated as Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.
Following two intertwining love stories — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — Hadestown invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers, and singers, Hadestown delivers a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience.
Hadestown marks the first time in over a decade that a woman has been the solo author of a musical: writing the music, lyrics, and book, and is the fourth time in Broadway history a woman has accomplished this creative feat. It also marks the first time in Broadway history that a show’s female composer and female director both won Tony Awards for their work. Earlier this year, the landmark musical became the longest running show in the history of the Walter Kerr Theatre and holds the record for highest grossing musical in that venerated stage’s 100-year history.
The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hadestown is one of the most streamed cast albums of all time with over 300 million streams to date. It topped Billboard’s Broadway Cast Recording chart and debuted at #8 on the Top Album chart. The CD edition features a 64-page booklet and a two-disc set, while the triple vinyl edition features a 16-page booklet. Both editions include complete song lyrics and photos of the Hadestown cast and creative team in the studio, and other exclusive content. A special limited-edition transparent green vinyl box set was just released on Friday.
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