Donaldson & Kahn were a songwriting powerhouse in the '20s and '30s.
When they paired up, the hits poured out: “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” “Makin’ Whoopee” and dozens more. Robert Kimball honors the men who gave the Roaring Twenties its soundtrack.
Robert Kimball, artistic director & host
Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks
Vince Giordano, co-music director
Peter Yarin, co-music director & piano
Karen Azenberg, co-stage director
Patricia Wilcox, co-stage director
Christine Andreas, vocals
Jason Graae, vocals
Howard McGillin, vocals
Laura Osnes, vocals
William Bolcom & Joan Morris, piano & vocals
Sat, Jan 7, 8 pm
Sun, Jan 8, 2 & 7 pm
Mon, Jan 9, 2 & 8 pm
The Jan 8 afternoon performance is underwritten by The Henry Nias Foundation, courtesy of Dr. Stanley Edelman.
(Click the names below to expand info.)
Introduction from Guest Artistic Director
Donaldson & Kahn
By Robert Kimball
“Another bride, another June
Another sunny honeymoon
Another season, another reason
For makin’ whoopee!”
Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn wrote their whimsical song about love and marriage for Whoopee, the 1928 musical smash that turned out to be the last great triumph for its producer, the legendary Florenz Ziegfeld. Whoopee is remembered today for the standout performances of two of its stars—the comedian Eddie Cantor and the singer Ruth Etting—and for three of its Donaldson-Kahn songs: “Makin’ Whoopee,” Cantor’s signature number, “Love Me or Leave Me,” introduced by Etting and “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” written for the 1930 film version, where it was sung by Cantor. (The movie, supervised by Ziegfeld himself, is one of the most faithful cinematic versions of a Broadway musical.) The score for Whoopee was the culmination of the collaboration between Kahn and Donaldson and a reflection of the exuberance of the Jazz Age.
Gus Kahn, a great, largely underappreciated lyricist, was born in Koblenz, Germany in 1886 and moved with his family to Chicago when he was five. At the start of his career, while employed as a clerk in a mail order business, he fashioned specialty songs for vaudeville performers. Working productively with such composers as Raymond Egan, Ted Fiorito and Richard Whiting, father of Margaret, he also teamed memorably with the Ohio-born bandleader Isham Jones (“I’ll See You in My Dreams,” “It Had to be You,” “Swingin’ Down the Lane” and “The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else).” But Kahn is best known for his partnership with Walter Donaldson.
Donaldson, a gifted, versatile songwriter, was born in Brooklyn in 1893. His father, a shoe-cutter, was of Scottish-Dutch ancestry; his mother, the child of Irish immigrants, was a classically-trained pianist and music teacher. In his early years, he had a job on Wall Street while also working as a staff pianist for a music publisher. After World War I, he joined forces with Sam Lewis and Joe Young to write the comic classic “How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm? (After They’ve Seen Paree). ”
Kahn spent most of his last years in Hollywood, where he co-wrote, with Edward Eliscu, the lyrics for the first Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film, Flying Down to Rio. The songs, to music by Vincent Youmans, included the effervescent “Carioca,” which garnered Kahn his first of two Oscar nominations. He also wrote lyrics for the film San Francisco and for the Marx Brothers comedy A Day at the Races. Kahn died in 1941. Ten years later he was portrayed by Danny Thomas in the screen biography I’ll See You in My Dreams (Doris Day played his wife).
In the early 1930s Donaldson served on the board of directors of ASCAP and his music for the song “Did I Remember?,” written for the 1936 movie Suzy, was nominated for an Academy Award. Near the end of his life, he worked with, among others, Johnny Mercer and John LaTouche. Donaldson died of pneumonia in 1947 (like his friend and partner Gus Kahn, at the age of 54.) A comprehensive collection of his songs was compiled and edited by his daughter Ellen.
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Robert Kimball is a historian of the American musical theater and artistic advisor to the Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter estates. He has been a member of the advisory committee of City Center’s Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert series and a consultant to the Library of Congress, the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Packard Humanities Institute’s musical theater recording project. He was the artistic director for New York’s 92 St Y Lyrics & Lyricists Mack Gordon, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, and DeSylva, Brown and Henderson programs.
Kimball edited or co-edited six volumes in Knopf’s Complete Lyrics series: Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Frank Loesser and Johnny Mercer. He edited Cole Porter: Selected Lyrics and Ira Gershwin: Selected Lyrics for the Library of America’s American Poets Project. His other books include Reading Lyrics, Cole, The Gershwins and Reminiscing with Sissle and Blake.
