Jonathan Groff, who earned Tony nominations for his Broadway roles in Hamilton and Spring Awakening, will veer into the world of 1950s pop, embodying the singer Bobby Darin as the opening production of the 2018 season of the Lyrics & Lyricists series.
Darin never appeared on Broadway, but had one of his biggest hits with a jazzy arrangement of the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht ballad “Moritat (Mack the Knife)” from The Threepenny Opera.
The concert, titled The Bobby Darin Story, will kick off the 2018 season, the first under the producership of Theodore S. Chapin, longtime president of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, and former chair of the American Theater Wing.
The Bobby Darin Story will be presented for five performances, January 20–22. The 2018 Lyrics & Lyricists season will continue February 24–26 with Lenny’s Lyricists, a program of songs by the lyricists who worked with composer Leonard Bernstein (including Comden & Green and Stephen Sondheim), then An Evening With Lynn Ahrens (March 24–26), a program of songs by the lyricist of Anastasia, Ragtime, Once on This Island, and Seussical; followed by Irving Berlin: American (May 5–7) marking the 100th anniversary of “God Bless America” by the composer of Annie Get Your Gun, Miss Liberty, and Call Me Madam. The season will wrap with Frank Loesser: Lyricist (June 2–4), salute to the songwriter of Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Chapin told Playbill, “I have loved L&L all along, and was honored when Deb Winer asked me to create one of the programs a few years ago. When the folks upstairs at the Y asked me about taking over, I thought it would be fun to look both forward and back. Back: invite a bona fide lyricist to hold court, discuss the art of lyric writing, and illustrate with singers. Hence Lynn Ahrens—and I look forward to helping her shape the evening. Forward: find stories about the American Songbook that haven't been told, or from angles that haven't been explored. Few know that Bobby Darin wrote over 150 songs, including some of his big hits. He was an extraordinary performer, transforming during his short career from a rock and roller ("Splish Splash"—one of his songs) to a master of standards ("Mack the Knife") and even an Academy Award nominated actor. Putting the focus on Darin came from a conversation with Jonathan Groff at dinner one night, and he dove into YouTube and was hooked. And that's just two of next season's programs. I'm excited.”
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