Join Broadway stars Mikaela Bennett (The Golden Apple), Alysha Umphress (On the Town), Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), and Ben Davis (Violet) in celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday! Tony Award winner Ted Sperling is Music Director and host for this evening of songs from Bernstein’s musicals, including West Side Story, Candide, Wonderful Town, Peter Pan, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and On the Town.
“Music makes life more enjoyable, more exalted — more bearable.” — Leonard Bernstein
Ted Sperling, Music Director and Host
Aaron Heick, reeds
Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf, cello
Michael Thurber, bass
Kory Gossman, percussion
Join us at the Sense Circle for a complimentary Pride & Prosecco pre-concert reception for concert goers at 6:00pm.
Make it a weekend!
We’ve teamed up with Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival to host a full weekend of arts experiences and LGBTQ+ celebrations. Purchase your LGBTQ+ Arts Weekend Pass below for only $90 for an evening of Bernstein’s Broadway followed by Sunday’s 7:30pm performance of The Heart of Robin Hood at HVSF.
LGBTQ+ Arts Weekend Pass
This ticket package includes:
 Rear Center ticket to “Bernstein’s Broadway” on 7/14 at 8:00pm
This pass may change in price, depending on availability from either organization. You will be contacted by each venue’s Box Office to confirm seat assignments.
A recent graduate of The Juilliard School, soprano Mikaela Bennett made her debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in a concert version of Berstein’s West Side Story, and was featured in Bernstein on Broadway at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, directed by Katheleen Marshall and conducted by Rob Fisher. She made her professional stage debut last spring, starring as Penelope in John Latouche and Jerome Moross’ The Golden Apple for Encores! at City Center.
Ms. Bennett also performed with the San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, in the World Premiere of his Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. She has appeared at New York City cabaret venues Feinstein’s/54 Below and Joe’s Pub, working with Emmy Award-winning composer Lance Horne. She joined the New York Festival of Song for its Harry, Hoagy, and Harold program, curated and accompanied by Steven Blier and worked closely with composer William Bolcom for Opera America’s Composers in Concert: William Bolcom series. Mikaela Bennett is a native of Ottawa, Canada.
Alysha Umphress was seen on Broadway as part of the original Broadway cast of American Idiot and most recently as Hildy in the revival production of On The Town. Umphress was also part of the Broadway productions On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Bring it On!. Umphress’ Off-Broadway credits include Make Me a Song (The Music of William Finn).
Other credits include Dallas Theatre Center’s production of Hood (Meg), Paper Mill Playhouse’s Pump Boys And Dinettes (Rhetta Cupp), and Signature Theatre’s Beaches (Cee Cee Bloom) whichearned her a Helen Hayes nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Umphress has also made appearences on television in The Climb (Misty), Law and Order SVU, Nurse Jackie, and Royal Pains.
Her solo album, I’ve Been Played; Alysha Umphress swings Jeff Blumenkrantz is currently available on iTunes and Amazon and she can also be heard on the recording of Wonderful Town singing the role of Ruth with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Most recently seen as Cpt. Von Trapp in Jack O’Brien’s tour of The Sound of Music. Broadway: Violet (Preacher), A Little Night Music (Mr. Lindquist, u/s Carl Magnus, Fredrik), Les Miserables (Javert & Enjolras), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon), Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme (Marcello- *2003 Tony Honor) UK: BBC Proms Kiss Me Kate at Royal Albert Hall (Fred/Petruchio) and Sondheim at 85 with RTÉ Orchestra. Other credits: South Pacific (Emile De Becque) and Oklahoma (Curly) at The MUNY, Anna Nicole the Opera at BAM (Billy Smith), R&H with the Boston Pops at Tanglewood, Lincoln Center American Songbook Series, Kurt Weill’s Knickerbocker Holiday (Brom Broeck) opposite Kelli O’Hara and Victor Garber, Westchester Philharmonic w/Kelli O’Hara, Show Boat (Gaylord Ravenal) at Goodspeed Opera House, LA Philharmonic. Film/TV: Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute directed by Kenneth Branagh and the upcoming film version of Samuel Barber’s, A Hand of Bridge.
