AMERICAN SONGBOOK AT NJPAC
WHEN; Wednesday, February 25th at 8 PM on NJTV; The five-part music series will also air weekly on THIRTEEN beginning Saturday, March 21 at 1 PM (check local listings), and will be scheduled on WLIW21 in the spring. Preview episodes here.
Award-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman bring their vast repertoire of songs from stage and screen. AMERICAN SONGBOOK AT NJPAC, taped in the Victoria Theater at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark in September, features performances from stars of stage, screen and concert halls. The series kicked off with Broadway’s Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana (Cinderella), jazz guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli and entertainer Nellie McKay, and singer Maureen McGovern performing in the first four episodes.
In this week’s segment, the Tony Award-winning songwriting team of Hairspray, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman take center stage. Joining them to perform their music are Marilyn Maye, Micailah Lockhart, Alex Stone and Annie Golden, who belts out a rousing rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore.” to kick off the program. The show is a joyous journey through their careers including songs that Marc Shaiman earned five Oscar nominations for: “A Wink and a Smile” (Toy Story), “Blame Canada” (South Park, Bigger, Longer and Uncut). Several memorable tunes from their NBC program “Smash” are also performed: “(They Just Keep) Moving the Line”, “Second Hand White Baby Grand” and “I Can’t Let Go.” However, Shaiman steals the program with solo performances of “Big, Blonde, & Beautiful” (Hairspray) and “Simply Second Nature” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
In-between songs, Shaiman and Wittman share career stories with host Ted Chapin, president and executive director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagen Company.
“This second season of American Songbook at NJPAC marks another production milestone for NJTV and affirms our commitment to arts programming,” said John Servidio, General Manager of NJTV. “We are delighted to once again partner with NJPAC to make homegrown arts content available to everyone across the state and beyond.”
“The American Songbook is the soundtrack of our lives,” said John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. “This new series is a remarkable mix of brilliant talent and extraordinary songs interwoven with fascinating commentary.”
American Songbook at NJPAC is presented, in part, through the generosity of the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, the David S. Steiner and Sylvia Steiner Charitable Trust, the Johnny Mercer Foundation and Investors Bank.
American Songbook at NJPAC is a production of New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Public Media NJ, Inc.. Mike Kostel is the series executive producer; David Stern is director and Annette Jolles is Associate Director.
The first season of the series, which aired on local public television stations last January, was recently awarded a New York State Broadcasters Association award for “Outstanding Locally Produced Television Program”. Season One episodes can be viewed online.
Episode Descriptions & Airdates
Episode One: Laura Osnes & Santino Fontana
Premieres Wednesday, 1/28 at 8pm on NJTV; Saturday, 3/21 at 1pm on THIRTEEN
Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana were both nominated for 2013 Tony Awards for their leading roles in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and in this episode, the Princess and Prince show why. This exciting young duo breathes new life into beloved Broadway standards like these R & H classics “People Will Say We’re In Love”, “If I Loved You” and from Cinderella: Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” and “Something Good.” They also give dazzle while performing other Broadway gems from the Great American Songbook including “Anything You Can Do” & “You’re Just in Love” by Irving Berlin and these Stephen Sondheim jewels: “Together, Wherever We Go”, “Your Eyes are Blue and “It Takes Two”.
Episode Two: John Pizzarelli
Premieres Wednesday, 2/4 at 8pm on NJTV; Saturday, 3/28 at 1pm on THIRTEEN
John Pizzarelli, the world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer, has established himself as one of the prime interpreters of the Great American Songbook and beyond, bringing to his work the cool jazz flavor of his brilliant guitar playing and singing. In this episode, and his six piece band salute the life and work of one our great lyricists and songwriters, Johnny Mercer. Pizzarelli, one of New Jersey’s favorite sons, creates fresh interpretations of a bevy of Mercer standards including “Moon River,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “Accentuate the Positive” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” Pizzarelli proves that he and Mercer are truly men for all seasons with his unique renditions “Autumn Roses” “Summer Wind” October Goes.”
Episode Three: Nellie McKay
Premieres Wednesday, 2/11 at 8pm on NJTV; Saturday, 4/4 at 1pm on THIRTEEN
Hailed by the New Yorker as “funny and touching, ceaselessly clever and scarily talented,” Nellie McKay bedazzles with interpretations of American classics like “Wonderful Guy”, “The Gentleman is a Dope” and “Knock on Wood” that are both captivating and fresh. McKay, who also plays the piano and banjo, truly shines during her original songs including “Bodega”, “One’s on the Way” and “Politan.” Unique doesn’t begin to describe this exhilarating hour with Nellie McKay.
Episode Four: Maureen McGovern
Premieres Wednesday, 2/18 at 8pm on NJTV; Saturday, 4/11 at 1pm on THIRTEEN
Maureen McGovern has been described as a “force of nature” and has been hailed as an official jazz legend. In this episode of American Songbook at NJPAC, Maureen McGovern takes the audience on a journey through some of the great music of the 60s and 70s. The Grammy-nominated artist first became famous for her recording of “The Morning After” used in the iconic disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure. Maureen’s flawless voice gives new life to the work of some of this country’s greatest songwriters including: “America”, “Old Friends” (Paul Simon), “The Times They are a Changing” (Bob Dylan), “Will You Still Love Me” Tomorrow” (Carole King) and Jimmy Webb’s classic Jimmy Webb compositions “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “MacArthur Park” and “The Moon is a Harsh Witness”. Maureen’s a cappella performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (Harber).
Episode Five: Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman
Premieres Wednesday, 2/25 at 8pm on NJTV; Saturday, 4/18 at 1pm on THIRTEEN
In this episode, the Tony Award-winning songwriting team of Hairspray, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman take center stage. Joining them to perform their music are Marilyn Maye, Micailah Lockhart, Alex Stone and Annie Golden, who belts out a rousing rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore.” to kick off the program. The show is a joyous journey through their careers including songs that Marc Shaiman earned five Oscar nominations for: “A Wink and a Smile” (Toy Story), “Blame Canada” (South Park, Bigger, Longer and Uncut). Several memorable tunes from their NBC program “Smash” are also performed: “(They Just Keep) Moving the Line”, “Second Hand White Baby Grand” and “I Can’t Let Go.” However, Shaiman steals the program with solo performances of “Big, Blonde, & Beautiful” (Hairspray) and “Simply Second Nature” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey — where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. As New Jersey’s Town Square, NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the State’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted over eight million visitors (including more than one million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. Visit www.njpac.org or call 888.GO.NJPAC for more information.