Our three programs include a tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II and Stephen Sondheim, a celebration of the songs by Alan Jay Lerner and his many collaborators, and "At Long Last Love," a wide variety of music from the American musical theater, including songs by Cole Porter, Frank Loesser, Irving Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Meredith Willson, Rodgers & Hart, and many others.
Wouldn't It Be Loverly?
An Alan Jay Lerner Celebration
For more than 40 years, Alan Jay Lerner was one of Broadwayıs most celebrated lyricists and librettists. During his career, he collaborated with some of musical theaterıs finest composers, including Frederick Loewe, Burton Lane, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill and George Gershwin. Yet his career in musical theater began rather serendipitously.
"I became a professional librettist because of a cigarette, a left hook to the side of the head and a wrong turn on the way to the menıs room," Lerner wrote in his 1980 autobiography. Coming from a privileged background, Lerner had been groomed for a diplomatic career and expected to go to college in Europe, but his expulsion from prep school for smoking so enraged his father that he "sentenced' young Lerner to four years at Harvard where he joined the boxing team and wrote musical romps for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. A boxing accident left him visually impaired and unable to go to war so after college he became a radio writer "filling the air with words rather than flying through it." It was during this time that he met Frederick Loewe at the Lambs Club in New York City when Loewe, a struggling composer, took a wrong turn on his way to the menıs room and, encountering Lerner, asked him, "You write lyrics, donıt you?" "I try," Lerner responded. "Well," said Loewe, " Would you like to come write with me?" The rest is history.
In their program of songs and stories from Lernerıs shows including My Fair Lady, Camelot, Brigadoon, On A Clear Day, The Little Prince, An American in Paris, Jean and Bill bring to life the works of this legendary Broadway figure.
Side by Side
Oscar Hammerstein II & Stephen Sondheim
Oscar Hammerstein II and Stephen Sondheim are two of the greatest writers of the American musical. But not everyone knows that they enjoyed the unique relationship of teacher and student. When he was just fifteen, Sondheim wrote the book, music and lyrics to a show that was produced at his high school to glowing reviews. Buoyed by its success and sure that it would immediately be produced on Broadway, he brought the musical to Hammerstein (who happened to be his neighbor and the father of his friend, James) and asked him to read it and offer advice. Hammerstein did and told Sondheim, "This is the worst script I have ever read." Sondheim was crushed. "But," Hammerstein continued, "It is not without talent. If you want to know why itıs terrible, Iıll tell you."
Hammerstein proceeded to spend several hours showing him how to create a musical, and Sondheim later said that he learned more about songwriting and musical theater in that afternoon than most people do in a lifetime. Hammerstein continued to be Sondheimıs mentor and near-surrogate father for the rest of his life. Theirs was one of the great friendships in theater historyone giant helping another reach the heights.
In their program, Jean and Bill will perform the songs of Oscar Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim from some of their greatest shows, including Hammersteinıs Show Boat, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Carousel, The King and I, and Sondheimıs West Side Story, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, Follies, A Little Night Music and more. Jean will also describe the lives of these remarkable men, their relationship, and how they came to be two of the supreme innovators in American musical theater history.
At Long Last Love
Classics from The Great American Songbook
At Long Last Love (also the title of their CD) is Jean and Bill's program of a wide variety of wonderful songs from the "Golden Age" of American musical theater and popular music. These include works by a "Who's Who" of the country's greatest songwriters, including George & Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Billy Strayhorn, Rodgers & Hart, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Loesser, Jule Styne, Harold Arlen, Meredith Willson, Leonard Bernstein and many more.
In this concert, Jean also shares anecdotes about these great songwriters as well as "back stage" tales about her years performing on stage in many productions including "Guys & Dolls," "The Music Man," "She Loves Me," "My Fair Lady,""Show Boat," "Silk Stockings," A Little Night Music," and "Camelot" (with the legendary Richard Harris.) Her stories about these wonderful composers and lyricists along with those about her years in the New York theater and her time touring the country will delight your audiences.
At Long Last Love has been Jean and Bill's most popular program over the years. The vitality, love and artistry they bring to these fabulous songs is certain to be a hit with your audiences. .