“The musical sequences are truly fabulous in every sense . . . . Weill’s score offers a gorgeous mid-20th century mix of operetta, jazzy pop tunes, and patter numbers, driven by various dance rhythms including rumba, fox-trot, bolero, and waltz, all of which the composer himself suavely orchestrated for a 20-member orchestra. Gershwin’s lyrics are very clever, frequently amusing, and far more sophisticated than anything currently heard along Broadway. . . . It’s a rare pleasure to see and hear this fantastical masterpiece presented in such a thoroughly lovely rendition.”
–Michael Sommers, NY Stage Review, 27 April 2019
“[Lady in the Dark] sounds great, particularly the pit musicians, who are making use of a recent critical edition of Weill’s score . . . . Hearing Weill’s original orchestration is a major draw in a thoughtful production.
“A performance of Lady in the Dark rises or falls with its Liza–and Victoria Clark is consistently engaging . . . . Ms. Clark nailed a brassier tone during a vivacious rendition of ‘The Saga of Jenny.’ Following David Pittu’s sassy, nimble blitz through the tongue-twisting ‘Tschaikowsky,’ this sequence created a sense of strutting delirium that made clear why the show was a hit in the first place. Members of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s had the music sounding idiomatically Weill: suave-then-tart, swinging lightly but not weakly. The MasterVoices chorus was admirably crisp.”
–Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, 26 April 2019
“The news of today, though, is not only that Ted Sperling and MasterVoices have masterfully presented Lady in the Dark as a full-cast/full orchestra concert version at City Center, if for a far-too-short three-performance run; but that due in great part to the performance of Victoria Clark as the lady of the case, we can vehemently exclaim: ‘What a show!’
“Clark demonstrates unquestioned allure in the ‘Glamour Dream,’ charming innocence in the ‘[Childhood Sequence],’ and altogether slays the house in the ‘[Circus] Dream’ with her knock-out delivery of ‘The Saga of Jenny.’
“The second star of the evening is Sperling, who directs and conducts Weill’s own expert orchestrations. He is justly celebrated for his musical direction of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals at Lincoln Center Theater; but he has long demonstrated a fierce passion for Weill. The production is musically impeccable.”
–Steven Suskin, NY Stage Review, 27 April 2019
“I was struck that it’s kind of the precursor to the film version of Chicago. I wonder if there are others, or if this was the first. But it really is fascinating. It’s a straight play with all of these fairly lengthy dialogue scenes, and then punctuated by the musical sequences which are all dreams . . . . Peter [Filichia] called this a ‘play with musicals.’ The musical sequences in this show have also been described as ‘mini-operas’ because there’s little if any dialogue in the musical sequences . . . . That was bold and audacious.”
–Michael Portantiere, BroadwayRadio podcast, 28 April 2019
“All musical theater connoisseurs owe a huge debt of gratitude to MasterVoices for shining a new light on Lady in the Dark, the rarely-seen 1941 musical by Kurt Weill, Ira Gershwin and Moss Hart, now in an all-too-brief engagement at New York City Center. This thoroughly engaging and sometimes thrilling concert presentation, cleverly directed and conducted by Ted Sperling and starring a superb Victoria Clark as troubled fashion magazine editor Liza Elliott, is definitely worth catching . . . .”
–Brian Scott Lipton, Theater Pizzazz, 26 April 2019
“[Lady in the Dark is] one of the finest and most complex musicals ever written, resurrected essentially complete with original orchestrations and a cast up to its considerable demands . . . . From the first notes heard at City Center, it was clear that Lady was in good hands musically. . . . Clark is absolutely the right actress to do this–scrupulous honesty and a lack of artifice are hallmarks of her style. . . . Vocally and dramatically, she absolutely aced ‘The Saga of Jenny,’ and it would be difficult to imagine a lovelier or more moving ‘My Ship.’
“Of this much I feel certain: Lady in the Dark is the greatest musical that hardly anyone has actually seen.”
–David Fox, Parterre Box, 28 April 2019
“On this occasion, conductor and director Ted Sperling, MasterVoices’ artistic director, has done a, well, masterful job in all departments. The script–the world premiere of a new adaptation by Christopher Hart (son of Moss) and Kim Kowalke–plays very well indeed. And nothing’s been radically altered, nor did it need to be. Liza has plenty of agency, as indeed she very much had in the original production. Listen to one of Gertrude Lawrence’s radio broadcasts of the show, and you hear as much a strong-minded independent career woman as Victoria Clark played her here.
“The show is, in fact, rife with operetta references, as critical edition co-editor bruce d. mcclung points out in his fascinating introductory essay. He cites a parody of the opening male chorus of Sigmund Romberg’s The Student Prince for ‘Oh Fabulous One.’ And the verse of ‘This Is New’ with its reference to ‘the pleasure dome of Kubla Khan’ suggests the exotic locales often used in American operettas, with the foxtrot-ballad refrain also in the operetta tradition. ‘The Trial of Liza Elliott’ pays homage to Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Trial by Jury.’ And, the Ringmaster’s ‘The Best Years of His Life,’ mcclung continues, bears echoes of the sort of ensemble waltzes heard in European operetta ﬁnales.
“Sperling’s conducting of the score was simply ravishing with Weill’s sinuous orchestrations registering with crystalline clarity as played by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
“Let’s hope a CD of Sperling and company’s exceptional work will be forthcoming. It would surely be the best version of the complete score yet.”
–Harry Forbes, Forbes on Film & Footlights, 29 April 2019
“Christopher Hart and Kim Kowalke are responsible for this deft, urbane adaptation which never feels its length. Music and lyrics will stand any test of time. An utterly splendid evening.”
–Alix Cohen, Woman Around Town, 28 April 2019
“To enhance this concert version of Lady in the Dark, musical director Ted Sperling took up Anna Wintour’s recommendation to work with Vogue editor Hamish Bowles to find current fashion designers to realize the costumes and look of the individual dream sequences with the ‘Glamour Dream’ designed by Zac Posen, the ‘Circus Dream’ designed by Thom Browne, and Marchesa designing Liza’s bridal gown in the ‘Wedding Dream.’ Costume designer Tracy Christensen provided the clothing for the real-life scenes and supplement[ed] and coordinate[d] the work of these three fashion designers’ contributions to this concert version of Lady in the Dark.”
–Mark Kappel, News Notes Dance Blog, 26 April 2019
All photos by Richard Termine.