This year marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War II and in 1941 songwriters - like all Americans - did their part for the war effort, with hits from Irving Berlin, Frank Loesser and many more working to keep up morale. On March 12, 13 and 14, Rodgers & Hammerstein president and American Theater Wing chairman Ted Chapin salutes the greatest songs of the Greatest Generation in his Lyrics & LyricistsTM debut, as artistic director, writer and host of Stage Door Canteen: Broadway Responds to WWII. Joining Chapin are vocalists Anderson Davis, Jeffry Denman, Brandon Victor Dixon, Debra Monk and Betsy Wolfe.
The Stage Door Canteen, run by the American Theatre Wing - a volunteer organization dating back to WWI - was a theater district club for servicemen with dancing, entertainment, food and drinks, and a chance to hobnob with celebrities like Helen Hayes, Tallulah Bankhead, Walter Pidgeon and Lauren Bacall. Ted Chapin, whose grandmother began volunteering at the Stage Door Canteen on its very first day, and whose father was a WWII veteran, feels a personal connection to the Broadway/World War II relationship.
"On the one hand, before Pearl Harbor Broadway provided escapist entertainments in which, for example, Winsocki was urged to ‘buckle down,' and Cole Porter listed what celebrities might do when they go ‘Farming'", Chapin notes. "Then Broadway began to respond to the war with shows like Irving Berlin's extraordinary This Is the Army. In the middle of the war, Oklahoma! opened and really captured the spirit of the country we were fighting for. Lyrics & Lyricists gives me a chance to explore the American Songbook of this era and to see the lasting effect WWII had on Broadway."
L&L shows are Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 and 7 pm, and Monday at 2 and 8 pm. Individual tickets range from $67 to $52. There is also a special under-35 ticket price of $25 for the Saturday and Sunday evening shows.
Anderson Davis, vocals
Davis has appeared in several roles in Les Misérables on Broadway, as well as in the Encores! Summer Stars production of Damn Yankees. He recently finished a run in Lincoln Center's national touring production of South Pacific.
Jeffry Denman, vocals
Denman's Broadway credits include Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Producers, Dream, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Cats and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his role in the off-Broadway musical YANK! Denman chronicled his experience with The Producers in the book A Year with the Producers: One Actor's Exhausting (But Worth It) Journey from Cats to Mel Brooks' Mega-Hit.
Brandon Victor Dixon, vocals
Dixon is a Tony Award nominee for his role in The Color Purple, and also garnered a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance in the off-Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys. He recently starred in the lead role of Ray Charles in Ray Charles Live! at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Debra Monk, vocals
Singer/actress/writer Monk won a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role in Redwood Curtain. Her Broadway musical credits include Curtains, Chicago, Company, and Pump Boys and Dinettes, which she also co-wrote. She has also appeared in dramas and comedies on and off-Broadway including Reckless, Ah, Wilderness!, Picnic, and Prelude to a Kiss. Monk appeared in L&L's 2010 season in the critically acclaimed Poisoning Pigeons in the Park: The Art of the Satiric Comedy Song.
Betsy Wolfe, vocals
Wolfe has been seen on Broadway in Everyday Rapture and 110 in the Shade. She appeared in the national touring production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and in regional theater in such shows as Tales of the City, Ragtime, Showboat, Side by Side by Sondheim, and Annie Get Your Gun.
Coming up in 2011
April 30, May 1, 2
THE CROWD'S AT EL MOROCCO: THE HEYDAY OF THE NEW YORK NIGHTCLUBS
DEBORAH GRACE WINER, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & HOST
John Oddo, MUSIC DIRECTOR & PIANO
Mark Waldrop, STAGE DIRECTOR
Debby Boone, Vocals
La Tanya Hall, Vocals
James Naughton, Vocals
Billy Stritch, Vocals
Karen Ziemba, Vocals
May 21, 22, 23
CARRIED AWAY: BEING COMDEN AND GREEN
Phyllis Newman, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & HOST
Larry Yurman, MUSIC DIRECTOR
Carl Andress, STAGE DIRECTOR
Mary Testa, Vocals
Max Von Essen, Vocals
Zakiya Young, Vocals
Special Guest: Leslie Uggams
Additional artists to be announced
ABOUT LYRICS & LYRICISTS
Long one of 92nd Street Y's most popular programs, the American Songbook series Lyrics & LyricistsTM was launched in 1970 when longtime Broadway conductor Maurice Levine and lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (The Wizard of Oz) took to the stage to talk about the then-unusual topic of songwriting. Over the years the series has featured every great Broadway and Hollywood lyricist including Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Stephen Sondheim, Dorothy Fields, and Alan Jay Lerner. Since 2004, L&L has featured original programs created by accomplished champions of the repertoire, including Rob Fisher, Sheldon Harnick, Robert Kimball, Rex Reed, Lucie Arnaz, Billy Stritch, Ted Sperling and Andrea Marcovicci,. Each show celebrates the American Songbook through a blend of performance and narrative with a particular focus on lyrics. For more information, please visit www.92Y.org/Lyrics.
92nd Street Y's unique fusion of community and culture makes it the only place of its kind in the world. 92Y is a not-for-profit community center, performance stage and lecture hall; a literary salon and home for artists; a school, outreach organization and summer camp; a gym, a residence and more. 92nd Street Y, a proudly Jewish institution since its inception in 1874, has become a community of communities, welcoming people of all ages, races, faiths and backgrounds. Now serving more than 300,000 people each year in its New York facilities, 92Y also reaches millions of "virtual" guests around the world through its website, satellite broadcasts and other electronic media. Committed to making its programs available to everyone, 92nd Street Y awards nearly $1 million in scholarships annually and reaches about 7500 public school children through subsidized arts and science education programs. For more information, please visit www.92Y.org.