After graduation from Yale College and the Yale Law School, Kimball pursued his longstanding interest in the American musical theater as curator of Yale University’s Collection of the Literature of the American Musical Theater from 1967 to 1971. He received a Drama Desk Award for his rediscovery of lost musical-theater manuscripts in a Secaucus, New Jersey, warehouse.
(Photo: Russ Weatherford)
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Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, bandleader Vince Giordano’s passion for big-band music ignited when he discovered a slew of 78 rpm records in his grandmother’s attic. Early appearances with Leon Redbone on A Prairie Home Companion led to work with Dick Hyman’s Orchestra, including many Woody Allen soundtracks. More than a performer, Mr. Giordano is a big-band historian and collector, with more than 60,000 scores in his collection; in 2011, he was featured on the PBS series, Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook.
(Photo Steve Friedman)
In 1976, Mr. Giordano formed the band that is now known internationally through performances, recordings, film soundtracks and TV broadcasts as Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks. They have performed at the Smithsonian, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, international jazz festivals and fundraising events for countless charitable organizations. Vince and the Nighthawks have been seen and heard in Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club; Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester; Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator; and Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road. Other soundtracks include Ghost World; The Savages; The Good Shepherd; Away We Go; Public Enemies; and HBOs Grey Gardens and Mildred Pierce.
Most recently, Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks have been nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for their work on BOARDWALK EMPIRE Volume 1 – Music from the HBO Original Series. They have also been seen on the series as well as the USA Network series Royal Pains. They appeared at the 2011 Turner Classic Movie Film Festival in a night of vintage movie music and played an original score to Buster Keaton’s silent film The Cameraman at the Egyptian Theater. This summer, they will appear at Music Mountain and both the Litchfield and the Newport jazz festivals. Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks can be heard every Monday and Tuesday evenings at Sofia’s Restaurant, adjacent to the Edison Hotel in the heart of Times Square.
Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Vince Giordano, string bass/bass sax/tuba/vocals
Andy Stein, violin/baritone sax
Mike Ponella, trumpet
Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet
Jim Fryer, trombone
Dan Block, alto sax/clarinet
Mark Lopeman, tenor sax/clarinet
Dan Levinson, alto sax/clarinet
Peter Yarin, piano
Ken Salvo, guitar/banjo
Arnie Kinsella, drums
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Co-music director and pianist for “Makin’ Whoopee,” Peter Yarin has been pianist with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks for the past seven years. Among the highlights of his Nighthawks career, Mr. Yarin has contributed to the soundtracks of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Mildred Pierce and he performed with the band on A Prairie Home Companion and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. As a music director, his New York credits include Cupid and Psyche at the John Houseman Theater and The Gondoliers with The Gallery Players, and his regional credits include Dracula at the Stonington Opera House. Beyond the US, he was music director of the National Dance Institute’s China Exchange Program.
As a composer, Mr. Yarin recently completed the score to the musical The Masked Zinfandel, with books and lyrics by Justin Warner, which received a reading at the Greenwich House Music School. His score for the musical Sempo was performed in Tokyo’s New National Theater. Projects currently underway include Age of Innocence with Craig Fols. His song, “Just Some Guy,” with lyrics by Mr. Warner, was recently published in the BMI Workshop Songbook and is sung by Craig Fols on the BMI website. He contributed music to the score of the independent film Hungry Years and performed in the film as an accompanist.
A faculty member of the Diller-Quaile School of Music, Mr. Yarin has also taught within programs at Appalachian State University and the Brooklyn Arts Exchange.
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Patricia Wilcox directed last February’s Lyrics & Lyricists salute to Burton Lane. She has directed productions for the Kennedy Center, Houston Symphony, Minnesota Pops, Phoenix Symphony and Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.’s national tour of “Hit Me With a Hot Note.” She co-conceived and choreographed “A Marvelous Party: the Noël Coward Celebration,” which has been produced across the country, garnering Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Boston Elliott Norton and Chicago Jeff awards. Her other US choreographic credits include the musical Children’s Letters to God, at the Off-Broadway’s Lamb Theatre, and the national tour and PBS broadcast of the string extravaganza Bowfire. Internationally, Ms. Wilcox choreographed the premiere of “F@LCO, A CYBER SHOW” for the Ronacher Theatre in Vienna and the premiere of “A Magic Night” for the Berns Theatre in Stockholm. Wilcox also creates choreography for Olympic Gold Medal ice skaters Viktor Petrenko, Ilia Kulik, Katya Gordeeva and Miki Ando; her work was seen in the 2010 Vancouver and 2006 Turin Olympic Games.
