Whatever happened to Rodgers and Hammerstein? Young theater fans these days may know all the songs from Les Mis and Rent and Avenue Q, but will likely draw a complete blank if you ask them to hum a few bars of Getting to Know You or Oh, What a Beautiful Morning: songs that once were universally known standards.
Readers over a certain age will recall a time when the names Rodgers and Hammerstein were practically synonymous with “Broadway musical.” But then darker, trendier or more provocative works like Hair, Cabaret and A Chorus Line came along, and R&H’s works of the ’40s and ’50s suddenly began to seem…well, kind of whitebread and corny by comparison.
That harsh reassessment wasn’t entirely fair; there was social commentary deftly hidden amidst the wholesome sweetness of R&H’s lush productions. How quickly audiences forgot, for example, that South Pacific contains a song that skewers racism in the lullaby “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” These shows are chockfull of really well-written songs that deserve to be rediscovered.
So maybe you ought to bring along your favorite teenager who has been bitten by the acting bug to hear the Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra (NDSO) on Saturday evening, February 7 at 8 p.m., when the nine-year-old classical ensemble will perform An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics. While NDSO has in the past played mostly in high schools, this time it’ll be appearing in a much fancier venue: the Culinary Institute of America’s new 800-seat Marriott Pavilion auditorium, which recently also became the new home of Poughkeepsie’s Half Moon Theatre.
The concert, conducted by Kathleen Beckmann and timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization now known as Arts Mid-Hudson, will include selections from South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I, Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music. Guest vocalists Jeremy Moore, Marie Masters, Anthony Webb and Emily Geller will join the orchestra.
Of course, going to see a show at the CIA brings with it a perq: the opportunity to pair a fabulous meal prepared by the top chefs of tomorrow with your evening’s musical entertainment. The CIA will open its Caterina de’ Medici restaurant for a special $39 pre-performance dining experience from 5 to 6:15 p.m., offering assorted salads, pastas and dessert served family-style. To book your table, call (845) 905-4533 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for the concert, which cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students, can be purchased by calling (845) 635-0877 or visiting www.ndsorchestra.org. For a peek at the CIA’s stunning new performance space (above), visit www.ciachef.edu/marriott-pavilion.
Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra performs An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics, Saturday, February 7, 8 p.m., $20/$15/$5, dinner, 5-6:15 p.m., $39, Culinary Institute of America, Route 9, Hyde Park; tickets: (845) 635-0877, www.ndsorchestra.org; dinner: (845) 905-4533, email@example.com.