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. 

We’re celebrating a Broadway leading man on this week’s Dress Circle (11/29 7:00 p.m.) as we shine a spotlight on Brian Stokes Mitchell.  In this first segment, we’ll sample some of his performances on Broadway in the hits “Ragtime” by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and the revival of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate.”  We’ll also look at two concert versions of the musicals “South Pacific” by Rodgers and Hammerstein from Carnegie Hall and the Encores City Center production of the Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green musical “Do Re Mi.” 

Not all animated musicals come from the Disney Studios, and we’re going to look at four of them on this week’s Dress Circle (11/22 7:00 p.m.).  From an immigrant mouse to a famous cat and mouse team to bucolic animals telling an iconic American story to a beloved pair of misfits, we’ll hear songs from “An American Tail,” “Tom and Jerry the Movie,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”  We’ve planned another happy hour that we hope will incite some fond memories.

We’re featuring a sister-act on this week’s Dress Circle (11/15 7:00 p.m.) as we look at those Callaways, Ann Hampton and Liz with selections from their musical and solo recording careers.  Suggested by their recent concert and CD entitled Sibling Revelry, we’ll hear duets including something they call “The Huge Medley” and a song from Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along.”  

The pandemic has curtailed many activities, but nothing can stop Ted from his quest for CDs.  We’ll be featuring some of his recent acquisitions on this week’s Dress Circle (11/8 7:00 p.m.) from solo recordings by Liz Callaway, Maria Friedman, and Barbara Cook to collections of the works of Martin and Blane and George Gershwin to songs from the soundtrack to the animated feature “The Road to Eldorado,” we’ll have yet another diverse hour of some excellent performances. 

Happy November!  We're kicking-off the month on this week's Dress Circle (11/1 7:00 p.m.) as we usually do with selections from some of the musicals that opened in New York this month, and we are, once again, covering over 100 years of theatre history.  Our earliest musical represented is "The Red Petticoat," a 1912 hit, and our most recent musical is the 2018 sensation "The Prom."  

We’re beginning a new series on this week’s Dress Circle (10/25 7:00 p.m.) dedicated to musicals with which many people might not be familiar.  This time, we’ll look at four works.   We’ll begin with a 1939 work by Ivor Novello entitled “The Dancing Years” by the most well-known and produced British composer before Andrew Lloyd-Webber came on the scene.  It tells the story of a penniless Jewish composer and his love for two women in a Vienna being threatened by the Nazis.  The second work is a forgotten television musical from 1957 by Jule Styne and Leo Robin based on the popular book “Ruggles of Red Gap.”  

Many people love to be told stories, and we’re going to have some of those stories in the form of songs on this week’s Dress Circle (10/18 7:00 p.m.).  Our tell me a story songs deal with everything from the happenings in a person’s life to an explanation for why her or she acts in a certain way.  The musicals include “Nymph Errant,” “Follies,” “Closer than Ever,” “Lady in the Dark,” “The Times,” “The Last Five Years,” and “Chess.”  Everyone has a story to tell, and our “story songs” on this week’s program do that in funny, moving, and enlightening ways.  

It’s ladies’ day on this week’s Dress Circle (10/11 7:00 p.m.) as we begin a new series looking at musicals with all-female casts.  The first program will take a look at some familiar and unfamiliar songs from “Stop in the Name of Love” featuring the Fabulous Singlettes, “Nunsense,” the original hit looking at the forced stage careers of the “Little Sisters of Hoboken," and “Cowgirls” where the classical group, the Coghill Trio, has to find its country-side.   

Although it may seem that we’ve been going through “trick or treat” for some time now, we are heading into October, the month of “pumpkin spiced everything,” so we’ll celebrate some of the shows of October on this week’s Dress Circle (10/4 7:00 p.m.).  We’re covering 112 years of theatre this month beginning in 1907 with Franz Lehar’s "The Merry Widow" to 2019 and the opening of the limited run of "The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical."  

When looking at the Gershwin brothers, the attention is most often focused on George, but on this week’s Dress Circle (9/27 7:00 p.m.), we’ll be sampling the lyrics of Ira in a program we’ve titled “Ira Beyond George.”    Ira became a recluse after George’s death, and he was brought out of his forced retirement by Kurt Weill and Moss Hart who convinced him to work on “Lady in the Dark,” a musical about psychoanalysis.  We’ll be sampling some of these songs as well as songs he wrote with other composers such as Vernon Duke, Burton Lane, Harry Warren, and Jerome Kern.  

We tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to musicals, thinking mainly of Broadway being the center of all action, but on this week’s Dress Circle (9/20 7:00 p.m.), we’ll remedy that with a look at the lyrics of a major force in the German-language musical scene, Michael Kunze.  His catalogue is truly impressive as he has translated many of the blockbuster musicals that have transferred to Germany, musicals such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Les Miserables,” “Wicked,” “Cats,” and “Sunset Boulevard.”  

