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Review: New Village Arts offers a nice Bernstein sampler at Flower Fields

Review: New Village Arts offers a nice Bernstein sampler at Flower Fields

Next year, a major Hollywood feature film about composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein will hit theaters. But for music lovers who want a refresher on the man and his music before Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro” debuts, a musical revue with songs from his Broadway year is now being played at Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

Produced by the New Village Arts Theater – which presents performances at the nightclub this summer while the home theater is being renovated – “Leonard Bernstein’s New York” is an hour-long revue featuring songs mainly from “West Side Story”, “On the Town” and “Fantastic City”. ” The cheerful, entertaining show features singer-dancers Johnisa Breault and Trevor Rex and a four-man jazz band.

Perceived and arranged by Rob Fisher, the show shows a “hometown girl” from New York and a “small town boy” from Ohio who have just arrived in the big city and sing solos and duets from the three musicals in the New York set Bernstein for. composed the scores, in collaboration with Stephen Sondheim and the author duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

For fans of Bernstein’s music, it’s interesting to hear how Bernstein’s compositional style evolved from the light comic Broadway style to “New York, New York” in 1944’s “On the Town” to the more symphonic realm “A Little Bit in Love” in “Wonderful Town” from 1953 to the progressive and musically complex “Something’s Coming” and “Mambo” in West Side Story from 1957.

It’s also smart to hear how Fisher turned quartets into duets, changed the song settings and reshaped the gender roles for some of the “Wonderful Town” songs, which were originally written for two women. A few of the songs feel dated and much of their place and time, such as “Come Up to My Place” and “I Can Cook, Too”, sung by the man-hungry seducer Hildy in “On the Town” and “100 Easy Ways” from “Wonderful Town”, about how a woman has to play dumb to catch a man, but the rest of the songs have held up well.

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The show is directed by Kristianne Kurner with music directed by Van Angelo and Jerome Robbins-inspired choreography by Jenna Ingrassia-Knox. Nina Gilbert conducts the stage band, which on Friday included the talented clarinetist Antwane Green.

Breault has a classically trained voice that shines in an excerpt from the opera song cycle “I Hate Music” and as Maria in the “West Side Story” duet “One Hand, One Heart”. She can also belt with gusto in songs like “100 Easy Ways” and is a strong ballet dancer.

Rex is a musical theater veteran with versatile dance skills and a sweet, boy-next-door look and sound. His performances of “Lonely Town” from “On the Town” and “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story” are vocally prominent. Among the best duets of Rex and Breault are “Some Other Time”, “Ohio” and “One Hand, One Heart”.

The Flower Fields stage is set in the manicured gardens behind the Armstrong Nursery. The seating is comfortable, the stage and audience seating areas are covered with awnings for sun protection, and there is a snack bar and bathroom on site. It is a comfortable place to enjoy a show with some little known music from the maestro.

“Leonard Bernsteins New York”

When: 19.30 Wednesday and Thursday and 13., 15., 20., 21., 22., 24., 27., 28. and 29. 14.00 Sunday and 24. and 31. July

Where: The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad

Tickets: $ 28- $ 40

Telephone: (760) 433-3245

Online: newvillagearts.org

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