New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Rodgers’ Romance

By Gary Wien

originally published: 06/20/2016

Rodgers’ Romance

East Lynne Theater Company in Cape May presents the New Jersey premiere of Rodgers’ Romance from June 15 to July 23.  It’s a musical revue of the work by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, and Oscar Hammerstein II.  It’s also not your standard musical revue - it’s a trivia competition as well, with the winner of the night receiving a gift certificate to a local business. The production is also designed the way the songs would have been performed before the invention of microphones.  Instead of amplification, the show utilizes the wonderful acoustics in The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, where the theatre company calls home.

The production is directed by David-Michael Kenney who first created the revue for Sellersville Theatre in 2004 and reprised it at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA in 2007.  Over the years he has stage managed and directed in Philadelphia, New York and California. He staged cabaret performances for Julie Wilson, Jane Norman (aka Pixanne), Rosie Carlino and Lois Sage. He has directed productions ranging from Pirates of Penzance to Always, Patsy Cline, and created Rodgers’ Romance. He wrote and produced numerous audience participation Murder Mystery Weekends performed in America, Canada, and the Caribbean. 

Rodgers’ Romance“Thirty-seven years ago, while I was in New York I saw the Broadway revival of The Most Happy Fella at the Majestic Theatre,” recalled Kenney.  “I believe that it was the last Broadway musical performed without the actors using wireless microphones.  For eight shows a week the cast would sing out and fill the theatre with their voices.  It left a lasting impression on me.  Those legitimate Broadway singers were truly vocal athletes. Those days are long gone.  Over the years, audiences have had their ears become accustomed to the tonal quality of amplified voices.

“My concept in creating Rodgers’ Romance was to have audiences once again experience singers performing songs as they were originally meant to be sung, without wireless microphones taped to their cheek bones or dangling from the center of their foreheads.  I wanted the singers not to have to surrender the control of the quality of their voices to the skill of the audio technician doing the mix.

“Also while in New York I worked on Randy Newman’s musical, Maybe I’m Doing It Wrong.  The cast consisted of two men and two women.  The show did not have a ‘book.’ It was simply song after song.  The emphasis was on his music.  Some songs were performed solo, some as duets and others by the ensemble.



The article continues after this ad

 


“Combining the ideas of unamplified voices, and songs simply sung without a story line or dialogue was the premise for my concept.  The choice of composer and songs by that composer came collectively from the original music director, Edward W. Gaittins, III, and the original cast:  Chris Faith, Eileen Ward, Fran Prisco and Rebecca Hayes."

East Lynne Theater’s production stars Aaron Bell, Maggie Johnson, Clare O’Malley, and Patrick Burr.  The Music Director is Charles Gilbert.  According to Kenney, arrangements for the songs change based on the singers and the Music Director.  In addition, the staging changes based on the performance space and what the actors create with the director.Rodgers’ Romance

One of the challenges faced in choosing the cast was to find singers with strong enough voices to handle singing without microphones.  “More often than not we heard ‘pop music’ stylists who obviously count on having their voices amplified through a professional theatre sound system,” said Kenney.  “We have had the good fortune of finding and casting singers who not only can ‘sing out’ but know how to ‘act the song’ as well.  This makes for a truly unique experience for both the actors and the audience.”

Another challenge was in acquiring the rights to the two dozen songs in the show. When Kenney first approached the people at Rodgers and Hammerstein (R&H) for permission to use the music, they wanted him to select one of the existing R&H musical revues.  He explained what he was doing and how there were 24 songs he wished to use for a new revue.  It took a bit of negotiation and assurances to show that he had the same respect for the music that they had until they finally came to terms.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Rodgers’ Romance is how it combines a musical revue with a trivia contest.

“I have always loved ‘breaking the fourth wall,’ having actors and audience interact,” explained Kenney. “From this show’s conception, I wanted to include the audience. A sing along was an obvious choice but that’s been done.  But asking the audience to actually guess the song title and show from whence it came would be a fun challenge.  Add to that a prize awarded to the randomly drawn correct entry, and we now have a contest! The contest has been done with every performance and has proven to be great fun.”   

Although known for their dramas and comedies, East Lynne has presented many musicals in the past as well.  Since 2000, they’ve presented shows like The O’Tooles Tonight!, Paul Robeson Through His Words and Music, Tales By Twain, Harry Reser and His Banjo, Over The Rainbow, and All The Things You Are.   Musicals and revues are often presented during the summer and have proven to be a good fit.

“Summer traditionally is a time of rest and reflection,” said Kenney. “It is more conducive to going out in the warm evenings.  People are more open to the human experience. The sound of the human voice singing, expressing a variety of emotions while telling a story, goes along nicely with that.”





For more by this author, click here






Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.


Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!










Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


MUSIC

THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


DANCE

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


KIDS

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


LECTURE

Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.