The Music of Vernon Duke Will Feature Erin Mackey, Heidi Blickenstaff, Rebecca Luker, James Clow, Matthew Scott
By Michael Gioia
Taking a Chance on Love: The Music of Vernon Duke, featuring the work of Broadway composer Vernon Duke, will be offered April 6-8 as part of 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series.
Hosted by guest artistic director David Loud (musical supervisor of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and conductor of the incidental music for Death of a Salesman), who also provides music direction, Taking a Chance on Love will be offered April 6 at 8 PM, April 7 at 2 PM and 7 PM and April 8 at 2 PM and 7:30 PM.
Loud will be joined by vocalists Heidi Blickenstaff ([title of show]), James Clow (Assassins, Blood Brothers, Company), Rebecca Luker (Show Boat, The Music Man, Mary Poppins), Erin Mackey (Chaplin, Anything Goes, Wicked) and Matthew Scott (Sondheim on Sondheim, Jersey Boys), with dancers Kylie Shea Lewallen (Olivier Wevers' Whim W'him) and Michaeljon Slinger (West Side Story, Billy Elliot) on hand to perform a number from Duke's first theatrical production, the Diaghilev-commissioned ballet Zéphyr et Flore, staged in the 1925 season of Ballets Russes.
Noah Racey is the stage director and choreographer.
According to 92nd Street Y, "[Duke] was best friends with both American Songbook icon George Gershwin and Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Songs like 'April in Paris' (with Yip Harburg), 'Taking a Chance on Love' (with John Latouche and Ted Fetter), 'I Can't Get Started' (with Ira Gershwin) and 'Autumn in New York' are standards. His musical Cabin in the Sky, starring Ethel Waters in both stage and film versions, was a hit. And yet Vernon Duke is an enigma, according to David Loud, guest artistic director for Taking a Chance on Love: The Music of Vernon Duke, Lyrics & Lyricists' first-ever tribute to this enigmatic songwriter."
"Vernon Duke has always been a mystery," added Loud in a statement. "There is no comprehensive Vernon Duke songbook or compendium, so when you came across a song you liked, there was no easy way to find more. But when I started collecting them, I found that what's in the popular canon is just the tip of the iceberg. Each new discovery – you find Duke songs tucked away in unexpected places –struck me as original, interesting and sophisticated."
Duke's musicals include Sweet Bye and Bye, Two's Company, Sadie Thompson and Banjo Eyes.
For more information on the 2012-13 Lyrics & Lyricists concert series, click here. Concerts in the series will be held at the Kaufmann Concert Hall.
For more information and tickets, visit 92y.org/Lyrics.
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