An American stage and screen actor, Bryce is most widely known for originating the role of Monty Navarro in the Tony Award-winning production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, for which he was nominated for a Tony, Grammy, and Drama Desk Award. Most recently, he appeared in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles as Peter Patrone, for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. His other Broadway credits include Carl Bruner in Ghost the Musical and Henry Clay in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Bryce’s television appearances include The Good Wife (CBS), Person of Interest (CBS), and the PBS miniseries God in America. His upcoming on-screen appearances include Baz Lurman’s Netflix series The Get Down, Robert DeNiro’s The Comedian and the second season of PBS’ Civil War Drama Series Mercy Street.
A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Bryce was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Foundation Early Career Fellowship in 2012. As a writer, Bryce has published articles on acting, performing, and education in American Theater Magazine, Yale Alumni Magazine, and others. In 2012 Bryce helped found Zara Aina, an NGO that uses the power of theatrical storytelling to empower at-risk youth. In May 2013, Bryce led a team of American artists on Zara Aina’s pilot program to Madagascar. Bryce is also a frequent collaborator with Outside the Wire, a social impact theater company that serves many communities but particularly focuses on military audiences. His most notable international tours include Guantanamo Bay, Japan, Kuwait, and Qatar. Bryce holds a BA from Boston College and an MA from the Yale School of Drama.
Ted Sperling has maintained an active and successful career in the theater and concert worlds for nearly thirty-five years. A multi-faceted artist, he is a director, music director, conductor, orchestrator, singer, pianist, violinist, and violist. He is the Artistic Director of MasterVoices (formerly the Collegiate Chorale,) and is currently conducting My Fair Lady on Broadway.
Mr. Sperling won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Other Broadway credits as music director/conductor/pianist include the rapturously received revivals of Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, and South Pacific; Guys and Dolls, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Angels in America, My Favorite Year, Falsettos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Les Misérables, Roza, and Sunday in the Park with George. Mr. Sperling was also an original cast member of the Broadway musical Titanic, playing bandleader Wallace Hartley. Off-Broadway credits as music director include A Man of No Importance, Wise Guys, A New Brain, Saturn Returns, Floyd Collins, Falsettoland, and Romance in Hard Times.
Mr. Sperling’s work as a stage director includes the world premieres of five musicals: Red Eye of Love, The Other Josh Cohen, See What I Wanna See, Charlotte: Life? Or Theater? and Striking 12, as well as a revival of Lady in the Dark. He has conducted the scores for the films The Manchurian Candidate and Everything Is Illuminated, and directed the short film, Love Mom, starring Tonya Pinkins, which has been shown in five international festivals. Recent gala concerts that Mr. Sperling has directed include: Show Boat, starring Vanessa Williams, Julian Ovenden, Lauren Worsham, Norm Lewis, and the NY Philharmonic: One Singular Sensation, featuring Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Zachary Quinto, and the original cast of A Chorus Line; The Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Jonathan Groff, Anika Noni Rose, Martin Short, and Eric Idle; Cabaret with Anne Hathaway, Harvey Feierstein, Linda Lavin, Raul Esparza, and Eddie Redmayne; Song of Norway with Judy Kaye, Santino Fontana, Jason Danieley, and Alexandra Silber; and The Mikado with Victoria Clark, Kelli O’Hara, Jonathan Freeman, Steve Rosen, Lauren Worsham, Jason Danieley, and Christopher Fitzgerald.
Mr. Sperling has an active concert career, working with many major symphony orchestras, and singers Audra McDonald, Victoria Clark, Patti LuPone, Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn, Idina Menzel, Paulo Szot, and Deborah Voigt. He has conducted multiple concerts with the New York Philharmonic, for Live at Lincoln Center, the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center, and the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y. Recent performances at Carnegie Hall include the NY premieres of Not the Messiah starring Eric Idle; Kurt Weill’s The Road of Promise starring Anthony Dean Griffey; and Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera, The Grapes of Wrath, starring Nathan Gunn, Elizabeth Futral, Christine Ebersole, and Victoria Clark. Mr. Sperling conducted Audra McDonald in a double bill of La Voix Humaine and the world premiere of Send: Who Are You? I Love You? at the Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Sperling’s television appearances include many Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts, as well as a Saturday Night Live Christmas show with Michael Bublé.
