The Dress Circle with Ted Otten and Michael Kownacky

Sundays at 7 pm

With music drawn from their personal and vast music collection, our co-hosts feature the best of Broadway, stage music from around the world, film scores, and the performing arts. 

After EVITA, Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted to work on something a bit less massive, and on this week’s Dress Circle (12/2 7:00 p.m.), we’ll look at that smaller show’s beginnings on TV and growth into a full evening for the stage.  The musical is “Tell Me on a Sunday” and tells the story of a British girl’s relationship adventures in the United States.  The television special starred Marti Webb, and she also appeared in the West End production when it became “Song and Dance” with the addition of Webber’s “Variations” which he wrote for his cellist brother Julian.  

Welcome to December!  As usual, we’ll be starting the month with a selection of songs from shows that opened in New York in December on this week’s Dress Circle (12/2 7:00 p.m.).   We’ll be sampling material from over 100 years of Broadway magic that begins with Victor Herbert’s 1906 operetta “Mlle. Modiste” and ends with 2017’s “SpongeBob SquarePants.”  Along the way, there’ll be songs from “Drood,” “City of Angles,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Show Boat,” and “The Music Man” as well as some other familiar works.  It’s all about Broadway openings this week on The Dress Circle! 

The composing team of Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones enjoyed a collaboration that lasted over 60 years but are still probably best known for only one of their shows, "The Fantasticks."  We thought we'd remedy that on this week’s Dress Circle and take a look at some of their work which may not be that familiar from shows such as the Julius Monk revue “Demi-Dozen.”  

Teaching has its side effects, and one of those is the need for “calendar art”!  The Dress Circle program this week (11/18 7:00 p.m.) is an off-shoot of that need as we present a Thanksgiving program – of sorts.  In the past, we’ve looked at family, food, and “thanks” as themes, but this time, we wanted to share with you some of the theatergoing events for which we’ve been thankful over the years.  

Our years teaching English have gotten the better of us on this week’s Dress Circle (11/11 7:00 p.m.), and we’ve turned to the world of literature for our theme as we look at Emily Bronte’s 1847 romantic tragedy “Wuthering Heights” through stage and screen adaptations.  Join us for selections from Alfred Newman’s score for the film as well as an aria from Bernard Hermann’s opera.  

… And suddenly, it’s November!  As usual, this week’s Dress Circle (11/4 7:00 p.m.) will celebrate the new month by looking at some of the shows that opened on Broadway in November, and we have quite a hefty list from which to choose.  Some of the shows we’ve chosen, which span over 114 years, include the forgotten Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on a novella by John Steinbeck entitled “Pipe Dream,” the big Tony Award winner from last year by David Yazbeck, “The Band’s Visit,” and the Elton John / Tim Rice massive stage hit, “The Lion King.”  

Audra McDonald will be featured again on this week’s Dress Circle (10/28 7:00 p.m.) as we take a second look at her career “So Far.”  This time, we’ll be including selections from her performance as Bess in the 2012 revival of “Porgy and Bess.”  We’ll also be sampling songs from several of her solo CDs by the likes of Rodgers and Hart, McHugh and Fields, Kern and Wodehouse, Arlen and Gershwin, and Bernstein and Sondheim to name a few.  It’s a celebration of one of Broadway’s most delightful leading ladies, so join us for a happy hour in the Dress Circle.

The Dress Circle didn’t make it back to school this year, but we’re going remedy that in a way on this week’s program (10/21 7:00 p.m.) as we do what most students do the first few weeks of school, “Let’s Revue.”  We’ve never done a show in our 35 plus years that looks solely at revues, and we thought it was about time.  We’ll begin with one of the granddaddies of all revues, the “Ziegfeld Follies of 1919” with John Steele singing Irving Berlin’s “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody,” a song that became synonymous with the “Follies.”  

We never like to do this type of a program, but we felt compelled to remember another wonderful performer whom we lost far too early on this week’s Dress Circle (10/14 7:00 p.m.) as we look back at the career of Marin Mazzie who passed away after a three-year battle with ovarian cancer on September 13 at the age of 57.  For us, we’ll always remember her iconic performance as Mother in “Ragtime” where she stopped the show with her incredibly moving performance of “Back to Before.”   We were also thrilled to see her spirited performance as Lilli Vanessi / Katharine in the 1999 revival of “Kiss Me Kate.”  These two shows alone are testament to her versatility and power.  