Some performers become legends because of their larger-than-life personalities, and we’ll be celebrating one such artist on this week’s Dress Circle (9/13 7:00 p.m.) as we remember Elaine Stritch.   Of course, we’re including the song for which she’s probably best known, “The Ladies Who Lunch” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” but we’ll also be looking at her work in two of her forgotten musical outings: Noel Coward’s “Sail Away” (both the New York and London cast recordings) and the Leroy Anderson, Walter & Jean Kerr parody of the silent film era “Goldilocks.”  

Help us celebrate September, the month of morning glories and chickens, on this week’s Dress Circle (9/6 7:00 p.m.) as we look at a few of the shows covering over 100 years of theatre history that opened in New York this month.  From our earliest opening, Victor Herbert’s popular “The Red Mill” from 1906, we’ll sample songs from shows such as “Rose Marie,” “Fine and Dandy,” “Flying Colors,” “The Boy Friend,” “The Vagabond King,” and “The Student Gypsy or The Prince of Liederkranz” before our latest opening, 2012’s “Chaplin.”   

We’re heading back to school on this week’s Dress Circle (8/30 7:00 p.m.) but with a bit of a difference befitting the current environment.  We’ll have favorites such as “Back to School,” “An Apple for the Teacher,” “My Friend the Dictionary,” “I’m in Love with Miss Logan,” and “I’m Not Asleep, I’m Just Resting My Eyes.”   We’re also including a wonderful monologue by Joyce Grenfell (performed by Maureen Lipman) about the “joys” of being a nursery school teacher.   We’ll be augmenting with our school songs with some songs befitting the times – tune in to find out what we’ll be including.  

Walt Disney goes continental on this week’s Dress Circle (8/23 7:00 p.m.) as we look at several very familiar Disney vehicles translated for audiences in Germany, Spain, Italy, and France.  Our German selections come from the Stage and Screen versions of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.”  From Spain, we’ve planned songs from “Beauty and the Beast” and “Bambi.”  Our Italian contingency comes from one of our favorites, “Biancaneve e i sette nani” (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”) and the French from “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King,” “Toy Story,” and “Pinocchio.”   

It’s all about fun on this week’s Dress Circle (8/16 7:00 p.m.) as we revisit the parody series ‘Forbidden Broadway” through several of their many CDs.  This long-running off-Broadway revue lovingly pokes fun at all aspects of the musical from its stars, composers, and producers, to the musicals themselves.  The brainchild of Gerard Alessandrini will be explored over several months in three programs: This month’s overview will eventually be followed by one looking at specific performers and one lampooning some well-known shows.   

We’re celebrating Bing Crosby in Hollywood on this week’s Dress Circle (8/9 7:00 p.m.) with selections from some of his well-known and lesser known films.  On the lesser known side, we’ll visit Bing’s first major appearance with solo work in “The King of Jazz” as well as “The Big Broadcast,” “Mississippi,” “Robin and the Seven Hoods,” and “College Humor.”   The well-known side includes “Blue Skies,” “Going My Way,” “Holiday Inn,” a couple of “Road” films, “High Society,” and, of course, “White Christmas.”  

The Dress Circle: Songs from the Shows of July and August

Aug 2, 2020

Our mid-summer ritual continues on this week’s Dress Circle (8/2 7:00 p.m.) as we look at some of the shows that opened in New York in July and August.   This will be the last time we’ll have to combine the two months as we’ve finally gathered enough cast recordings and enough shows have opened over the hot summer months for us to give each month its rightful due.  Our last combined “Shows of” program will include songs from recent hits (now curtailed by the pandemic) like “Moulin Rouge!” and “Hamilton” as well as longtime favorites like “Miss Liberty,” “Me and My Girl,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “Hairspray,” and the revival of “1776.”  

This week’s Dress Circle (7/26 7:00 p.m.) is for the birds - literally.  We’ve got feathered friends of all shapes and sizes including some that are allegorical, a few metaphorical, and one or two mystical birds as well including a bluebird, an eagle, a meadowlark, a green finch, and a linnet.  We also have omen birds, wild birds, songbirds, little jazz birds, and early birdies.  Some of the shows we’ll be sampling include “The Spitfire Grill,” “Fosse,” “Anything Goes,” “Bloomer Girl,” “Notre Dame de Paris,” “Marie Christine,” and “Magdalena” to name a few.  

