It has been three seasons since James A. Rocco, the Ordway’s VP of Programming and Producing Artistic Director first introduced the Broadway Songbook series. Part Broadway history lesson, part show stopping tunes, this is a great series for those who love Broadway and the stories behind their favorite shows and composers.
The first installment of this season’s Broadway Songbook featured the Musicals of the 1950s. The 1950s are often referred to as the “Golden Age of Broadway”. The shows from Broadway during this time have been revived numerous times on Broadway, across the country and world since their premiere. The big composers during this time included Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Meredith Wilson, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein and Frank Loesser.
James Rocco was joined by Musical Director Raymond Berg and six performers to make the Musicals of the 1950s come to life in cabaret style. Broadway Songbook veterans Kersten Rodau, Jennifer Baldwin Peden and Joel Liestman were joined by newcomers Dan Beckman, Sara Ochs and Wes Mouri. The company belted out favorites from such classics as South Pacific, The King and I , The Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls, The Music Man, Peter Pan, My Fair Lady, West Side Story and Gypsy. A few lesser known shows were also spotlighted including Call me Madame, The Pajama Game, Fiorello, Candide, The Most Happy Fella, Bells are Ringing and Juno.
Usually set in the Ordway’s intimate McKnight Theatre, which is gone as the Ordway constructs a new concert hall in its place, this popular series needed to find a new home. Look no further than the stage of the main theatre, literally. The performers, piano, audience and even the bar are all on stage this season. The setting is still intimate, however seeing the stage for some may be a problem. As the seats are all on the same level and the stage is only about a foot above the floor. But the Ordway is making the best of a less than ideal situation and are able to continue this very popular series.
The Musicals of the 1950s section is over, but there are still two more Broadway Songbook installments this season. In January you can learn the stories behind the songs and shows of George Gershwin. Which is a perfect companion piece to the Ordway’s presentation of the national tour of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in March. Then in June you can learn the stories behind the songs and shows of writing duo Comden and Green.
For more information the Broadway Songbook Series or to purchase tickets to an upcoming performance, visit the Ordway’s website.