Celebrate October on this week’s Dress Circle (10/7 7:00 P.M.) as we showcase our regular  survey of shows that opened on Broadway this month.  The program will feature music from Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s forgotten gem “Allegro” as part of a varied menu that includes music from Sting’s musical memory “The Last Ship.”  

We lost Neil Simon on August 26th and we wanted to celebrate the life of this brillian playwright who brought joy to theatre audiences around the world for over five decades on this week’s Dress Circle (9/30  7:00).  Simon is probably best known for his plays and comedies like The Brighton Beach Trilogy and “The Odd Couple,” but he’s also a perfect subject for The Dress Circle since he penned several books for musicals.  

We’re happy to be celebrating the career of a very special performer on this week’s Dress Circle (9/23 7:00 p.m.) as we present a program in our “So Far” series dedicated to the work of Audra McDonald.  Join us for selections from some of her stage appearances in musicals like “Carousel,” “Ragtime,” “Marie Christine,” “110 in the Shade,” and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.”  Her work in television musicals includes “The Sound of Music” and “Annie,” and we’ll also look at some of the studio cast recordings and concert work in “Wonderful Town,” “Allegro,” and “Dreamgirls.”  

There have been many musical dynasties over the years, and we’ll be looking at one of them on this week’s Dress Circle (9/16 7:00 p.m.) when we look at the dynasty that began with Richard Rodgers, continued with his daughter Mary Rodgers, and is currently represented by Mary’s son, Adam Guettel.  From Richard, we’ll hear a medley of many of his familiar songs arranged by Peter Nero.  To represent Mary’s work, we’ll look at her musicals “Once Upon a Mattress” and “The Mad Show” along with a song she contributed to “Working.”  

This week’s Dress Circle (9/9 7:00 p.m.) is celebrating the stage and screen career of Andre Previn who came to the United States at the age of ten to escape Nazi persecution.  His remarkable seven-decade career began in 1948 and has encompassed all manner of musical genre from classical to jazz to Broadway and Hollywood.  

We’re welcoming September with this week’s Dress Circle (9/2  7:00 p.m.) and our monthly program featuring some of the shows that opened on Broadway this month which always offers us a wonderfully eclectic playlist.  The shows we’re featuring include well-known favorites like “Gypsy” and “Fiddler on the Roof” as well as forgotten gems like “The Chocolate Soldier,” “Irma La Douce,” and “Magdalena.”  

We’re continuing with our celebration of Leonard Bernstein on this week’s Dress Circle (8/26  7:00 p.m.) by looking at two of his scores.  One is the “Mass” that he wrote with Stephen Schwartz that opened The Kennedy Center in Washington in 1971 with selections from the original 1971recording as well as the 2004 recording.  Confusing to many, this wonderful celebration is less an actual mass than it is a lesson about finding sanity out of chaos which is so desperately needed today.  

The first part of our centennial celebration of the life and career of Leonard Bernstein is this week’s Dress Circle (8/19 7:00 p.m.).  Although he is probably best known for his work in the classical music realm, we’ll be focusing on his works for the stage, and this first program will look at a variety of his musicals and will feature performances from “On the Town” (1944), “Peter Pan" (1950), “Wonderful Town” (1953), “Candide” (1956), and “West Side Story” (1957).  For this program, we’ll be featuring original cast, revival cast, and studio cast recordings.  

Put on your dancing shoes!  No, Julian Marsh is not doing a show; they’re doin’ choreography on this week’s Dress Circle (8/12 7:00 p.m.)  There was a time when just about every show included a ballet or extended dance scenes, and we’ll be sampling some of them this week.  Some of those dances include the “Sadie Hawkins’ Day Ballet” from “Li’l Abner,” the “Halloween Interlude” Dance from “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” the “Twins Ballet” from “The Boys from Syracuse,” and from “Make a Wish,” “The Sale Ballet.”  

You may not know the composer’s name on this week’s Dress Circle (8/5 7:00 p.m.), but you’re sure to know many of the songs penned by the wonderful James “Jimmy” McHugh.  With lyricists like Dorothy Fields, Harold Adamson, and Ted Koehler, McHugh’s prolific career spanned three decades with songs for the stage and screen.  Join us as we celebrate the career of this wonderful composer with songs that appeared in the films “Higher and Higher” and “Bring on the Girls” as well as the revue of his music entitled “Lucky in the Rain.”  

