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Broadway Composers Talk

Tony Award-winning composers Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home) and Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), photographed by Erin Baiano.

We’re delighted to announce that City Center will partner with The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC for a new live-streamed series of conversations and performances about the glorious, complicated legacy of the Broadway musical. City Center Encores! Unscripted at The Greene Space at WNYC will go beyond the “talkback”—and beyond nostalgia—for a smart, unsentimental look at how musicals have reflected and shaped American life.

Hosted by Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel, the series kicks off on December 14, 2015 with Sexism. Racism. Show Tunes. Discuss., in which Tony Award winners Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Jelly’s Last Jam), and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home) examine the troublingly sexist and racist attitudes embedded in classic musicals. The second Encores! Unscripted event, Keeping Score, digs into the art of orchestration and score restoration with Encores! Music Director Rob Berman, Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, and the legendary orchestrator Jonathan Tunick, on February 1, 2016. The series concludes on March 14, 2016 with Who Tells Their Stories?: Historical Narratives on Broadway, featuring Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson composer Michael Friedman, Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr., and cast members from the Encores! production of 1776. Additional guests and performances will be announced at a later date.

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November 17, 2015 by New York City Center
Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon, photographed by Maarten De Boer.

Tony and Emmy Award winner Cynthia Nixon has played everyone from Jean Brodie to Eleanor Roosevelt, but the role that got away was Agnes Gooch. I’m too old now, but I always really wanted to do Gooch,” she says. “Because if she sings badly, it’s fine, you know?” If the third lead in Mame seems like an unlikely Everest, keep in mind that Nixon is obsessed with musicals. She and Sarah Jessica Parker used to sing showtunes during long nights on the set of “Sex and the City,” and these days she still listens mostly to cast recordings. For her dream Encores! show, Nixon selected The Golden Apple, Jerome Moross and John Latouche’s exquisite, brainy “opera for Broadway,” which retells the Greek myths of Helen, Paris, Ulysses, and Penelope through the lens of American folklore. Although the 1954 musical closed on Broadway after four months, it has since acquired a merry, fanatical band of admirers.

CITY CENTER: How did you discover The Golden Apple?
CYNTHIA NIXON: My mother. I was very immersed in musicals growing up—which is what Steve, the play that I’m directing at The New Group, is so much about: people who live for musicals, and live through musicals. I certainly fit into that category, and I’ve done it to my children. (laughs) I’ve also done it to my wife, who was not a musical comedy person at all before she met me. My mother steeped me in musical theater, and we used to play the Golden Apple record. Then I was lucky enough to see a production of it, which is unusual, at the York Theater [in 1978] when I was still a kid. I knew the show inside out by the time I saw it.

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November 13, 2015 by New York City Center
Broadway Sheet Music

Annie Get Your Gun sheet music courtesy Tripp Phillips and the Tripp Phillips Collection.

One of the perks of living to 101 is that after you die, nobody’s left to debunk your mythology. By the end of his life, the composer Irving Berlin was more folk hero than human; even The New York Times referred to him as “a reclusive immortal.” We’ll probably never know whether Berlin actually let his song “God Bless America” languish in a trunk for twenty years, or whether he really knocked out “Anything You Can Do” during a 15-minute cab ride.

Of course, the entire score of Berlin’s 1946 masterpiece Annie Get Your Gun inspires disbelief. The musical, which City Center will present in a two-performance concert version starring Megan Hilty next week, boasts an unmatched string of American standards—from “I Got the Sun in the Morning” to “Doin’ What Comes Naturally” to “There’s No Business Like Show Business”—all of which radiate the infectious postwar exuberance that Berlin was feeling at the time.

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October 19, 2015 by New York City Center

“Any professional tap dancer is a historian,” said Michelle Dorrance at a raucous, impassioned discussion of urban dance at City Center on October 7, 2015. “That’s it. That’s your job.” Hosted by Dr. Nijah Cunningham of Hunter College, the panel offered a long, loving look at the art of bringing forms of street dance to the stage—from tap to Brazilian hip-hop to the bruk up.

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October 9, 2015 by New York City Center
Gai Behar and Sharon Eyal

Gai Behar and Sharon Eyal.

When they met, Israeli dancemakers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar were from different worlds—she was performing in the venerated Batsheva Dance Company, and he was producing underground techno raves. “I remember I used to come to his parties and run away because it was scary for me,” Eyal told The New York Times. “For me, nothing is too much, but this moment was too much.”

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October 9, 2015 by New York City Center
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