What started as an idea for a tribute to the remarkable composers who found themselves in exile in California in the first half of the last century turned out to be a highly acclaimed and sold-out show in New York City. Celebrating a hugely successful evening, soprano Karyn Levitt and pianist Jed Distler recently brought On Hollywood and Weimar to the legendary NYC cabaret venue Feinstein's/54 Below. This comes on the heels of two equally successful and sold-out performances at Off-Broadway's York Theatre and Triad Theater, and now Royal Road Productions is ready to take the show on tour.
Soprano/Producer/Writer: Karyn Levitt
Music Director/Pianist: Jed Distler
Directed by: Michael Unger
“Introduced me to a repertoire and stories that were mostly new to me…. A rich theme…. Terrific and expressive singing. Beautiful work!”
-- James Gavin, award-winning music journalist and acclaimed author
Artwork by Joan Chiverton
On Hollywood and Weimar, created by and starring soprano Karyn Levitt with pianist Jed Distler, celebrates the glorious music of old Hollywood by European composers from the Golden Age of Film. Musical geniuses, like Kurt Weill, Erich Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Hanns Eisler – many of whom had escaped to Southern California from Nazi Europe — brought from their respective homelands the highest level of culture, which they poured into the American film industry: they blended the music of the old world and the new, thereby creating and inventing the uniquely hybrid sound of Hollywood films. American music benefited as we became heir to their legacy.
From dusty westerns and sweeping romances to the thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock, Karyn Levitt and Jed Distler perform eleven composers’ songs in a theatrically-directed, choreographed, and gorgeously lit musicological journey through some of Hollywood’s most iconic film scores. The songs range in style from Weimar cabaret and operetta to country-western, classical art song, and jazz… from “Falling in Love Again” to “On Green Dolphin Street,” from “San Francisco” to “Spellbound,” from “Rawhide” and “(High Noon) Do Not Forsake Me” to Kurt Weill’s “Song of Ruth,” and more! (Running time: 75 minutes.)
Karyn Levitt is a leading interpreter of this impressive repertoire. She curated all the songs and wrote the narration, which together make the program a perfect homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. As a distinguished artist/producer, Ms. Levitt is known for her historic collaboration with the foremost Brecht translator, Eric Bentley — whose centennial tribute (hosted by Michael Riedel and featuring Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, and other theater luminaries) she produced at The Town Hall and whose work she performs in concert and recorded on her CD, Eric Bentley's Brecht-Eisler Song Book.