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 love reminding everyone about some of the great performers who we feel are being forgotten, and on this week’s Dress Circle (5/19 7:00 p.m.), we’ll be doing just that as we shine a spotlight on leading man Howard Keel.  Many people only remember him as Clayton Farlow on “Dallas,” but for those of us who love musicals have loved him in films like “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Kismet,” “Calamity Jane,” “Kiss Me Kate,” and “Annie Get Your Gun” as well as his stage appearances in shows like “Saratoga” and the London cast of “Oklahoma!”   

Nothing really changes, and to prove that on this week’s Dress Circle (5/12 7:00 p.m.) we’re presenting a program we’ve titled, “Me!  Me!  Me! Ego Songs from the Musicals.”  

Welcome to May!  We don’t have flowers for you, but on this week’s Dress Circle (5/5 7:00 p.m.) we do have some of the May openings for you.  From the earliest shows, 1921’s “Shuffle Along” and a song by Eubie Blake and Nobel Sissle and 1928’s “Blackbirds of 1928” which featured songs by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, we’ll look at the long-running Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones favorite, “The Fantasticks,” the delightful masterpiece by Frank Loesser, “The Most Happy Fella,” the backstage love letter to Broadway by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, “Me and Juliet,” as well as two back-to-back hits by the team of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, “The Pajama Game” and “Damn Yankees.”  

It’s time for a bit of “calendar art” on this week’s Dress Circle (4/28 7:00 p.m.) as we look at songs about those pesky April showers.  With songs from musicals like “The Fantasticks,” “Bklyn,” “Bloomer Girl,” “Parade,” “Little Women,” and “St. Louis Woman,” the “Weather Report” says that “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” and even with our “Small Umbrella in the Rain,” we’ll be “Right as the Rain” “Come Rain or Come Shine.”  We’ll listen to the “Rhythm of the Falling Rain” as “It’s Raining on Prom Night,” but you can always say, “Gimme a Rain Check” as you “Look to the Rainbow.”  

Spring is the time for all things new, and we’re going to be sampling some recent acquisitions on this week’s Dress Circle (4/21 7:00 p.m.).  These “new to us” recordings include studio cast recordings of two George and Ira Gershwin musicals from 1925 “Tip-Toes” and “Tell Me More.”  We’ll also be sampling songs from two television musicals, “Ruggles of Red Gap” by Jule Styne and Leo Robin and “Feathertop” by Mary Rodgers and Martin Charnin featuring performances by Michael Redgrave, Peter Lawford, and Jane Powell.  

The Dress Circle this week (4/14 7:00 p.m.) will be heading off to Carnegie Hall for some concert performances, and there won’t be a single note of classical music.  In 1938, Benny Goodman took a chance and presented the first jazz concert at the hall, and it was successful.  The hall was filled, people danced and enjoyed the concert, and they didn’t tear the seats apart as was feared.  Since that time, there have been a variety of concerts, and we’ll be looking at a few of them.  

What do “Matilda,” “Hair,” “A Chorus Line,” “Big River,” “Waitress,” and “Rent” have in common?  They’re all on this week’s Dress Circle (4/7 7:00 p.m.) because they all opened this month.  Join Ted Otten and Michael Kownacky as they survey some of the shows of April that also include “The Producers,” “Miss Saigon,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” and “Annie” as well.   Don’t forget to visit our Webcasts for any past shows you might have missed and visit our highly suspect website at www.DCSRO.com.

A real musical menu is on offer for this week’s Dress Circle (3/31 7:00 p.m.).  No, there won’t be any singing produce, but there will be songs from “The Most Happy Fella,” “The Fantasticks,” “Kismet,” “Flower Drum Song,” “A Night in Venice,” and “She Loves Me.”  The menu includes spaghetti, pie, ice cream, Caesar salad, guacamole, wine, and a trip to the supermarket for more.  Tune in for a fun look at some incredible edibles. 

We’ll be enjoying more fruits from the age of the CD on this week’s Dress Circle (3/24 7:00 p.m.) as we sample recordings made by composers and lyricists of their own works.  Many of these recordings were demos or examples of works in progress that they wanted to share with absent partners; some are from public performances, and the results are wonderfully variable.  Some of those professionals include Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Harold Rome, Frank Loesser, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and Hoagy Carmichael just to name a few.  

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.”  

Pages