Mr. Sperling received the 2006 Ted Shen Family Foundation Award for leadership in the musical theater, is a consultant to the Public Theater, and is Creative Director of the 24-Hour Musicals.
About the Music
After nearly thirty-five years of conducting Broadway shows, I’m amazed to realize that I’ve yet to conduct a Bernstein score from top to bottom. Actually that’s not completely right; I did put together a chamber version of Candide in college, performed in a squash court! But tonight marks the first time I’ll be performing a complete Bernstein program, and I’m delighted to be doing it with these amazing vocalists and instrumentalists, and in this gorgeous setting. I’m sure you’ll already know and love many of the selections, but I’m hoping we’ll introduce you to some new favorites, and give you some background on their creation. Leonard Bernstein was famously able to live in the Broadway and classical music worlds with equal ease and facility, and part of his genius is how he was able to bring the best of both together in his work. In fact, some of his compositions actually traveled back and forth, from project to project, until they found their rightful place. What better place to celebrate this milestone anniversary of his birth than Caramoor, where so many genres mingle so effortlessly? I hope you enjoy the program.
Program At a Glance
Caramoor celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) with a night dedicated to his Broadway works with music from On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and perhaps his most popular and enduring musical, West Side Story.
Although we are featuring the legendary maestro’s Broadway work tonight, as a composer, he was equally versatile in classical and pop music, ballet, opera, and was gifted enough as a pianist to have made a separate career as a virtuoso. At age 40, he became the youngest, and the first, American-born and educated Music Director of the New York Philharmonic; revitalizing the struggling orchestra and promoting living composers and American classical music. He was the first American-born conductor to achieve worldwide acclaim, and was the first to appear at La Scala in Milan, conducting Maria Callas in Cerubini’s Medea.
“Bernstein’s versatility was breathtaking. He probably was the most sought-after conductor in the world during his lifetime … and probably the most listened to and watched lecturer on music in the history of the world,” said Dr. Richard Kogan, concert pianist, psychiatrist, and lecturer, who discussed Bernstein at his “The Mind and Music” lecture series at Caramoor in May.
Bernstein, a Harvard graduate, believed in the importance of music education for all ages. He brought classical music into American homes with a series of televised lectures beginning in 1954 with appearances on the CBS arts program Omnibus and his series of Young People’s Concerts. Highly regarded by both critics and educators, it inspired generations of future musicians from 1958–1972.
As a humanitarian, Bernstein found many ways to promote his deep concern for human rights and world peace. He was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, an anti-war activist in the 1970’s, and an AIDS research advocate in the 1980s. His 1989 Christmas Day broadcast of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall was watched by millions.
There was virtually nothing that Leonard Bernstein could not do well. Critics said he should abandon theater and focus on conducting and promoting American classical music throughout the world, while others deemed him the savior of the American musical and urged him to continue composing for the stage. Bernstein wanted to do it all. His theater works are our focus tonight.
On the Town (1944)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Based on Jerome Robbins’ idea for his 1944 ballet Fancy Free, On the Town tells the story of three American sailors during World War II on 24-hour shore leave in New York City and their search for love. The musical introduced many popular songs including “New York, New York,” “Lonely Town,” and “I Can Cook, Too” (for which Bernstein also wrote the lyrics).
On the Town premiered on Broadway at the Adelphi Theater and ran for 462 performances. The original production of On the Town was notable for its racially diverse cast and intentional avoidance of racial stereotypes. It has been revived on Broadway several times, most recently at the Lyric Theatre in 2014, and was made into a film in 1949 starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, although the film version replaced all but three of the original Bernstein songs.
Wonderful Town (1953)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
With a score written in just four weeks, Wonderful Town tells the light-hearted story of two sisters from Ohio who come to New York in the mid-1930s to seek fame and fortune. Wonderful Town premiered on Broadway in 1953 starring Rosalind Russell and Edie Adams and won five Tony Awards. It ran for 559 performances and closed in 1954. The musical was revived on Broadway in 2003 and closed after 497 performances.
