Knickerbocker Holiday Pokes Democracy With Songs

PlayBlog   Knickerbocker Holiday Pokes Democracy With Songs
On Jan. 25, while many Americans were watching President Obama's State of the Union address, a large audience at Alice Tully Hall was hearing the political views of Knickerbocker Holiday's leading man Brom Broeck, a character who can hardly tolerate any government at all.

This concert production of the rarely performed 1938 musical by composer Kurt Weill and lyricist/librettist Maxwell Anderson drew not only curious New Yorkers, but musical theatre connoisseurs from neighboring states. The previously announced Broadway stars Kelli O'Hara, Victor Garber, Christopher Fitzgerald were joined by top character actors Brad Oscar, Brooks Ashmanskas, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Michael McCormick, Orville Mendoza and Steve Rosen, who filled small roles as bumbling and corrupt councilors and gamely plied the Dutch/German accent called for in the script. (The show is set in 1647, in New Amsterdam — old New York.) David Garrison, most recently seen in Wicked, played Tienhoven, the head of the council and the most corrupt of them all.

Less well known, perhaps, but headed for bright futures were actors Ben Davis who played Brom, and Bryce Pinkham, who played Washington Irving, an aspiring writer who occasionally pleads with the other characters to behave in ways that befit a book with hopes of large sales. Their duet, "How Can You Tell an American?," was a highlight of the evening.

Handsome Davis also sang duets with O'Hara, who charmingly played Tina, a rather generic love interest. "It Never Was You" was particularly pleasing. "September Song," the only song most concert-goers knew going in, was sung by neither of the young lovers. It was written for the much older character Peter Stuyvesant (played by Victor Garber with an iron hand in a velvet glove) to sing to Tina. A slightly altered lyric is used in most pop versions of the song. Here, first and second refrains were heard with the original character — and situation — appropriate words.

Under the baton of James Bagwell, the 26 (!) members of the American Symphony Orchestra sounded wonderful. The Collegiate Chorale, who produced the event, sang with brio. The concert will be repeated on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Read's feature about Knickerbocker Holiday here and view's photo coverage of the Jan. 25 performance here.

[caption id="attachment_13251" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="The cast of Knickerbocker Holiday (photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN)"]The cast of <i>Knickerbocker Holiday</i>[/caption]

—Amy Asch

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