Among Ms. Wilcox’s many other theatrical credits are the national tour of Seussical and the New York revival, national and international tours, London production and Thames Television broadcast of Blues in the Night, earning a Drama Logue Award and a NAACP Image Award nomination. Her regional credits include Guys and Dolls at the Paper Mill Playhouse; Smokey Joe's Cafe, Camelot and Aida at the North Shore Music Theatre; The Pajama Game at Chicago’s Marriott Lincolnshire, earning her a Jeff Award nomination; Pirates of Penzance at Missouri Repertory Theatre; and “Broadway Under the Stars” in New York’s Bryant Park. She has also served on faculty at Jacob's Pillow for three years.
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Charles Osgood, often referred to as CBS News' poet-in-residence, has been anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning since 1994. He also anchors and writes The Osgood File, a daily news commentary broadcast on the CBS Radio Network, which draws one of the largest audiences of any network radio feature.
One of the most honored men in broadcast journalism, Mr. Osgood was recognized with the 2008 National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service Award and has received four Emmys, including one for his 2005 story on "Playing for Peace," a basketball group created by Americans to bring strife-torn children of different religions and races together. He was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2000, he has earned five coveted Washington Journalism Review Best in the Business Awards for The Osgood File and he received a 1997 George Foster Peabody Award for Sunday Morning.
In 2008, Mr. Osgood made his big screen debut as the narrator of Horton Hears a Who and he has performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and played the piano and banjo with the New York Pops and Boston Pops orchestras. That same year, he published A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House (Hyperion, 2008), a compendium of anecdotes from the last 70 years of presidential campaigns. Mr. Osgood was born in New York. He graduated from Fordham University in 1954 with a B.S. degree in economics and holds honorary doctorates from 11 institutions of higher learning.
(Photo: CBS News)
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Christine Andreas was most recently seen on Broadway as Jacqueline in the Tony Award-winning revival of La Cage aux Folles. She burst onto the Broadway scene as Eliza Doolittle in the 20th anniversary production of My Fair Lady, garnering a Theatre World Award. She then received two Tony Award nominations as Laurey in Oklahoma! and as Frankie Frayne in On Your Toes. Her other Broadway credits include Words and Music, Angel Street, Rags, Legs Diamond and The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Ms. Andreas received rave reviews for her starring role in the year-long national tour of The Light in the Piazza. She received a Barrymore Award for her portrayal of Vera Simpson in the Prince Music Theater’s production of Rogers and Hart’s Pal Joey. This past June, she sang in Town Hall’s “Broadway by the Year: 1997” and later this month, she will sing Mama Rose in Gypsy for the Symphony Silicon Valley’s “Broadway in Concert Series.
Ms. Andreas has also become a leading star of the concert hall and cabaret scene. She has sung at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Kennedy Center Jazz Festival and the Caramoor Festival, and she has received critical acclaim for her appearances at the Café Carlyle and the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, to name a few. Ms. Andreas has made three solo recordings—Love is Good, Here’s to the Ladies and The Carlyle Set—and her current show is titled “Two for the Road: A ‘Well Traveled’ Musical Recollection.” Her television credits include Law & Order: SVU, The Cosby Show, PBS’ Musical Comedy III, Another World and the Fox mini-series Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story. Her website is christineandreas.com.
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Jason Graae has starred on Broadway in A Grand Night For Singing, Falsettos, Stardust, Snoopy! and Do Black Patent Leather Shows Really Reflect Up? His Off-Broadway credits include Forever Plaid, Olympus on My Mind, All in the Timing and Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, for which he received a Drama Desk nomination. In Los Angeles, where his credits include the US premiere of Ragtime; The Music Man and Guys and Dolls, both at the Hollywood Bowl; Forbidden Broadway and Forbidden Hollywood, Mr. Graae has won two LA Drama Critics Circle Awards and an Ovation Award.
As a cabaret artist, Mr. Graae has received the New York Nightlife Award and four New York Bistro Awards. He has appeared in such venues as Birdland and the Metropolitan Room in New York, Feinstein’s in Los Angeles, the Plush and Rrazz rooms in San Francisco and the Fairmount Hotels of New Orleans and Dallas. He made his Metropolitan Opera House debut as featured vocalist in Twyla Tharp's Everlast with American Ballet Theatre, and he has played roles in Die Fledermaus and The Merry Widow with such companies as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington National and Houston Grand Opera.
