by Mark G. Auerbach, Arts Beat contributor
Think Summer: Tanglewood Salutes The Leonard Bernstein Centennial
Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this upcoming August, and Tanglewood is programming a salute to the world-renowned conductor, composer of opera, ballet, and Broadway, and a larger-than-life presence, who introduced thousands of children to music through his Young People’s Concerts. In a short career, the Massachusetts-born and raised, and Harvard graduate gave us Broadway hits On The Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, West Side Story and more; ballets like Fancy Free, symphonies, and theatre pieces like Mass.
Tanglewood’s season includes numerous Bernstein programs. On July 7, Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops perform On The Town, the story of three sailors on leave in New York City, created by Bernstein with Betty Comden and Adolph Green and choreographer Jerome Robbins, whose 100th birthday is also this summer. On The Town was based on the Bernstein and Robbins ballet Fancy Free, which will be performed on August 18. Barrington Stage in Pittsfield recently revived the musical and sent it to Broadway. On July 28, the Boston Symphony accompanies the film West Side Story, another collaboration of Bernstein and Robbins. As a side note, Barrington Stage is producing West Side Story directed by Julianne Boyd with choreography by Robert LaFosse. Performances run July 27-August 26.
There are performances of Bernstein’s opera Trouble in Tahiti, directed by his daughter Jamie Bernstein on July 12; a performance of Bernstein’s opera A Quiet Place on August 9.; and a fully-staged production of Candide on August 22-23.
Two major concerts include The Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert on August 19, which programs Three Meditations from Bernstein’s Mass and a world premiere by John Williams, and the season finale, The Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood, on August 25.with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, host Audra McDonald, conductors Andris Nelsons, Christoph Eschenbach, Keith Lockhart, Michael Tilson Thomas, and John Williams, plus Yo Yo Ma, Susan Graham, and Tony Yazbeck.
Leonard Bernstein’s 50 year association with The BSO and Tanglewood began in1940, when he became a member of Serge Koussevitzky’s* first conducting class at the new Berkshire Music Center, in part thanks to a written recommendation from Aaron Copland. In 1988, Leonard Bernstein turned 70 andTanglewood threw a four-hour concert and birthday party, Bernstein at 70!, carried on PBS, hosted by Beverly Sills, and featuring luminaries from music, Broadway and Hollywood. Stephen Sondheim rewrote Kurt Weill’s “Saga of Jenny” from Lady in The Dark for that occasion. Lauren Bacall delivered it.
Goodspeed’s 13th Annual Festival of New Musicals…Where Tomorrow’s Hit Broadway Shows Are Born and Raised
Goodspeed Musicals in its half-century plus of presenting musicals, and only musicals, has sent a bunch of blockbusters to Broadway. In the early days, Man of La Mancha, Shenandoah, and Annie got their starts in East Haddam, CT or in Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. More recently, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn and Broadway’s current smash Come From Away, can trace their roots back to productions, reading, and workshops under the Goodspeed banner.
The 13th Annual Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals kicks off its much-anticipated three-day festival of brand-new works on Friday, January 12, at The Goodspeed with a staged reading of the rousing new musical Five Points by Ethan D. Pakchar (Music) and Douglas Lyons (Music and Lyrics), and McKnight Fellowship winner Harrison David Rivers (Book). On Saturday, January 13, the soaring Sweetwater, inspired by the contributions of Women Airforce Service Pilots, will be a highlight of the day. The musical is written by festival alumni Sean Mahoney and critically acclaimed Patricia Noonan. The final day of the festival features Passing Through, ASCAP Foundation’s Cole Porter Award winner Brett Ryback and author Eric Ulloa’s exhilarating tuner based on a young man’s cross-country journey. All three writing teams have developed works during the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed. Additional festival events including seminars, a symposium, cabarets and The New Musical Preview round out this exciting weekend.
Incidentally, Goodspeed also has a New York City theatre tour on March 21-24, which includes round-trip bus from Goodspeed to Broadway, free parking at Goodspeed, three night’s accommodations at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, tickets to four musicals, The Band’s Visit, My Fair Lady, Escape to Maragaritaville, plus one to be announced, and a lot more. Trip details are available at: http://goodspeed.org/special-programs/nyc-theatre-tour
Keep in Mind…
New England Public Radio is accepting nominations for the 2018 New England Public Radio Arts & Humanities Awards, its10th anniversary. The awards recognize those who have made a positive impact on the arts and humanities and bring awareness to the critical role played by musicians, artists, dancers, writers, teachers and cultural institutions in western New England. Nominations must be submitted before January 15. The celebration will be held in May. For details: www.nepr.net.
One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, created and brought to life by Canadian actor Charles Ross, comes to Springfield’s CityStage on January 11-12. One-Man Star Wars Trilogy is a live solo performance of the original trilogy of Star Wars movies (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi)! Audience members are invited to wear costumes, but no masks or weapons are allowed. For details: 413-788-7033 or www.citystage.symphonyhall.com.
Bernstein on Broadway airs on many PBS stations on New Year’s Eve. Audra McDonald hosts, and the New York Philharmonic headlines the festivities. Among the Broadway stars scheduled to appear are Aaron Tveit, who starred in Barrington Stage’s Company last summer. Check your local listings.
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat Radio for 89.5fm/WSKB.