Playbill Playlist: John Turturro, Robert Cuccioli, Santino Fontana and Zorba! Cast Pick Kander & Ebb Favorites

Playlist   Playbill Playlist: John Turturro, Robert Cuccioli, Santino Fontana and Zorba! Cast Pick Kander & Ebb Favorites
 
The City Center Encores! production of the classic Kander and Ebb musical Zorba! plays the famed Manhattan venue through May 10. Members of the cast pick their favorite Kander and Ebb songs as part of this week's Playbill Playlist

John Turturro stars in the title role with Adam Chanler-Berat as Mimiko, Robert Cuccioli as Mavrodani, Elizabeth A. Davis as The Widow, Santino Fontana as Niko, Marin Mazzie as The Leader, Robert Montano as Manolakas, Carlos Valdes as Pavli and Zoë Wanamaker as Hortense.

The ensemble comprises Enrique Acevedo, Yusef Bulos, Laura D’Andre, Sean Ewing, Richard Gatta, Evangelia Kingsley, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Vanessa Lemonides, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Michelle Peterson, David Scott Purdy, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, Matthew Rossoff, Rommy Sandhu, Gavriel Savit, Allysa Shorte, Evan D. Siegel, Joseph J. Simeone , Alex Syiek, Nicholas Ward and James Zannelli.

Santino Fontana and John Turturro
Santino Fontana and John Turturro Photo by Joan Marcus

Directed by Walter Bobbie, the limited engagement has choreography by Josh Rhodes and musical direction by Rob Berman. The musical marks the final production of New York City Center’s 2015 Encores! season.

Zorba!, according to press notes, is Joseph Stein, John Kander and Fred Ebb’s re-imagining of Nikos Kazantzakis’s best-selling tale of "Zorba (John Turturro), a larger than life Greek jack-of-all-trades who 'lives every day as if it will be his last' and his friendship with Nikos (Santino Fontana), a young American student. Life becomes complicated when the men become involved with two women: Zorba with the aging innkeeper Madame Hortense (Zoë Wanamaker) and Nikos with a beautiful widow. Commenting on the story is a Greek chorus-like group, led by The Leader (Marin Mazzie), who begins the play by explaining exactly what 'Life Is.'"

Zorba! has a book by Stein, music by Kander and lyrics by Ebb. It was adapted from "Zorba the Greek" by Kazantzakis. The original production starred Herschel Bernardi and Maria Karnilova and was directed by Harold Prince. It opened at the Imperial Theatre Nov. 16, 1968, and ran for 305 performances. Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at the New York City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues), by calling (212) 581-1212, or online at NYCityCenter.org.

Adam Chanler-Berat: "Only Love" from Zorba! hit me in a whole new way at the read-through last Saturday. It's heartbreaking. It's simple. It's honest.

Robert Cuccioli: I would choose "And the World Goes 'Round" as my favorite. It lays out the simple truth: Life may be cruel and arbitrary, but with each new day there's a chance for hope and optimism.

Elizabeth A. Davis: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the quirky song "Sign Here" from Flora The Red Menace, as sung by The Visit's George Abud. "And the World Goes Round" takes second place.

Santino Fontana: "Sing Happy" because it's pretty unstoppably infectious.

Marin Mazzie: I have many favorite Kander & Ebb songs, but one of my big favorites is "A Quiet Thing" from Flora The Red Menace. It has one of John's beautiful, lush, romantic melodies and Fred's lyric is purely heartfelt: "I don't hear the drums, I don't hear the band, the sounds I'm told such moments bring. Happiness comes in on tip-toe. Well what'd'ya you know, it’s a quiet thing, a very quiet thing" … Perfect!

Robert Montano: As a proud New Yorker, born and raised, I'd have to say my favorite Kander & Ebb song is "New York, New York." It's the greatest city in the world…the energy, excitement and opportunity it offers. And, this song exemplifies that. What other city can you go a diner at 3 AM, have a cup of Joe and a muffin and just sit, think or write. What a tune… It is the city that never sleeps. And, it's my anthem!

John Turturro: "Life Is" from Zorba! I love the music, and I love the sentiment behind it. I think it's a great way to think of life.

Carlos Valdes: It's practically impossible for me to pick an absolute favorite Kander & Ebb piece, but I have to say one of my favorites is "Gimme Love" from Kiss of the Spider Woman. One of the most prevalent and fascinating traits found in these two writers' legendary body of work is their ability to juxtapose unsettling circumstances with a showbiz extravagance, and this number conveys stark dichotomies artfully with an infectious Latin American soundscape so different from other sounds they explored throughout their collective career.

 Zoë Wanamaker: "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago.

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