Broadway legends are back on specials | THIRTEEN

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Carol Burnett, composer Mary Rodgers and director George Abbott rehearsing for Once Upon a Mattress, 1959. Photo by Friedman-Abeles © The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

After a 15-month shutdown, Broadway officially reopened on June 26 with Springsteen on Broadway, starring New Jersey-born rocker Bruce Springsteen, singing his songs and telling his life story in a one-man show. Tony Award-winning ensemble musicals Hamilton, Hadestown, and Bad are slated to open in September, with more shows welcoming audiences back to the Great White Way in the coming months. THIRTEEN is celebrating this memorable return to the theater with three specials that highlight Broadway legends, blockbuster musicals and more.

Liza Minelli, Kander and Ebb, and Bob Fosse

A woman with short dark hair and a shiny white top and a suit jacket raises her arms, one hand holds a microphone.  Her face is tilted upward and her mouth is open.

Liza Minnelli in LIZA WITH AZ (1972). Photo courtesy of Proven Entertainment.

Liza with a Z (Thursday, Aug. 12, 8 p.m.) features 26-year-old Liza Minnelli – daughter of Judy Garland – in dazzling full force, following on from her hit movie Cabaret, conducted by Bob Fosse, who also conducts this live concert. For this television special in 1972, Liza performed the choreography of Fosse and sang songs by the team of Broadway composers John Kander and Fred Ebb. The special concert was filmed at the Lyceum Theater in New York City and won four Emmy Awards, a DGA Award and a Peabody. Highlights include a Cabaret medley, “Ring Them Bells”, the iconic title song, and more. Marvin Hamlisch was the conductor and Halston designed the sparkly and shiny costumes.

After a rerun in 1973, the film was considered lost for 30 years. But Minnelli held the rights and organized a search for a negative which led to its restoration. The remastered film was accepted at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Hamptons Film Festival and first wowed audiences in 2005.

Ahead of the film’s August 2019 screening at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, New York Times dance critic Gia Kourlas described Liza with a Z as “a spellbinding example of the art of performance, where endurance and skill are mingled with courage and grace”.

Broadway: 1959 – 1980s

A black and white photo of men and women in stylized costumes and top hats posing in line on stage

Cast in the end costumes of “A Chorus Line”. Photo by Martha Swope (c) The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Twice Tony nominated Jonathan Groff welcomes Broadway: beyond the golden age (Thursday August 19, 8 p.m.) on Great performance, the highly anticipated sequel to director Rick McKay’s film Broadway: the golden age (2003). This film has thrilled theater fans with its astonishing Who’s Who compilation of intimate interviews with the stars of Broadway’s so-called ‘Golden Age’ in the 1940s and 1950s, creating an invaluable first-hand archive of stories. and fascinating reminiscences behind the scenes. McKay’s work on Broadway: beyond the golden age was cut short by his untimely death in 2018, but this sequel retracing the Broadway shows from 1959 to the early 1980s has now paid off.

The galaxy of stars interviewed for the film includes Bea Arthur, Elizabeth Ashley, Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Glenn Close, Charles Durning, Celeste Holm, Jane Fonda, Robert Goulet, Cherry Jones, Donna McKechnie, Robert Morse, Jerry Orbach, Elaine Paige , Don Pippin, Robert Redford, Chita Rivera, Elaine Stritch, Jane Summerhays, Tommy Tune, Dick Van Dyke, Ben Vereen, and more, touching on classic Broadway shows, including Once upon a mattress, Bye Bye Birdie, Barefoot in the park, Pippin, and 42nd street.

Donna McKechnie shares stories about creating A choir line (music and lyrics by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban). Liza Minnelli recalls playing Roxie Hart in Bob Fosse Chicago in 1975 when Gwen Verdon was at vocal rest. André De Shields, Robert Guillaume, Armelia McQueen, Ken Page and Charlaine Woodard reflect on the birth of I don’t behave badly.

In addition to broadcast and live broadcast, Broadway: beyond the golden age broadcast on demand on the Great performance (pbs.org/gperf) and the TREIZE and PBS applications. Great performance has been PBS’s showcase of the best in the performing arts for nearly 50 years.

villain in concert

A woman in a long light blue dress stands on the proscenium lip of the stage and raises her right arm while singing;  an orchestra is in the pit in front of her.

Ariana DeBose performs “The Wizard and I” in WICKED IN CONCERT.

Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, stars of the original hit Broadway musical Bad, host villain in concert (Sunday, August 29, 9 p.m.), a reinvention of the hit musical in an intimate concert setting. The star-studded cast includes Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen), Amber Riley (Joy), Alex Newell (Once on this island, Glee), Ariana DeBose (Hamilton) and Sara Bareilles (Great performances: Superstar of Jesus Christ in concert, waitress), performing “Defying Gravity”, “Popular” and other beloved songs from Tony’s award-winning musical.


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