After 14 seasons of acclaimed eclecticism showcasing the richness of American popular music — most on one of the loveliest stages in New York City, The Allen Room, with its shimmering, backdrop of Central Park — Lincoln Center's American Songbook series expands its musical vistas in 2013 to include a second room with a spectacular view, the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse.
This is both a return and an expansion. "Over the years, we've been very successful at The Allen Room," says Jon Nakagawa, one half of Songbook's production team alongside his booking partner, Charles Cermele. "We also feel that with our success, we've gotten a little safe."
Cermele agrees it's time to shake things up. "We want to go back to taking risks. So we're going back to the Kaplan Penthouse, where we presented more adventurous fare during the early years of American Songbook, while maintaining our full schedule in The Allen Room."
The first installment of the newly expanded season commences on Jan. 30 with an opening Allen Room concert by Lea Salonga, the silvery-voiced Tony Award winner. She became a star at the age of 20 as the Vietnamese bar girl Kim, the humane heart of the original 1991 Broadway production of Miss Saigon. Salonga is now a mature artist, yet her voice retains its childlike luster.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.