Major names from the classical, opera and theatre worlds — the Orchestra of St. Luke's, director Francesca Zambello, adaptor Doug Wright and music director Paul Gemignani, among others — collaborated to moor the Cotton Blossom into the famed music hall. The performance is at 8 PM.
The principal cast of the Carnegie Hall Show Boat includes Becky Ann Baker (of Broadway's Assassins) as Parthy, Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello (Lestat, Mamma Mia!) as Julie, Alteouise deVaughn as Queenie, Tony nominee Gregg Edelman (1776, City of Angels, Wonderful Town) as Steve Baker, Nathan Gunn (of the recent Lincoln Center Camelot concert) as Gaylord Ravenal, Tony nominee Jonathan Hadary (Herbie in the Tyne Daly Gypsy) as Cap'n Andy, the legendary opera diva Marilyn Horne as the Lady on the Levee, Tony nominee Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins) as Frank Schultz, John Bedford Lloyd as Vallon, Alvy Powell as Joe, Celena Shafer as Magnolia Hawks, Megan Sikora (Curtains) as Ellie Mae Chipley and Carly Rose Sonenclar as Kim.
The Carnegie Hall staging will also include period costumes, dancers and onstage projections. The projections, according to press notes, "will consist of pen-and-ink illustrations and sketches projected on the back wall of the stage to depict the passage of time from the late 19th to early 20th centuries during which the musical takes place."
This is the third property of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization to get a starry concert version at Carnegie Hall: R&H's Carousel and South Pacific were seen there in lean stagings that emphasized the music. Arguably, both of those 1940s-written shows would not have happened had Show Boat (1927) not paved the way, allowing for serious topics — like spousal abandonment and racism — to be addressed in musicals.
Ted Chapin of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization told Playbill.com that it's hoped that Pulitzer Prize winner Wright's adaptation at Carnegie might be the template for a future licensable concert version of the sprawling, ambitious, richly melodic Show Boat, itself based on the novel by Edna Ferber. The Show Boat vocal ensemble features Derin Altay, Allison Blackwell, Jane Brockman, Leilani N. Bryant, Rebecca Eichenberger, Carmen Ruby Floyd Calloway, Patty Goble, Andrea Jones-Sojola, Monica L. Patton, Alison Walla, Darlesia Cearcy, Cicily Daniels, Liz Griffith, Blythe Gruda, Amy Justman, Q. Smith, Idara Victor, Kathy Voytko, Todd A. Horman, Johnathan Lee Iverson, Sydney James, Frank Mastrone, Sal Sabella, Wayne W. Pretlow, Lawrence E. Street, Kevin Vortmann, Maxime de Toledo, Eric Michael Gillett, Fred Inkley, Aaron Lee Lambert, C. Mingo Long, Jay Lusteck, JC Montgomery, Devin Richards, Jim Weitzer, Charles West, Osborn Focht, Gavin Gregory, T. Doyle Leverett, Robert Ousley and Dathan B. Williams.
The dance ensemble comprises Lawrence Alexander, Stephanie Battle, Eric Jackson, Courtney Jones, Anna Kaiser, Travis Kelley, Chad L. Schiro and Alison Solomon.
The major hit songs of the famed score remain intact here, but some tinkering has been done with the story to help the concert flow. Robert Russell Bennett's original, beloved orchestrations are being used.
There have been many versions of Show Boat over the years; directors have excised songs, added songs, rearranged scenes, inserted or subtracted dance. At Carnegie Hall, fans can expect the score's famous numbers, including "Make Believe," "You Are Love," "Life Upon the Wicked Stage," "Bill," "Why Do I Love You," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "Ol' Man River."
This concert will follow recent tradition and use the haunting "Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'," an ensemble number for members of the show's African-American community. Those characters, whose lives are stepped in spirituals, hardship and blues, foresee some unhappiness on the horizon and express it in the song. It's generally considered that the addition of the song deepens the emotional world of the show. ("Mis'ry," in fact, was heard as just a short snippet in 1927, much trimmed from its tryout presence; in the past 25 years, its longer version has been explored in revivals).
Musical director Gemignani conducts the Orchestra of St. Luke's. The creative team features Robert Longbottom (musical staging), I Am My Own Wife playwright Wright (concert adaptation), lighting designer Alan Adelman, Tony-winning scenic designer Scott Pask and costume designer Gregg Barnes with sound design by Acme Sound Partners.
The original Broadway production opened at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Dec. 27, 1927. Harold Prince directed the most recent Broadway production of the musical, which opened in 1994.
According to the Carnegie Hall Playbill, here's the running order of the scenes and musical numbers:
Overture / Orchestra
Scene 1: The magnificent Show Boat, docked in Natchez on the Mississippi, 1880s
"Cotton Blossom" / Ensemble
Parade and Ballyhoo / Cap'n Andy and Ensemble
"Where's the Mate for Me?" / Ravenal
"Make Believe" / Ravenal and Magnolia
"Ol' Man River" / Joe and Ensemble
Scene 2: The kitchen pantry on the Cotton Blossom
"Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" / Julie, Queenie, Magnolia, Joe, and Ensemble
Scene 3: The auditorium of the Cotton Blossom, next day
"Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'" / Queenie and Ensemble
Scene 4: Box office, on foredeck
"Life Upon the Wicked Stage" / Ellie, Frank, and Ensemble
"Queenie's Ballyhoo" / Queenie and Ensemble
Scene 5: The auditorium and stage of the Cotton Blossom
Scene 6: The deck of the Cotton Blossom, nighttime
"You Are Love" / Ravenal and Magnolia
Scene 7: The Cotton Blossom, decorated for a wedding party
Finale: Act I / Ensemble
Scene 1: The Midway Plaisance at the Chicago World's Fair, 1893
Entr'acte and Opening to Act II / Ensemble
Scene 2: Magnolia and Ravenal's suite at the Palmer House in Chicago
"Why Do I Love You?" / Ravenal and Magnolia
Scene 3: The Cotton Blossom, on the levee at Natchez
Scene 4: A room on Ontario Street, typical second-class boarding house of the day, 1904
Scene 5: The Trocadero Rehearsal Room, that evening
"Bill" (lyric by P. G. Wodehouse and Oscar Hammerstein II) / Julie
Scene 6: St. Agatha's Convent
Service and Scene Music / Ensemble
Reprise: "Make Believe" / Ravenal and Kim
Scene 7: Back at the Trocadero
Reprise: "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" / Magnolia
Scene 8: The lobby of the Palmer House Hotel
Scene 9: The Trocadero that very night
"Goodbye, My Lady Love" / Frank and Ellie
"After the Ball" (by Charles K. Harris) / Magnolia
Reprise: "Ol' Man River" / Joe
Scene 10: The Ziegfeld Follies
Reprise: "You Are Love" / Magnolia
Scene 11: On the Show Boat
Reprise: "You Are Love" / Ravenal
Finale / Ensemble
To read Playbill.com's feature about this concert revival, click here.
The gala evening will begin at 6 PM with dinner at Remi Restaurant (144 West 54th Street), followed by the 8 PM concert. Gala tickets, priced $1,000-$2,500, are available by calling (212) 903-9679.
A limited number of concert-only tickets, priced $36, $44, and $58, are available by calling CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800.
For more information visit www.carnegiehall.org.