Steven Jamail is musical director of the April 12 concert, which will explore Arlen's work beginning at 9:30 PM.
Guest performers include Jay Armstrong Johnson (On the Town), Katie Rose Clarke (Wicked, Light in the Piazza), Julia Murney (Wicked, The Wild Party), Zakiya Young (The Little Mermaid, Stick Fly), Alan H. Green (Sister Act) and Katie Thompson (Giant).
Here's how it's billed: "From Harlem's Cotton Club to the Golden Age of Hollywood, Harold Arlen's natural ease for jazz and blues gave him a distinct voice in the Great American Songbook. Inspired by their mutual love for the strain of an Arlen tune, Broadway leading lady Teal Wicks (Finding Neverland, Wicked, Jekyll and Hyde) and music director Steven Jamail offer an intimate evening of song exploring the work of their favorite composer. From his iconic standards to the lesser known gems, audience members can expect classic and re-imagined arrangements of one of America's greatest songwriters."
54 Below is located at 254 W. 54th Street. There is a $25-$60 cover charge plus a $25 food and beverage minimum. For more information and tickets, visit 54Below.com.
Teal Wicks: Well, how can I pick just one song?! I'm doing a whole night of his music and am only scratching the surface of his incredible catalogue. If I had to pick a performance of one of my favorite songs, it would have to be Judy Garland's "The Man That Got Away" in "A Star is Born." It was one of my "all time thrills" (see what I did there) hearing and watching that performance. The song is brilliant, and that scene is so wonderful; just an empty bar, a great band and a great bluesy power ballad. It doesn't get much better than that.
Steven Jamail: As cliché as it may be, "Over the Rainbow" is about as perfect of a song as there is. While Judy's original is hard to beat, I can't decide between two more recent interpretations — Linda Eder's stunning and simple rendition and U.K. sensation Danielle Hope's winning performance.
Jay Armstrong Johnson: My favorite Arlen tune is one that makes me laugh. A long running joke in my family is that my aunt wants for me to sing at her funeral. My mother once retorted, "Well, what's he gonna sing? 'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead'?" This still makes me giggle after so many years.
Micah Burgess (guitarist): "I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues" recording by Louis Armstrong with the Russell Garcia big band. I was really into Louis Armstrong when I was in high school and that particular song stuck with me partly due to Louis' super laidback phrasing. Also, the lyrics are universal. After all, everyone's gotta right to sing the blues!
Julia Murney: One of my favorite Arlen songs is "Right As The Rain" from Bloomer Girl. I had actually forgotten about the song, but was asked to sing it recently at Town Hall and suddenly recalled Maureen McGovern's exquisite recording of it. If you've never heard it, race yourself to it the second you get a chance. PS: I stole liberally from the diva for my rendition — gotta bow down however you can.
Zakyia Young: My favorite Harold Arlen song is "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" from the film "Cabin in the Sky." I was first introduced to the piece on the first day of rehearsal for a Harold Arlen revue at Stamford Theatre Works called "Over the Rainbow." The song would be my big solo moment — and I had an emotional attachment to the song as soon as I started working on it. Realizing that you're truly in love is such a delicious moment — and the melody that Harold Arlen wrote to convey that moment of discovery is beautifully honest and a delight to sing. Here's a clip of Audra McDonald singing the song.
Katie Rose Clarke: I'll never forget a conversation I had with my sister when we were really young. She said to me after watching "The Wizard of Oz," "'If I Only Had a Brain' is a really well-written song. It's so clever and catchy.' Ha! I was probably only eight or nine years old. She was older and smarter, but she got me thinking about it, and I completely agreed with her. We'd seen the movie so many times, it never occurred to me to form an opinion about the music. But, I also have to say I love everything Etta James did, especially her "Stormy Weather." In college, I would sing along with her over and over again, trying to have as much soul as she had.