City Center Encores! Off Season: Working / Promenade / Road Show - New York City Article

City Center Encores! Off Season: Working / Promenade / Road Show

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City Center Encores! Off Season: Working / Promenade / Road Show

Jun 28, 2019

City Center Encores! Off Season
City Center
131 W 55th St., CityTix (212) 581-1212

Working: A Musical
June 26 through June 29

Stephen Schwartz was the primary force behind this 1978 show, based on an unlikely book by journalist Studs Terkel.  The idea behind the musical, as with the book, was to present a vast kaleidoscope of perspectives on the nature of work, or, as the full title of the book went, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.  To provide that perspective, although Mr. Schwartz and Nina Faso wrote the script, they went to a half dozen composers and lyricists - the idea was to not sound like one single songwriter or team wrote all the songs.   In the original production, the songs were by Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers and Susan Birkenhead, and James Taylor in addition to Mr. Schwartz, and this revised production adds two new songs by Lin Manuel Miranda.  Mr. Schwartz's "It's An Art" (an ode to the art of waitressing) has been the song that's been most heard in cabaret and concerts, but the score in general is diverse and lively, and this particular cast (Andréa Burns, Mateo Ferro, David Garrison, Helen Hunt, Christopher Jackson, Javier Muñoz, and Tracie Thoms) should be able to make Working work.

by Maria Irene Fornes & Al Carmines
July 10 & 11

Where Working contain some serious moments and some humorous ones, Promenade is whimsical to the point of absurdity, and then, beyond that, stretches the notion of absurdity to the point where it becomes something close to anarchy and then even beyond that, becomes a political statement and therefore serious.  First produced in 1965 (in what might be called a workshop production) with libretto by Maria Irene Fornes (called “the mother of avant-garde theater”) and music by Al Carmines, the revue made it to Off-Broadway proper in 1969.  It's an especially diverse mixture: some of the numbers are purely whimsical, some are titilating (like one that promises "four naked ladies"), but others take the form of a Vietnam-era anti-war protest.  Having only heard the 1969 original cast album, I, for one, am very anxious to see it.  The cast includes principals James T. Lane and Kent Overshown, along with Bryonha Marie Parham and Mark Bedard, Becca Blackwell, Eddie Cooper, Daniel Everidge, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Marcy Harriell, Bonnie Milligan, Don Darryl Rivera, Soara-Joye Ross, Steve Routman, Saundra Santiago, and J.D. Webster.

Road Show
by Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman
July 24 through July 27

Being a Sondheim show, this will probably be the hottest ticket of the summer season, especially since it's one of only a tiny few of Sondheim works that have never made it to Broadway.  The composer-lyricist-avatar has been working on this off-and-on for roughly 60 years (it's also been produced under the titles Bounce - for which there's a cast album from 2004 - and Wise Guys).   Loosely based on two real life characters, the Mizner Brothers, Addison and Wilson, Mr. Sondheim and book writer John Weidman use the life story of a pair of early 20th century entrepeneurs (borderline con men) from the Alaska Gold Rush to the Florida land boom, to illuminate  fundamental aspects of the American dream and the American character.  The Encores! cast includes Raúl Esparza, Brandon Uranowitz, and Jin Ha.

for more information and tickets, please click here.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)