His credits include Chad on Rude Awakening, Dennis on Six Feet Under and guest starring roles on many shows including Frasier, Friends, Sabrina, Dukes of Hazzard and Awakening of Spring. Mr. Graae has recorded more than 45 CDs, including original cast albums, concerts and compilations. He just released his third solo CD, Perfect Hermany: Jason Graae sings Jerry Herman, and had a successful run of that show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. His website is jasongraae.com.
(photo: John Ganun)
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Best known for his record-setting performance as the title role in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Howard McGillin’s most recent appearances include a just-completed run at the Irish Repertory Theatre in A Child’s Christmas in Wales, the premiere of the new musical It Shoulda Been You with Tyne Daly at the George Street Playhouse and a successful solo run at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel. He appeared in last season’s New York City Center Encores! production of Where’s Charley? Mr. McGillin starred in the Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musical Bounce, directed by Harold Prince, in its world premiere at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and later at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, where he was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award.
Other leading roles on Broadway have included She Loves Me, The Kiss of the Spider Woman, Anything Goes (for which he earned Tony and Drama Desk nominations), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (winning a Theater World Award and again earning Tony and Drama Desk nominations) and Sunday in the Park with George. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his New York theatrical debut in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of La Bohéme.
Mr. McGillin has sung on concert stages around the world, from Carnegie Hall to the Israel Philharmonic Hall in Tel Aviv. Having recorded many audio books and narrated numerous episodes of Nature for PBS, he has also provided voices for South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and The Swan Princess. His solo CD, Howard McGillin: Where Time Stands Still, is available at cdbaby.com.
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Making her Lyrics & Lyricists debut is Laura Osnes, who was last seen on Broadway as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie & Clyde, after originating the role at La Jolla Playhouse, winning a San Diego Critics Circle Award, and reprising it at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota. She was previously seen on Broadway as Hope Harcourt in the Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes, for which she received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Astaire Award nominations. Her other Broadway credits include Nellie Forbush in Lincoln Center Theater’s production of South Pacific, and Sandy in the revival of Grease, having won the role on NBC’s reality competition series, Grease: You’re The One That I Want.
Among her regional performances, Ms. Osnes played Kim McAfee in Broadway: Three Generations at the Kennedy Center, a three-act evening featuring condensed versions of Girl Crazy, Bye Bye Birdie and Side Show; Elizabeth Bennett in a concert version of Pride & Prejudice at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester (NY); and appeared in A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Her voice can be heard on the cast recordings of Grease and Anything Goes, which has been nominated for a Grammy Award, as well as recent albums of songwriters Georgia Stitt (My Lifelong Love), Scott Alan (What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up) and Kait Kerrigan & Brian Lowdermilk (Our First Mistake). Her television credits include the HBO pilot “The Miraculous Year,” the PBS special “Sondheim: The Birthday Concert” at Avery Fisher Hall, which is available on DVD and The 2011 Kennedy Center Honors, as part of the tribute to Barbara Cook.
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William Bolcom and Joan Morris
William Bolcom and Joan Morris
Traversing Broadway, vaudeville and music hall, performing music from the ragtime era to the end of the 20th century, the husband-and-wife duo of William Bolcom and Joan Morris have delighted audiences across the United States and around the world since 1973. The duo has 24 recordings to their credit, from their Grammy-nominated debut After the Ball to recent collections of songs by Yip Harburg, Gus Kahn and Arnold Weinstein/William Bolcom. Their newest CD, Someone Talked!: Memories of World War II, with tenor Robert White and narrator Hazen Schumacher, was released on the Equilibrium label in 2009.
At the piano is composer and raconteur William Bolcom. Named 2007 Composer of the Year by Musical America, Mr. Bolcom has written cabaret songs, concertos, sonatas, operas and symphonies. He was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for his 12 New Etudes for piano, and he won Grammy Awards for his setting of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. He was one of the driving forces behind the ragtime revival that began in the 1970s.
Chanteuse Joan Morris brings out a cast of characters with her vocal stylings. She has premiered many of her husband’s concert and musical theater works in the US and the UK, performing with the BBC, Pacific, Seattle and St. Louis symphonies. Ms. Morris has appeared in productions at the Guthrie and Prince Music theaters and has sung at the Café Carlyle, Waldorf-Astoria, Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center and other New York nightspots.
Both Mr. Bolcom and Ms. Morris taught at the University of Michigan; they continue to concertize, hold residencies and give master classes across the country. Their website is bolcomandmorris.com.
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