Three more Great Broadway Musicals

Jun 15, 2018
Robert Preston as Harold Hill romances Marion the librarian (Shirley Jones) in the original screen adaptation of “The Music Man.”

Camden — Michael Paul Lund, who has lectured on music and the arts all over the East coast, returns to the downtown Camden Public Library for the second of a two-part series celebrating The Great Broadway Musicals Sunday, June 24, at 2 p.m.

Part 2 will focus on “The Music Man,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Porgy & Bess.” As always, recordings from the works discussed will be interspersed with Lund’s remarks, making for an enlightening and enjoyable 90-minute program (with an intermission).

For “The Music Man,” Lund will feature the original cast recording including Robert Preston, who won his first Tony Award in the title role.

“He literally lived and breathed this part and brought the dreams of Meredith Willson's music and lyrics to life,” said Lund.

Both the Broadway show and later movie version were hugely successful. Lund noted that the show’s “Till There Was You” is the only Broadway tune covered by the Beatles.

Although it was his greatest success, Irving Berlin was not the first choice to write “Annie Get Your Gun, Lund said. Jerome Kern had the assignment but died suddenly; Berlin, who was having a dry period, got the job and the rest is history.

“And yes, he wrote it for Ethel Merman, the big brassy bombastic voice whose singing could bring make the theater walls shake,” Lund said. “Berlin loved her!”

“Porgy & Bess” was George and Ira Gershwin's — “two loving brothers who worked together as one” — masterpiece, said Lund. Originally it was four hours long, but during rehearsals in Boston, they made many cuts and refinements to bring the running time to what one finds today in theaters. Although Paul Robeson was the first choice for Porgy, he declined the role and it was assigned to Todd Duncan; and Anne Brown was the first Bess.

“Hands down, however, the most famous Bess was Leontyne Price, whose voice soared in the role and was also a fine actress,” said Lund.

Early in her career, Price was married to bass baritone William Warfield. They triumphed together in the opera. Lund knew Warfield and was a fan of his, both in opera and as a recital artist. Aaron Copeland also wrote music especially for Warfield.

“I’ll share magnificent recordings of Price and Warfield in their respective roles and prime, as well as the original Sportin' Life, John Bubbles,” Lund said.

The library series will conclude Sunday, Sept. 23. Admission is free and open to the public.

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