Paradise-Bound Tony Nominee Kate Baldwin Fills Her 2010 Calendar With Music

News   Paradise-Bound Tony Nominee Kate Baldwin Fills Her 2010 Calendar With Music With a song in her heart, 2010 Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin gets on a London-bound jet May 8 to continue rehearsals that began in New York City for the new musical Paradise Found.
Kate Baldwin
Kate Baldwin

Resurrecting music by Johann Strauss II, with new lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh, the show — co-directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman — will premiere May 19 at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London.

It's been a busy 2009-10 for Baldwin: in addition to performing in readings and small concerts, she recorded her solo debut album, "Let's See What Happens," a PS Classics disc of obscure and beloved songs by Finian's Rainbow collaborators Yip Harburg and Burton (songs they wrote together, and with others); she played Sharon in the fall 2009 Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow (an expansion of the earlier Encores! concert revival), for which she is Best-Actress Tony-nommed; she recorded the cast album on the PS Classics label; she made her debut at the Manhattan nightspot Feinstein's at Loews Regency; she offered a freshened variation on that gig at Birdland (Rob Berman was music director for all of these shows — including the Encores! launch of Finian's Rainbow, then its Broadway expansion and her album); she sang in a Town Hall Broadway by the Year concert, dipping into the catalog of 1927; she appeared in the concert cast of a Washington, DC, concert of the little-known Harold Arlen-Ira Gershwin-Yip Harburg musical musical Life Begins at 8:40 (it was later recorded by PS Classics); she was Drama Desk-nominated for Finian's Rainbow and then Tony-nominated. Which brings us to her May 8 flight to London with cast mates John McMartin, Nancy Opel, Judy Kaye, Shuler Hensley and Mandy Patinkin.

Since she's already on a roll, and since Paradise Found plays to June 26 in London, we jokingly asked the busy Baldwin why she didn't hyperextend herself and seek to give the London debut of her nightclub act?

"Well," Baldwin told Playbill.com, "I've approached two London nightclubs about doing an evening, and the dates unfortunately don't work. Timing was an issue with the opening of the show, and now [with my flying back for the Tonys] — and an added performance on a Sunday night to make up for canceling the one on June 13 — we just couldn't make it work. But I am planning some concert work for the late summer into fall and winter."

[AUDIO-LEFT]After she plays Agnes in a Susan H. Schulman-directed revival of I Do! I Do! at Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut in August, Baldwin will not be slowing down. Here's a sampling of her music itinerary in the months following Paradise Found:

  • On July 30, she'll sing with the Chesapeake Orchestra in the River Concert Series at St Mary's College of Maryland (www.smcm.edu/rcs) in St. Mary's City, MD. Expect show music and American pop standards.
  • She's talking to Feinstein's and is hopeful for a return engagement after Labor Day.
  • Nov. 29-Dec. 6, she'll sing with Palm Beach Pops in Florida, at the Kravis Center: about seven songs with orchestra and seven songs with a smaller jazz combo, she said. The repertoire will range from Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Bock & Harnick and Sondheim (for the orchestra numbers) and selections from her album (for the smaller combo).
  • Jan. 12-17, 2011, she'll join Jonathan Tunick and Shuler Hensley for a week of Rodgers & Hammerstein concerts (Tunick orchestrations and Tunick conducting) with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. There is also hope among producers and musical theatre fans that Paradise Found will have a wider commercial life back in New York City.

    Richard Nelson's libretto is based on the novel "The Tale of the 1002nd Night" by Joseph Roth. The Strauss music is adapted and arranged by Jonathan Tunick.

    In the show, according Menier Chocolate Factory notes, "The Shah of Persia is feeling low. So to lift his spirits he's off to Vienna with his Eunuch [Patinkin] in tow for some new adventures. He promptly falls in love with the Empress of the Empire, much to the dismay of her husband, so a resident of the local brothel — who is a double for the Empress — is substituted for a night of passion. But she's in love with a Baron, who's having an affair with the Soap Manufacturer's Wife…."

    The plot seems as happily complicated as Baldwin's upcoming schedule. For more information, visit kate-baldwin.com.

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