The 34th season of the famed series kicks off Jan. 10-12, 2004, with John Pizzarelli’s Pentimento, Pizzarelli's theatrical adaptation of wife Jessica Molaskey's CD of the same name. The evening will feature classics like "We’re in the Money," "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning" and "What’ll I Do" interspersed with dramatic readings that evoke the era in which the songs were composed. In a statement, Molaskey says, "These songs sound so cheerful and upbeat, but when you listen again in the context of what was going on in those times, they sound more melancholy. They tell the story of a time when people tried to focus on the possibilities of what tomorrow might bring, even when lives were being turned upside down and people were facing widespread poverty."
Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole will join Pizzarelli and Molaskey for the weekend of concerts. The show will also feature the talents of Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Johnny Frigo on violin, Ken Peplowski on clarinet, Ray Kennedy on bass and drummer Tony Tedesco. Author Frank McCourt will also be on hand to read selections from his novel "Angela's Ashes."
The series continues in February with chanteuse Mary Cleere Haran, who will explore the work of Harry Warren in Harry Warren: There Will Never Be Another You. From Feb. 14-16, Haran will interpret such Warren tunes as "I Love My Baby," "You'll Never Know" and "Chattanooga Choo-Choo."
Musical director Ted Sperling, who also starred in the Tony-winning musical Titanic, will offer his show March 20-22, 2004. Entitled Beyond the Rainbow: 'Yip' Harburg, the show will discuss the legacy of the Russian-Jewish immigrant who wrote the lyrics for Finian's Rainbow and "The Wizard of Oz." Expect to hear such Harburg classics as "April in Paris," "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" and "It's Only a Paper Moon."
From May 8-10, 2004, cabaret veteran Andrea Marcovicci will serve as singer and host of Easy to Love: The Lyrics of Cole Porter. Marcovicci, who is currently in the midst of a Frank Loesser program at the Algonquin, has selected a company of performers she recently called her "dream team": Anna Bergman, Klea Blackhurst, Mark Coffin, Jeff Harnar and newcomer Maude Maggart. Bergman will offer some of Porter’s soprano-friendly work ("You Do Something to Me"); Blackhurst, an Ethel Merman aficionado, will handle the belty material; Harnar will croon the works written for the "male ingénue" (expect to hear the multi-versed "It’s Delovely"); and Coffin will lend a Sinatra-like sensibility to the Porter repertoire. Rob Fisher, the musical director of the City Center Encores! Series, has fashioned a show entitled The Wit and Wisdom of Ira Gershwin, which will be presented June 12-14, 2004. The show — starring a cast to be announced — will explore the lyrics of Ira Gershwin, who worked with brother George and, after George’s death, Burton Lane and Kurt Weill. Says Fisher, "There’s a certain joie de vivre in Ira’s work with George, which comes partly from George’s music. They were a perfect team for the 20 years they worked together, and although he never found an equally perfect partner, he continued to grow and develop as a lyricist. I’m interested in how he was a different lyricist with different composers, and in how the music changed his approach to words."
Subscriptions to the 2004 "Lyrics & Lyricists" are available by calling (212) 415-5500 or by visiting the 92nd Street Y box office, Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street. For more information, go to www.92y.org.