In honor of Richard Rodgers' centennial, Symphony Space — now redubbed the Peter Norton Symphony Space after philanthropist Peter Norton — will offer its 32nd annual "Wall to Wall" concert featuring the work of the late composer of South Pacific, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, The Boys from Syracuse and many other classics. Wall to Wall Richard Rodgers will begin at 11 AM on March 23 at the New York landmark and will continue until 11 PM that evening.
A host of Broadway and cabaret performers are scheduled to take to the stage of the vast auditorium including Loni Ackerman, Richard Rodney Bennett, Barbara Carroll, Victoria Clark, Betty Comden, John Cullum, Lea DeLaria, Melissa Errico, Raul Esparza, Tovah Feldshuh, Debbie Gravitte, Adolph Green, Jonathan Hadary, Sheldon Harnick, Mary Cleere Haran, Celeste Holm, Spencer Kayden, Judy Kaye, Emily Loesser, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Garrett Long, Rebecca Luker, John Mauceri, Maureen McGovern, James Naughton, Christiane Noll, Patrick Quinn, Steve Ross, David Staller, Billy Stritch, KT Sullivan and David Yazbek.
Admission to the concert is free, and patrons may sample a few moments or stay several hours. The entire program can also be heard on WNYC radio with portions broadcast live on the day of the event and other segments broadcast the following day. Wall to Wall Richard Rodgers, which will explore the six-decade career of the composer of over 900 songs, is being staged by Symphony Space Artistic Director Isaiah Sheffer and produced by Maren Berthelsen.
Highlights of the 12-hour marathon include selections from Rodgers' award winning collaborations with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II; the premiere of the "newly discovered" Rodgers and Hart musical, Manhattan Madcaps of 1924; a full orchestra that will play overtures from Rodgers' many works; and a "Broadway Salutes" segment that will feature current Broadway actors performing their favorite Rodgers' tunes between the matinee and evening performance of their respective shows.
Wall to Wall Richard Rodgers at a glance:
11 AM - 2 PM:
•"Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" : One of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most famous tunes kicks off the celebration. Several politicians will sing, including Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
•"Victory at Sea": The InterSchool Orchestra of New York Symphonic Band performs excerpts from this orchestral work, which was written for a 1952 television documentary.
•"Swinging Rodgers I": Howard Alden and Barbara Carroll are among the jazz instrumentalists who will perform.
•"Rodgers & Daughters": Rodgers' daughters Mary Rodgers Guettel and Linda Rodgers Emory discuss their father and his music.
•"Swinging Rodgers II": Vocal jazz interpretations of Rodgers songs. 2 PM - 5 PM:
•"A Hammerstein Matinee: A Grand Night for Singing": Victoria Clark and Lynne Wintersteller are among those who will perform excerpts from A Grand Night for Singing, the hit Broadway revue.
•"With a Song in My Heart": KT Sullivan, Nora York and Steve Ross interpret their favorite Rodgers songs.
•"Manhattan Madcaps of 1924": The premiere of this long-lost Rodgers and Hart musical features David Staller, Don Stephenson, Emily Loesser, Garrett Long, Ivy Austin, Marcy DeGonge-Manfredi and others.
5 PM - 8 PM:
•"Later Lyrics": A look at Rodgers' career post Hart and Hammerstein, including his collaborations with Sheldon Harnick, Martin Charnin and Stephen Sondheim. Harnick will speak about the musical Rex, and there will be performances from Rex, Do I Hear a Waltz?, Two By Two and No Strings.
•"Today's Broadway Salutes Richard Rodgers": Urinetown's John Cullum and Spencer Kayden, Cabaret's Raul Esparza, 42nd Street's Billy Stritch and Mamma Mia's Judy Kaye pay tribute to the Broadway legend.
•"Swinging Rodgers III": Top jazz pianists perform Rodgers standards, and there will be performances from two of cabaret's finest, Mary Cleere Haran and Maureen McGovern.
8 PM - 11 PM:
•"Some Enchanted Evening": John Mauceri conducts the Wall to Wall Richard Rodgers Orchestra during this three-hour songfest, which includes performances from Broadway's Rebecca Luker, James Naughton, Patrick Quinn, Debbie Gravitte, Melissa Errico, Christiane Noll, Lea DeLaria, Ivy Austin and original Oklahoma! star Celeste Holm.
Symphony Space reopens to the public March 20 — with its 18th annual Selected Shorts, a celebration of the short story — having been closed since June 16 to accommodate major renovations. Symphony Space will now have a pair of theatres: its existing mainstage and a revived Thalia. Its main auditorium will now be known as the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre after the late philanthropist, and its film/performance theatre is the Leonard Nimoy Thalia after the "Star Trek" actor.
Peter Norton Symphony Space, located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, was redesigned by acclaimed architect James Stewart Polshek of Polshek Partnership. For more information, log on to symphonyspace.org.
—By Andrew Gans