March 5, 2010 (REVISED March 10, 2010) Arlen/Gershwin/Harburg Revue "Life Begins at 8:40" In Concert at the Library of Congress, First Performance in 75 Years; Recording Follows
Press Contact: Jennifer Gavin, (202) 707-1940
Public Contact: Elizabeth Auman, (301) 974-5820
The Music Division of the Library of Congress will present the 1934 Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin/Yip Harburg musical revue “Life Begins at 8:40” in concert, its first live performance in 75 years, in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium at 10 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 22, 2010, at 8 p.m. Ticketing information is below. Aaron Gandy will conduct the cast of 25 and the 24-piece orchestra.
The cast includes Broadway and recording veterans Kate Baldwin, Philip Chaffin, Christopher Fitzgerald, Montego Glover, Rebecca Luker, Brad Oscar, Faith Prince, Graham Rowat and Jessica Stone. David Glenn Armstrong will serve as stage director for the performance.
A week after the concert, the cast will reassemble in a New York studio to preserve the work on disc; the album will be recorded by the Grammy-nominated label PS Classics and produced by its co-founder, Tommy Krasker.
The concert and recording are made possible by the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trust for the benefit of the Library of Congress.
“Life Begins at 8:40” originally opened on August 27, 1934, at New York City's Winter Garden Theatre, under the auspices of the Shubert brothers, and ran for 237 performances. The original cast included Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger (preceding their appearance in “The Wizard of Oz”), Luella Gear and Frances Williams. The orchestrations were by Hans Spialek, Robert Russell Bennett and Don Walker.
As with most musicals of the period, many original performance materials from “Life Begins at 8:40” were scattered and lost following the Broadway run. Some of the lost items were unearthed in the spectacular “Secaucus warehouse find” of the 1980s; the Secaucus materials now are in the collections of the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Other elements of the show were housed in the Shubert Theater Archives in New York City. These were the basis for reconstructing the original piano-vocal score and orchestra parts. The restoration of “Life Begins at 8:40” was supervised by Larry Moore. Elizabeth Auman of the Library’s Music Division and Robert Kimball, artistic adviser to the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trusts, are overseeing the restoration, concert, and recording process.
The Library of Congress’s unparalleled collections in the area of the American musical include the collections of George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Berlin, Charles Strouse, Jonathan Larson, Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, and dozens of other composers, lyricists, performers, directors, producers and designers. The Library has previously collaborated with PS Classics on its Songwriter Series, with acclaimed CD releases of writers singing their own compositions, including "Hugh Sings Martin," "Charles Sings Strouse," "Jonathan Sings Larson" and "Howard Sings Ashman."
Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker and Philip Chaffin, and a four-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of “Assassins,” “Nine: The Musical,” “Grey Gardens” and “Company”), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through its award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by such luminaries as Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Jessica Molaskey and Christine Andreas; and recordings drawn from rare sound archives, including “Sondheim Sings.” Its most recent releases include solo albums by Liz Callaway, Rebecca Luker and Kate Baldwin and Broadway cast recordings of “Finian’s Rainbow” and “A Little Night Music.” Visit www.psclassics.com External.
The Library’s Coolidge Auditorium is located on the ground floor of its magnificent Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First St. S.E. in Washington, D.C. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public directly from the Music Division. For more information, please telephone or email Elizabeth Auman at (301) 974-5820 or [email protected] or Michele Glymph at (202) 707-8656 or [email protected].
The Library of Congress is home to the George and Ira Gershwin Collection, the world’s preeminent resource for the documentary legacy of the Gershwin brothers. It contains a wealth of materials that provide insight into their careers and personalities, including manuscripts and printed music, photographs, correspondence, business papers, scrapbooks and iconography. A permanent tribute to the Gershwins and their work, the Gershwin Room features George’s piano and desk, Ira’s typing table and typewriter, self- portraits of both brothers, and a selection of musical manuscripts from Gershwin stage and screen shows such as “Lady Be Good,” Funny Face,” “Girl Crazy” and “Of Thee I Sing.” Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.