We’ll be looking at July and August together for our show openings on this week’s Dress Circle (7/29 7:00 p.m.) since Broadway openings slow during the summer months with the exception of this year where there will be no fewer than four new musicals opening.  However, since they haven’t opened yet, we don’t have any music from them and won’t be mentioning them.  The “summer shows” we will be mentioning include the 1997 revival of “1776,” the riotous revue “Two on the Aisle,” one of Langston Hughes’ Broadway musicals “Simply Heavenly,” and the high-energy “Hairspray.”  

The Dress Circle will shine a spotlight on Glenn Close this week (7/22 7:00 p.m.) in performances which might be unfamiliar to many, her outings in Broadway musicals with selections from the Richard Rodgers and Martin Charnin musical about Henry VIII entitled “Rex” where she played Princess Mary, as Charity Barnum in Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart’s “Barnum,” and her much lauded performance as Norma Desmund in “Sunset Boulevard” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, and Christopher Hampton.  

We looked at music of George Gershwin last week on The Dress Circle, and this week (7/15 7:00 p.m.) we’ll concentrate on lyrics by his brother Ira but with composers other than George.  Those composers supplying the music for Ira include Kurt Weill, who got Ira to begin writing again after George’s death, Harold Arlen, Harry Warren, and Burton Lane.  

The Dress Circle is celebrating the life of George Gershwin this week (7/8  7:00 p.m.) as we approach the 81st anniversary of his untimely death on July 11, 1937 with a program of his lesser-known works with his brother Ira as well as with other lyricists.  Included will be songs from shows like 1925’s “Tip-Toes,” “Sweet Little Devil” from 1924, and “Primrose” written expressly for the London stage in 1924.  Although they were all well received, they have been forgotten.  

It's all about cinema nostalgia on this week’s Dress Circle (7/1  7:00 p.m.) as we sample some popular artists singing theme songs from some memorable films.  The vocalists include Doris Day, Cliff Edwards, Johnny Mathis, Peggy Lee, Bob Hope, and Mario Lanza, and some of film themes are “Dear Heart,” “Wild Is the Wind,” “Golden Earrings,” “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,” “Because You’re Mine,” and “Three Coins in the Fountain” just to name a few.  Don’t forget to look for us on Facebook as well as our own website at www.DCSRO.com for more information. 

We’re a bit late for Mother’s and Father’s Days, but we’re early for Grandparent’s Day, and it’s really never too late to celebrate “parents” and caregivers in any form.  We’ll do that on The Dress Circle this week (6/24 7:00 p.m.) as we turn to the musicals to take a look at some stage parents from shows like “Honk!”, “Falsettoland,” “Aida,” “Seussical,” “Earnest in Love,” and “Ragtime” with special appearances by Beniamino Gigli and Miss Bette Davis.  Join us to see if it’s true that “Parents Are People too.” 

The delightful stage output of Marvin Hamlisch is the subject of this week’s Dress Circle (6/17  7:00 p.m.)  as we look at songs from familiar shows like “A Chorus Line” (with songs from the Italian and Japanese original cast recordings), “They’re Playing Our Song” and “The Good-bye Girl” (both Broadway and West End casts), and “The Sweet Smell of Success.”  

This week’s Dress Circle (6/10) will begin at 8:00 because of the length of the opera.  Join us as we take a trip to the West End as we look at five “Recent and Current London Musicals.”   We’ll be sampling songs from “Calendar Girls,” a moving musical based on the charming film of the same name and starring some British favorites such as Claire Moore and Joanna Riding.  A revival of “42nd Street” is currently appearing at Drury Lane, and the original cast included Sheena Easton as Dorothy Brock.  

June may not be bustin’ out all over, but it is certainly wet, and as we enter the month of June, this week’s Dress Circle (6/3 7:00 p.m.) will take a look at some of the shows that have opened this month.  The “summer” months are notoriously lean for Broadway openings, and June is the month of the Tony Awards, so shows generally don’t open then since they would have to be remembered for an entire year before voting occurs.  In any case, we will hear songs from musicals including “Godspell,” “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road,” “Seventeen,” the 1993 revival of “Chicago,”

An “all-star” version of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” to welcome the upcoming Princeton Festival production will air on this week’s Dress Circle (5/27 7:00 p.m.).   We’ll be playing a large percentage of this delightful score using the original Broadway cast, original London cast, the 1996 Broadway revival, and the film if time permits.  

Among the many definitions of a “moment,” the first is “a minute portion or point of time: instant,” and on this week’s Dress Circle (5/20 7:00 p.m.), we’ll be looking at a series of “Moment Moments.”  We were surprised by how important moments are in musicals, and we had many shows from which to choose songs.

Pages