This week’s Dress Circle (7/19 8:00 p.m.) is beginning one hour later because of the length of the Sunday Opera and will feature a program remembering the talents of Dolores Gray through her stage, screen, and recording careers.   We’ve planned songs from her Broadway appearances in “Two on the Aisle” and “Destry Rides Again” as well as her West End appearances in “Annie Get Your Gun,” a Cole Porter Gala, and Sondheim’s “Follies.”  Samples of her film work will come from “Kismet,” where she played the vivacious Lalume and “It’s Always Fair Weather” and her appearance as the wonderfully unctuous Madeline Bradville who hosts the smarmy “human interest” TV show “Midnight with Madeline.”  

We’re once again celebrating musicals from the York Theatre Company catalogue on this week’s Dress Circle (7/12 7:00 p.m.) with four of their varied productions.  The company has been in existence since 1969, and since 1997 has mostly dedicated itself to musicals, many of them world or American premiers which is an extremely laudable (and daring) thing to do, but their intimate 161 seat theatre is consistently filled.  

Since this week’s Dress Circle (7/5 7:00 p.m.) is on the 4th of July weekend, we thought we’d delve into a bit of “calendar art” with our impressions of the holiday.  We sat down and thought about all of the things we felt were part of the celebrations, and then, we turned to the musicals to find songs to represent those ideas.  So, join us for songs from a variety of shows like “Do Re Mi,” “All American,” “Teddy and Alice,” “1776,” “Wish You Were Here,” “The Whitehouse Cantata” (“1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”), and “Miss Liberty.”  

Although the shows have disappeared, the songs of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart are still extremely popular, and we’re going to reconstruct as much of one of their shows as we can on this week’s Dress Circle (6/28 7:00 p.m.) with 1937’s “Babes in Arms.”  We’ll be turning to several cast recordings including studio cast recordings from 1951 and 1989 as well as the City Center Encores cast recording from 1999 and solo recordings by Barbara Cook and Judy Garland.  Since we’ve got so much music (including two ballets), we won’t have time to offer a synopsis during the program, so we’re including it here.  

We’re shining a spotlight on the incredible talents of Betty Buckley on this week’s Dress Circle (6/21 7:00 p.m.) with selections from shows beginning with her first Broadway appearance as Martha Jefferson in “1776” through to her appearance as Hesione in “The Triumph of Love.”  We’ll also be showcasing her appearances in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “Cats” on Broadway as well as her West End outings in “Promises, Promises” and “Sunset Boulevard.”   If you aren’t that familiar with her work, tune in; if you’re a fan like us, tune in anyway because you’re in for a wonderful treat.   

We’re remembering Donald O’Connor on this week’s Dress Circle (6/14 7:00 p.m.) as we look back on several of his film performances including “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Call Me Madam,” “I Love Melvin,” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”   We’ll include songs from his television musical performance as the god Hermes in “Olympus 7-0000,” and we’ve even included songs from his 1982 Broadway debut in “Bring Back Birdie.”  

“June is bustin’ out all over…” if one considers “bustin’” to include massive storms, but we’re still going to welcome June on this week’s Dress Circle (6/7 7:00 p.m.) with songs from some of the shows that opened this month from the box office winner “Grease” to some that didn’t fare too well financially such as “Spider-Man – Turn Off the Dark.”  

Musicals are truly risky propositions, and even if a musical is a hit on one side of the Atlantic, it doesn’t mean that it will prosper, let alone make the crossing, and we’re going to look at five British musicals that never made it to Broadway on this week’s Dress Circle (5/31 7:00 p.m.).   Some were hits, and some were misses, but they still deserve to be heard, and introducing new and/or unknown works to our audiences is part of our mission for the program.   

Beginning as Decoration Day and becoming the official federal holiday of Memorial Day in 1971, Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those who have passed serving their country.  On this week’s Dress Circle (5/24 7:00 p.m.), we’re offering a program of songs of remembering and memory in honor, not only of those who were lost in military service, but all of those who were lost trying to save lives during our current battle with covid-19.  

No, Julian Marsh is not putting on a show, but we’re asking that you put on your dance shoes anyway for this week’s Dress Circle (5/17 7:00 p.m.) for a program we’ve titled “Gotta Dance.”  Dancing is a great way to get some exercise, and many of us need more of that with the extended quarantine, so we’re turning to the stage musical for some of our favorites.  Join us as we do “The Varsity Drag,” “The Riviera,” “The Transylvania Mania,” “The Rich Kids Rag,” “The Heaven Hop,” “The Jig Hop,” and “A New Fangled Tango” among others.  

We decided to play some of our favorite overtures on this week’s Dress Circle (5/10 7:00 p.m.), but we didn’t stop with just overtures because some of our favorites weren’t really overtures as we have an entr’acte and two scene setting songs from musicals like “Of Thee I Sing,” “The Boy Friend,” “Blondel,” “See Saw,” “Follies,” and “Rags.”  Why some of these are our favorites varies greatly from a favorite theatrical experience to a marathon concert version of a show that lasted for nearly eight hours.  

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