Just like last year, White Barn will stage weekend shows this summer, June 4-26, in Greenwich Village. The first show of the series, In the Basie-Miller Mood, plays June 4-6 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The show celebrates 100 years of the music of Count Basie and Glenn Miller.
The musical celebration is directed and musical-staged by Mercedes Ellington with Frank Owens as musical director. "The best of music and swing will be performed by a talented company of singers and dancers that includes vocalist Marion Cowings; vocalist-tap dancer Karen Callaway-Williams; tap dancer Alexander Cowings and the dancing couples of Matt Bidell & Jennifer Jones and Mickey Davidson & Kevin Gaudin," according to the announcement.
Some of the show's highlights include such Glenn Miller and Count Basie classics as "Little Brown Jug," "I Got A Gal In Kalamazoo," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "String Of Pearls," "In the Mood," "Moonlight Serenade" and more.
By special arrangement with the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation, four special weekend presentations will take place at the historic Lucille Lortel Theatre at 121 Christopher Street. Lortel was the actress and producer known for embracing edgy, new and foreign work in the mid-20th century, both Off-Broadway and at her White Barn in rustic Connecticut.
The Lortel/White Barn series is produced by Vincent Curcio and artistic supervisor Donald Saddler, with artistic advisory board member Dr. Mary C. Henderson.
The remaining shows are:
June 24-25-26: Ain't We Got Fun: Songs With the Lyrics of Gus Kahn, starring William Bolcom and Joan Morris, Max Morath and Robert White. The prolific writer of Tin Pan Alley pops songs — as well as songs for film and Broadway — worked with Walter Donaldson, Al Jolson, the Gershwins and Vincent Youmans. Performances are Friday at 8 PM; Saturday 4 & 8 PM; Sunday 3 & 7 PM except the final weekend June 24 at 8 PM; June 25 6 & 9 PM and June 26 at 4 & 8 PM.
Tickets are $35-$40 with $10 student tickets available 30 minutes before each performance. For tickets, go to telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200.
In 2003, White Barn presented weekend cabaret shows featuring Patty Clark, Joan Morris and William Bolcom and others. The White Barn's status, officially, is that renovations are planned, but the board is reportedly exploring selling off the Westport land and/or razing the barn theatre in order to continue its not-for-profit theatre initiatives.
Lucille Lortel (founder and artistic director, 1947-1999) founded the White Barn Theatre in Westport, Connecticut, in 1947 for the purpose of presenting works of an unusual and experimental nature. Her mission was to develop the talents of new playwrights, composers, actors, directors and designers, and to allow established artists to open themselves up to new directions in their careers by performing in pieces they might not have been able to do in commercial theatre. Lortel also owned the Lucille Lortel Theatre (formerly the Theatre de Lys) in New York.
In 1981, the Museum of the City of New York honored Lortel with an exhibition proclaiming her The Queen of Off-Broadway, a title first given to her in 1962 by Richard Coe of The Washington Post. Among the many honors, awards and distinctions bestowed upon her in more than a half century as a producer were the first Margo Jones Award (1962), the first Lee Strasberg Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Award (1985), a salute by The Players Club as The First Lady of Off-Broadway (1986), induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame (1990), and the Drama League's Unique Contribution to Theatre Award (1993). In 1986 the Lucille Lortel awards were established in her name to honor outstanding productions and individual achievements in each Off-Broadway season. Lortel was nominated for five Tony Awards. In October 1998, less than six months before she passed away, The Playwrights' Sidewalk at the Lucille Lortel Theatre was dedicated, enshrining an international roster of playwrights whose works have been produced Off- Broadway.