Theo Ubique artistic director Fred Anzevino and musical director Jeremy Ramey, who teamed up for the company’s Jeff-award Best Musical winner The Light in the Piazza as well as Aspects of Love and Master Class, are collaborating on a collection of songs by German born classical composer-turned-Broadway-songsmith Kurt Weill.
A Kurt Weill Cabaret will begin performances September 19 and will feature the seldom-performed “Mahagonny Songspiel” as well as popular songs from The Threepenny Opera, Happy End, One Touch of Venus, Lady in the Dark, Street Scene, Love Life and Lost in the Stars.
Ramey is providing exciting new arrangements as well as musical direction. Christie Kerr is also on the team as choreographer for the cabaret to be performed at the No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, from through October 19.
Weill had already become a successful composer in his native Germany when he fled the country in 1933 to avoid Nazi persecution stemming from both his writings and his Jewish heritage. While still in his twenties, Weill had earned respect in Germany as a composer of symphonic and choral music as well as the opera and musical theater pieces he wrote with poet/playwright Bertolt Brecht – The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, The Threepenny Opera and Happy End. He and his wife, the actress/singer Lotte Lenya, moved to New York City in 1935 and he became one of Broadway’s most prolific songwriters.
In New York, he continued to write classical music, but studied American idioms and adapted his style to American tastes, writing the scores of nine Broadway musicals between 1936 and 1949. These musicals contributed enduring classic songs like “Mack the Knife,” “Lost in the Stars,” and “Speak Low” along with many others. Some of the artists to record these songs included Guy Lombardo, Billie Holliday, Boz Scaggs, Frank Sinatra, Sting, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald. Weill collaborated on these musicals with some of America’s best playwrights, lyricists and poets of the early 20th Century, including Maxwell Anderson, Ira Gershwin, Moss Hart, Elmer Rice, Langston Hughes and Alan Jay Lerner.
Theo Ubique’s show will include selections from his years in Germany as well as his career on Broadway. In the first act, selections from The Threepenny Opera and Happy End will be performed along with the complete “Mahagonny Songspiel,” the song cycle that was later expanded by Weill and Brecht into the opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. After an intermission, the cast of five plus Ramey at the piano will return to perform songs form Weill’s years writing for Broadway and Hollywood.
The cast includes Christopher Logan and Jill Sesso of Theo’s A Cole Porter Songbook, Jordan Phelps (a 2014 Jeff Award nominee for Songs from an Unmade Bed), Kellie Cundiff of Fox Valley Repertory’s Sisters of Swing and Michael Harnichar (Man of La Mancha and Camelot at Light Opera Works).
Tickets range from $20 – $29. More information and tickets are available at www.theo-u.org or by phone at (800 595-4849.