Ted Otten

Program Host

Ted Otten is co-host of The Dress Circle

The Dress Circle airs Sundays at 7 pm. 

You can also hear Ted, along with his The Dress Circle co-host, on JazzOn2, every Wednesday evening from 7pm, eastern, for Strike Up the Band, a program celebrating the big bands and dance bands of jazz.

Ways to Connect

It’s a bit of the less familiar on this week’s Dress Circle (3/17 7:00 p.m.) as we look at some of the recordings released by producer Ben Bagley as part of his “Revisited” series.  You’ll know the composers and lyricists such as Noel Coward, Burton Lane, Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson, Frank Loesser, Richard Rodgers, and Lorenz Hart, but you may not know some of the songs from shows like “The Garrick Gaities,” “Calling All Stars,” “Huckleberry Finn,” “Senor Discretion Himself,” and “Good Morning Dearie.” 

We got a little carried away by overwhelming nostalgia on this week’s Dress Circle (3/10 7:00 p.m.).  While we were planning a previous program, we listened to a cut on a newly acquired CD, and that sent that nostalgia spinning.  The result is this program that looks at some of our musical memories.  Now, these all don’t come from musicals but are pieces that played a role in our childhoods and, often, into our adult lives.  

Lion or lamb, we’ll be celebrating the month of March on The Dress Circle this week (3/3 7:00 p.m.) with songs from some of the shows that opened in New York this month.  Our earliest show this time comes from 1954 and the Jerome Moross / John Latouche retelling of the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” in “The Golden Apple,” and our most recent show is the stage version of Disney’s “Frozen.” 

We’re celebrating black history month on this week’s Dress Circle (2/24 7:00 p.m.) by looking at shows featuring black casts like “Simply Heavenly,” a musical with a book and lyrics by Langston Hughes based on his novel “Simple Takes a Wife” and other “Simple” stories, “Purlie,” a musical based on Ossie Davis’ play “Purlie Victorious,” and “Raisin” based on Lorraine Hansberry’s “Raisin in the Sun.”  

We lost the dynamo known as Carol Channing on January 15, and on this week’s Dress Circle (2/17 7:00 p.m.), we’ll be paying tribute to her wonderful career.  Channing’s early career was as a model which led to stage work that took her to New York and then L.A..  In L.A., she was hired for a show that took her back to New York, and there she stayed.  We’ll look at some of that early work in shows like 1948’s “Lend an Ear,” 1949’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and 1961’s “Show Girl.”  

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we’re going to try to get you in the mood on this week’s Dress Circle (2/10 7:00 p.m.) with some love songs, but not just any love songs, we’re turning to the wonderful pairing of Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers for our sources.  

There are two givens about the beginning of February: the weather will be inconsistent, but The Dress Circle (2/3 7:00 p.m.) will certainly be consistent as we welcome in the month with some of the shows that opened this month.  We’ll look at 100 years of musicals beginning with Jerome Kern’s “Oh, Boy!”, with a book and lyrics by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse from 1917 through to 2017’s revival of “Sunset Boulevard” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, and Christopher Hampton.  

Join Ted Otten and Michael Kownacky as they celebrate the lives and careers of some of the wonderful performers we lost in 2018 on this week’s Dress Circle (1/27 7:00 p.m.).  This is one program we never enjoy planning, but it’s one that we feel compelled to do, and sadly, there were once again far too many to honor in our scant hour program.  Those we’ve chosen include Nanette Fabray, Vic Damone, Tab Hunter, Barbara Harris, and David Ogden Stiers.  

This week’s Dress Circle (1/20 7:00 p.m.) epitomizes that great television interjection, “But wait!  There’s more!” as we look at some “bonus tracks” from the age of the CD.  With the advent of a CD being able to hold 80 minutes of music, many companies gave us material from cast recordings, film scores, and demo recordings that was never available in the age of 78’s and LP’s.  

We’re shining a spotlight on Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce on this week’s Dress Circle (1/13 7:00 p.m.).  American audiences may know Pryce primarily from his appearance as The Engineer in “Miss Saigon” for which he won a Tony Award or his film appearances as Peron in “Evita,” Sam Lowry in “Brazil.” 

2019 is being welcomed in on The Dress Circle (1/6  7:00 p.m.) as we look at some of the shows that opened in New York in January.  We’ll sample songs from hits like “Beautiful The Carole King Musical,” Lynn Arhens and Stephen Flaherty’s “Ragtime,” Charlie Smalls’ “The Wiz,” and George and Ira Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band” as well as Jerry Herman’s “The Grand Tour,” Albert Hague and Arnold B. Horwitt’s “Plain and Fancy,” and a few other favorites.  If you’re detoxing from the holidays, Broadway musicals are the perfect fit. 

Entering the New Year is a daunting thought for many, but on this week’s Dress Circle (12/30 7:00 p.m.) we’re going to try to help with some words of encouragement from the musicals.  With that in mind, “Don’t Be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Be” because “You Never Know What You Can Do Until You Try.”  “Keep a Stiff Upper Lip” as you “Take the Moment” because “Every Day Comes Something Beautiful.”  “You’ve Got to Look Out for Yourself” and “Keep a Stiff Upper Lip” so that you can “Make Someone Happy.”  Oh, just “Come Out of the Dumpster” and “Get Happy”!

Oddly enough, it’s Christmas on The Dress Circle this week as well (12/23  7:00 p.m.).  Join Ted Otten and Michael Kownacky for an hour of nostalgic Christmas favorites including a 1953 radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol” featuring Laurence Olivier as the narrator and Scrooge with an excellent, if unnamed, supporting cast.  Charles Laughton is back by popular demand with his delightful reading of a selection from another Dickens work, “The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club” and the section titled “Mr. Pickwick’s Christmas” recounting a joyous evening of a long-gone era.  

The work of Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson will be showcased on this week’s Dress Circle (12/16 7:00 p.m.) as we look at their musical written with lyricist Tim Rice that mixes personal relationships and political intrigue played against the background of the international chess tournament.  “Chess” began as a concept album in 1984 and made it to the London stage two years later where it stayed until 1989.  It crossed the Atlantic to Broadway in 1987 but had a much shorter stay of only 68 performances.  

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.  

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.”  

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! 

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.  

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