EXCLUSIVE: Kathy Bates, John Lithgow, Jesse Tyler Ferguson Bring Symphonic "Novel" Trumpet of the Swan to Life in Recording

News   EXCLUSIVE: Kathy Bates, John Lithgow, Jesse Tyler Ferguson Bring Symphonic "Novel" Trumpet of the Swan to Life in Recording
Playwright Marsha Norman and composer Jason Robert Brown's The Trumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony for Actors and Orchestra, the music-and-narration piece for actors and musicians (including one fierce trumpet player), will get its recording premiere June 21 with a release by PS Classics, the label dedicated to the heritage of Broadway and American popular song.

John Lithgow
John Lithgow

PS Classics co-founder Philip Chaffin announced the recording's all-star cast, including John Lithgow (The Sweet Smell of Success, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, TV's "3rd Rock From the Sun") as Sam, Kathy Bates (Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, "Misery" and TV's "Harry's Law") as Sam's Mother/Mother Swan, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, TV's "Modern Family") as Louis' Thoughts, hit-recording artist Mandy Moore as Serena, James Naughton (City of Angels, Chicago) as Sam's Father/Father Swan and Martin Short (Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me) as Man.

The role of Louis is performed, musically, by trumpeter Christopher Venditti, of the recent Kennedy Center production. Separately, Lithgow and Bates have previously appeared in Kennedy Center productions of the piece.

Commissioned by the Kennedy Center, where it premiered in November 2008 (and played a return engagement in March 2011), the show — based on the children's book by E.B. White — has music and lyrics by Tony Award winner Brown (13, The Last Five Years, Parade, Songs for a New World) and text by Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony-winning playwright Norman (The Secret Garden, The Color Purple, 'night, Mother). The studio recording is conducted by Brown, who is also the record's producer. Sam Davis wrote the orchestrations.

The Trumpet of the Swan, according PS Classics, "tells the story of Louis, the young trumpeter swan who was born without a voice, but who, with the help of his courageous father, and a loyal boy named Sam, overcomes his adversities, learns to write and play the trumpet, and finds fame, fortune and true love in the big world."

Brown told Playbill.com, "The Trumpet of the Swan has been the most joyful and continually inspiring experience of my musical life. Being able to tell E. B. White's story with music was a challenge I looked forward to meeting every day, and having Marsha Norman as my collaborator was nothing but pleasure. Getting to conduct this orchestra of the best session players in Los Angeles was the fulfillment of a life-long dream, and then having this unbelievable cast is more than I ever could have wished. I know it sounds like a list of clichéd superlatives, but I mean every word: I have never had more fun or been more musically fulfilled than working on this recording." Norman added, "I have loved E. B. White's work for my whole life as a writer, from his 'Elements of Style' through 'Charlotte's Web' and on to 'The Trumpet of the Swan.' He is a national treasure. My hope is that in finding an orchestral voice for Louis the Swan, Jason and I can introduce this beautiful story to an audience of students and families, giving them the joy of seeing a big orchestra and fabulous actors."

Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and a six-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through its award-winning cast recordings, solo albums and recordings drawn from rare sound archives, including "Sondheim Sings." Upcoming releases include studio cast albums of the Gershwins' 1930 Strike Up the Band and the long-lost Vernon Duke/Ogden Nash musical Sweet Bye and Bye. Visit the label's website, www.psclassics.com.

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