By David Walters
If you know of the musical legacy of Hoagy Carmichael and appreciate his music, if you are a fan of The York Theatre Company and the work that they do, and if you like singing and dancing, you will enjoy this stroll down memory lane showcasing songs by Mr. Carmichael from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Hoagy was a consummate composer, often billed as one of the first singer/songwriters coming out of the Tin Pan Alley artists of the 1930s who, throughout his life until 1981, had several songs find a permanent home in the anthology of American popular music (Stardust, Lazy River, Heart and Soul, Georgia on My Mind).
The song and dance musical Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road, presented by The York Theatre Company (congratulations on your 50th year) and playing at Theatre at St. Jeans on the Upper Eastside, has been several years in the making. Developed with Hoagy Bix Carmichael (son of) along with the deep talents of Susan Schulman (Director), Michael Lichtefield (Choreographer), and Lawrence Yurman (Music Supervision & Arrangement), all four working together in the conceiving.
The show basically goes through four different periods of Hoagy’s life with different bar-type sets depicting the movement of time: the shutting down of the Stardust Roadhouse, Harlem Club, a WWII Canteen, Hollywood Supper Club, and back round again to the grand reopening of the Stardust Roadhouse. There is a very light storyline of several friends getting together to sing and dance their way through each time period, but it’s not important to the evening as it’s all about the music and the dancing. There is no dialogue as everything is expressed through Hoagy’s songs.
The cast of seven, sings and swings and taps their hearts out, everyone getting their solo to shine, and all backed by a multi-talented six-piece band that flows effortlessly from song to song. It all reminded me a little bit of a Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Conner, and Jean Kelly musical. And that’s a good thing.
Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road was conceived by Susan H. Schulman, Michael Lichtefeld & Lawrence Yurman, Developed with Hoagy Bix Carmichael, Music by Hoagy Carmichael, Directed by Susan H. Schulman, Choreography by Michael Lichtefeld, Music Supervision & Arrangements by Lawrence Yurman, Scenic Design James Morgan & Vincent Gunn. Costume Design Alex Allison, Lighting Design Jason Kantrowitz, Sound Design Julian Evans, Projection Design Brad Peterson, Production Stage Manager Melanie Morgan.
Performance schedule now through December 31: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, with 2:30 PM performances Saturday & Sunday.
SPECIAL HOLIDAY SCHEDULE DECEMBER 27 – 31: Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 PM, with 2:30 PM performances Wednesday, Friday & Saturday.
PLEASE NOTE: There are no performances on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, Christmas Eve, December 24, & Christmas Day, December 25.
Running time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.