Monday, April 07, 2014

Getting to Know Rodgers & Hammerstein at 92Y

Any evening with talented Broadway stars performing Rodgers & Hammerstein is going to be a good one. Especially when those stars are Jonathan Groff (Frozen), Mandy Gonzalez (In The Heights), Rebecca Luker (most recently seen in Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella), Phillipa Soo (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), and Lewis Cleale (currently in The Book of Mormon). But what made Lyrics and Lyricists: Getting to Know You: Rodgers & Hammerstein even better than your standard concert was host Ted Chapin's (president of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company) knowledge of the songwriting team. He shared tidbits about their collaboration and illustrated them by having the cast read letters that they wrote to each other.

And what better way to study their process than by hearing three incarnations of a song. Groff sang the never-before-performed "My Friend," which was supposed to be the song Lieutenant Cable sings after meeting Liat in South Pacific, but co-librettist Joshua Logan did not think was appropriate for such a life-changing moment. "My Friend" became "Suddenly Lovely," also nixed by Logan, but the tune was later used for "Getting to Know You" in The King And I. Finally, Groff performed the song which stayed in the show, "Younger Than Springtime." 

Every performance was a highlight, but Soo was the biggest surprise. I had seen and enjoyed her performance in Natasha, but was not aware of her range, evident in her sassy "I Cain't Say No" and affecting "Mr. Snow." I hope to see her in something else soon. Maybe in The King and I that Ted Chapin unofficially announced is coming to Lincoln Center next year?

If you don't have plans tonight, you can still catch the final performance of the show at 7:30 at 92Y. Tickets are only $25 if you are 35 and under. 

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