This first show of the series is sold out. Broadway actor Danny Burstein, Luker's husband, hosts. The acoustic piano-and-voice concert, co-produced by Doug Okerson and creator Joel Fram, will be heard in one of the city's new recital spaces, Symphony Space's intimate 150-seat Leonard Nimoy Thalia. Grant Wenaus is the concert's pianist.
The New Composers Collective is dedicated to presenting the songs of up-and-coming composers from various areas of the performing arts. The composers whose works are featured on the concert — Sam Davis, Joel Fram, Joshua Rosenblum and Georgia Stitt — all come from highly diverse musical backgrounds, lending many song styles to the evening. Expect traditional American art songs, contemporary pop sounds and musical theatre songs from shows currently in development. Given the success of this first show, an April concert featuring other composers is being planned.
"The collective started with a bunch of us who work in theatre, who do things like play for shows, conduct, music direct, coach singers, but who are also composers," Joel Fram told Playbill On-Line. "We wanted a forum to present ourselves not just as performers and conductors, but as composers. We decided the proactive and empowering thing to do would be to create a concert and showcase ourselves as composers."
Fram, who has conduced The Music Man, Cats, James Joyce's The Dead and other shows on and off Broadway, said the group is a small clutch of people now, but will likely expand to include other writers. Once word got out about the upcoming concert, Fram said he started getting calls from his friends and colleagues in the musical theatre community asking how they could get in on the action. "The reason I like the idea of 'collective' is that we all come from different backgrounds and each person composes in radically different ways," Fram said, adding that although his business is show music, he writes art songs. Stitt, Davis and Rosenblum all write for the theatre, in different styles. Stitt, in particular, is not afraid to write stand-alone "honky tonk pop songs," Fram said.
The performers will sing works by all the composers in the Jan. 20 evening. A section of the 21-song concert will include pieces from the writers' new musicals, Fram promised. Stitt is composer of Watertown (lyrics by Jeff Hylton) about a Midwestern town trapped by a flood; Rosenbum composed Fermat's Last Tango and the new musical, Einstein's Dreams (lyrics by Joanne Sydney Lessner); and Davis handled music for a new show called Cloudland (lyrics by Randy Buck).
Rebecca Luker was last seen on Broadway as Marian Paroo in the revival of The Music Man, and was Clara in the Kennedy Center's Passion. George Dvorsky has starred on Broadway in such productions as The Scarlet Pimpernel and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and was featured in the Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's Passion. Jill Geddes starred as Cinderella in the national tour of Into the Woods directed by James Lapine, as Fantine in Les Misérables, Nora in A Doll's Life at the York Theatre, and in Forbidden Broadway. Kate Baldwin was most recently on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie and played Ellen in the Paper Mill production of Miss Saigon. She is currently appearing as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Daniel Reichard, a graduate of the University of Michigan, made his New York debut in Forbidden Broadway and recently played Keith Haring in a workshop of the new musical Radiant Baby, and plays the role again when previews for the world premiere staging begin Jan. 31 at The Public's Newman Theater.
For ticket information call (212) 864-5400, or visiting www.symphonyspace.org. Symphony Space is at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street.