Though there have been only two major Broadway productions of Wonderful Town, cast recordings remain popular and inlcude such songs as, “The Story of My Life,” “100 Ways to Lose a Man,” “I Could Pass That Football,” and “A Little Bit in Love.”
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book based on the 1759 novella by Voltaire
Libretto by Lillian Hellman in 1956, Hugh Wheeler since 1974
Candide, originally conceived by renowned playwright Lillian Hellman as a statement against anti-Communist hysteria, was originally supposed to be a play with incidental music. It was Bernstein who convinced Hellman to do it as a “comic opera” for which she would write the libretto along with the involvement of several other writers.
The original production opened on Broadway in 1956 and was considered a box-office disaster, running for only 73 performances. Critics thought Hellman’s libretto was too sharp and serious for contemporary audiences. The original cast album sold well, however, and Bernstein’s score was praised by critics despite its failure as a Broadway musical.
In 1959, a production with a revised book opened on London’s West End, and in 1971, another version with a complete revision of Hellman’s book and a reshuffling of musical numbers opened in Los Angeles, CA. Though also unsuccessful, it renewed interest in Bernstein’s score. Hal Prince and Hugh Wheeler created a new, smaller scale version of Candide which prompted Hellman to angrily withdraw her original libretto.
Known as the “Chelsea” version, this renewed Candide opened in 1973 in Brooklyn, NY with new lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a livelier theater arrangement that included wooden benches for seats and bags of peanuts for the audience, and a more youthful cast. This version was a success, moving to Broadway in 1974 and running for two years and 740 performances.
In 1982, New York City Opera, under the general management of Beverly Sills, presented Candide in a full-length, two-act production, with much of the original music reinstated.
West Side Story (1957)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book by Arthur Laurents, based on Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Jerome Robbins had first envisioned this retelling of Romeo and Juliet with the main characters as Jewish girl and an Italian-Catholic boy. Later, in 1955, when Bernstein and Laurents were working in Hollywood, the news was filled with reports of street riots by Chicano-Americans in Los Angeles. The headlines intrigued Bernstein and his collaborators and their focus shifted to the blue-collar neighborhoods of New York City’s Upper West Side.
West Side Story premiered on Broadway in 1957 and ran for 732 performances with six Tony Award nominations. The show had an even longer West End run and in 1961 was made into an Academy Award-winning film starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, and Rita Moreno and was successfully revived on Broadway in 1980 and 2009. In 1984, Bernstein re-recorded the musical, conducting his music for the first time, and won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 1985. “Something’s Coming,” “Maria,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Tonight,” and “Somewhere” remain just as relevant today as they were 60 years ago.
The Skin of Our Teeth (Unproduced)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book by Thornton Wilder
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
During a conducting hiatus in 1965, Bernstein intended to collaborate once again with Robbins, Comden, and Green for a musical based on Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, a play with biblical and classical themes. Devasted after the assassination of President Kennedy and the murder of his close friend, composer Marc Blitzstein, Bernstein dissolved the collaboration and described himself as a “composer without a project.”
“Spring Will Come Again” survived the wreckage of the abandoned musical and was recycled for Bernstein’s 1965 choral work Chichester Psalms. It is now favorite of recital singers and has been recorded by Linda Eder.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1976)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Bernstein’s last original score for Broadway, this ill-fated musical opened in 1976 and is considered to be a monumental failure, closing after only seven performances. Focusing primarily on race relations, the show retold the history of the first 100 years of White House residents; presidents and their families, and successive generations of a family of servants who were slaves in the early years. Although Bernstein’s score was praised, critics were merciless, and Bernstein refused to allow a cast recording of the musical.
At the inauguration of Jimmy Carter in 1977, “Take Care of This House” was sung by Frederica von Stade under Bernstein’s direction. 1n 1997, the Lerner and Bernstein estates authorized a choral version, A White House Cantata. “Take Care of This House” has been recorded by several artists including Kelli O’Hara and Sarah Brightman.