In an effort to celebrate the tremendous impact American composer, conductor, pianist, and educator Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) had on multiple generations of music lovers all over the world, The Kennedy Center will serve as a centerpiece for a two-year global centennial celebration of the iconic humanitarian. A riveting component of the celebration aforementioned was the Kennedy Center’s presentation of “Bernstein on Broadway.”
“Bernstein on Broadway” was a wonderful showcase for Bernstein’s tremendous creativity…
On Friday, September 22nd, 2017, the Kennedy Center invited a star-studded cast to perform select works from a few of Bernstein’s most beloved Broadway-featured works. Directed by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall alongside music director Rob Fisher, “Bernstein on Broadway” was the perfect platform to showcase Bernstein’s versatility as a musician, as well as his need to make sense of the world we (as human citizens) live in through his music.
Who better to shed light on the inner-workings of one of the 20th century’s greatest minds than his eldest daughter? Jamie Bernstein gave a wonderful speech regarding the thought-processes of her well-regarded father. As is common amongst all great artist-thinkers, Bernstein struggled with a profound inner turmoil that he often made sense of through song; his use of beautiful melodies (as Jamie recalled, her father felt that he could heal the wounds of the world if he could just compose a melody beautiful enough) and atonal textures quite literally [and figuratively] embodied that sense of disequilibrium. Regardless of whether or not Bernstein’s music did, indeed, heal the wounds of the world, it has certainly made a lasting impact.
“Bernstein on Broadway” contained selections from the following Broadway productions: “On the Town,” “Peter Pan,” “Wonderful Town,” “Candide,” “West Side Story,” “MASS,” and “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Cast members include Mikaela Bennet, Santino Fontana, Matthew Hydzik, Norm Lewis, Beth Malone, and Laura Osnes (amongst others). All of the vocal selections were superbly sung and the live music provided by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra was nothing short of spectacular. One (of the many) highlights of the evening included Beth Malone’s rendition of Conga (from “Wonderful Town”) that wouldn’t have come to life as seamlessly as it did without the aid of Kathleen Marshall’s hilariously effective use of choreography.
As it should be noted, a production of this capacity certainly could not run itself. Members of the creative team include associate music director John Bell, lighting designer Dan Covey, associate director/choreographer David Eggers, projection designer Greg Emetaz, production stage manager Peter Hanson, and sound designer Scott Lehrer.
It’s clear that Leonard Bernstein was a true musical genius. But he was also a deeply reflective individual who simply wanted to make a difference in the lives of others (I think we can all agree that he has certainly accomplished his goal). “Bernstein on Broadway” was a wonderful showcase for Bernstein’s tremendous creativity as well as a well-needed reminder that, through struggle and inner turmoil, we may all be able to find our greatest greatness.
Running Time: 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission.
Advisory: All ages welcomed.
“Bernstein on Broadway” was a one-night-only performance. However, please check out the Kennedy Center’s website for news regarding Leonard Bernstein’s centennial celebration. For tickets and more information, click here.