Category Archives: Musical Theatre

2019 in pictures

And now abide (according to these photos):  family, faith, friends, travel, MUSIC, Circus Harmony, Variety, cooking, Auggie, the garden, and Webster University.  That pretty much sums it up.

2019 holiday letter

December 2019

Dear friends and family around the world:

The Christmas tree is decorated.  Candles are lit.  The house is increasingly scented with the warm spices of the holiday season.

And while all is not well in the world, all is calm here on Lawn Place.

I began the year on sabbatical, and now end the year in a frantic rush to finish a major accreditation report at the office.  The private studio has exploded in a lovely and fulfilling way.  My circus composing is going well. And I am loving working with the Variety kids.  Fulfilling is indeed the watchword.

As I near 60 years old, I’ve made some decisions about what the next few years are going to entail.  More on this as it unfolds and becomes real.  The great news here is that I’m figuring out how my contributions to my profession and community are maturing, strengthening, and broadening, and that makes me very happy indeed.

Virginia the Landlady, JC, Dean Peter Sargent

So changes are coming, and are present as well.  Peter Sargent retired in July after being the only fine arts dean Webster has ever had, and I now have a new boss.  Sadly, Peter died just a few weeks ago.  His death has left me in a well of grief for a father-figure and mentor I loved deeply.

One of the realizations this year: my life is enriched by a web of acquaintances of various degrees of closeness, without whom life would be infinitely less interesting and connected.  The New York Times earlier this year posted an article about how people with a robust group of acquaintances are generally happier.  Circus Harmony and Variety has helped me fill some of these gaps.  The brief conversations with parents of my private students add to connection as well.  And I’m grateful!


Travel this year included not one but two trips to Morocco. I enjoyed the first trip so much I grabbed my friend Kevin and went back again a few months later.  I’ve had some Chicago time, two trips to Washington, D.C., several NYC trips, and a bit of time in Lee’s Summit.

We are all getting a bit older.  My sisters and I are all in our 50s.  Karen is a grandmother twice-over now.  Beth has only one of her three children still in public schools.  JoAnne, our father’s widow, is now in a care center, and her home (the one she shared with Pop until his death) is now on the sales block.  Change is a constant.

With my sisters.

I’ve taken numerous cooking classes this year.  Sourdough bread has been a favorite, with a starter I’ve somehow kept alive.  A cooking class in Tangier was a delight too.

The Variety Chorus finished our Spring season with a performance with Sting in April! And my circus music was hit in January.

I’ve seen a TON of shows this year!

And this summer I said ‘see you later’ to three much-loved students:

Students fill my life with joy!

I had two incredible meals this year, one in Tangier, the other at a Cuban place in DC:

And finally, some of the circus kids have become my adopted family here in Saint Louis.  The Bailey brothers helped me celebrate my birthday this year, and their family has become a fixed point for me.

This holiday season is a time of darkness and expectation, light and hope.  May the light be victorious, and may we all enjoy blessings during this season.

Jeff

Save the date | JRC cabaret in February

SONGS I WISH MY MOTHER
HAD TAUGHT ME

Tuesday, February 25, 8 p.m.
Tentative venue: the new Blue Strawberry in Central West End

Featuring such songs as

I love a piano
Bye, bye blackbird
Accentuate the positive
September Song
The man I love

and more by
Michel LeGrand, Jerry Herman, Irving Berlin, Morton Lauridsen,
Kander & Ebb, Goldrich & Heisler, and of course P.D.Q. Bach!

This is ticketed event.  Stay tuned for details.

A full Sunday

Sunday, November 10.

A full day!

Phlip was all chalked up at Circus Harmony today, and he did a somersault and then two back flips that left perfect on the carpet in the ring.

I headed to school for a fabulous faculty composers showcase concert featuring music by four intensely talented colleagues.

And then I went to the J to be part of Todd Purdum’s talk about his book Enchanted Evenings. The book is about Rodgers and Hammerstein’s collaboration. Purdum was at The J as part of the Jewish Book Festival that continues this week.

I’m grateful to Edward Coffield for asking me to provide the piano music for Purdum’s talk!

Last two weeks

I am missing three shows, but this is the loot from the last two weeks.

Missing: Lightning Thief, Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and Big Apple Circus.

What a two weeks! Two operas at the Met. Circa from Australia as part of the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center. John Williams with the SLSO. My own voice student heading Brighton Beach Memoirs. And all these musicals, both in NYC and in STL . . . .

Fall Break NYC: three-show day

I’ve only done this once before in my life, this thing called a three-show day.

And at 11.30 p.m. and just back at my hotel, I’m pretty wiped out.  Physically. Mentally.  Emotionally.

Wednesday 9 a.m.  Meet Grace & Greg Jones in Central Park West for breakfast.

10 a.m.  Arrive a couple of blocks away, just off Broadway, for an invited first public reading of Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a new musical in development by The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle and Abingdon Theatre in New York City.  Paul Fujimoto is the composer and lyricist, with book and direction by Lainie Sakakura.  The source material is Jamie Ford’s book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Spencer Donovan Jones, my voice student, is playing Teen Henry at the current moment.  He had the audience in tears at the end of Act One.  I was so proud of this kid today.

2 p.m.  After appropriate post-read greetings, and a quick chat with the creative team, I took the 1 line south to 50th, grabbed a hot dog, and ended up at the Walter Kerr on 48th, where my matinee was Hadestown.

5 p.m.  From my journal: “Hadestown. A towering production of brilliant originality, perfectly cast and stunning in its final effect.”

By the time the show was over, I had already had three cries in one day (two at Spencer’s show).  The curtain call number is the most effecting moment in a superb show.

Write a bit.  Give some tourists directions.

And then subway north again, this time Lincoln Center for a solo dinner at The Smith.

7.30 p.m.  And then Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera.  In spite of a fidgety few nearby in the third act, this rusty museum-piece production by Zeffirelli still has some legs.  Christine Goerke holds her own as Turandot, and tonight’s Calaf, Ricardo Massi, got progressively better after a wobbly start.  The whole thing lacked some steam, though. The hit of the night? Eleonaro Buratto as Liu.

And of course I cried again at the final scene.

Now midnight, and time for bed.  Thursday is a totally different kind of day!