This past weekend saw the first production of “The Memory of All That: A Cabaret of Gershwin Songs” by the Touring Theatre of North Carolina at the upstage cabaret in Triad Stage. The Touring Theatre of North Carolina is a local theatre group dedicated to developing chamber series from works of literature and historical documents. Currently, they are showing a cabaret style show of George and Ira Gershwin’s songs.
The Gershwin brothers were very influential musicians of their time. Together, they produced a lot of the American popular music of the early 20th century. George Gershwin composed songs ,while Ira Gershwin wrote the lyrics. They developed musicals that gained great popularity during their time such as “An American in Paris” and “Porgy and Bess.” Along with musicals, they created individual songs that are still popular today. They wrote songs such as “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “They All Laughed” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.” This production was compiled and directed by Producing and Artistic Director of The Touring Theatre of North Carolina, Brenda P. Schleunes. This show also had musical direction by Dr. John Henry Jr., who teaches music at NC A&T.
This evening of Gershwin songs contained both the singing of some of the most popular songs done by George and Ira Gershwin, along with the history of the brothers and their journey through music-making. The plot revolved around the death of George Gershwin, and the brother’s memories were retold by the cast. The main character was Ira, and other cast members were friends to the Gershwin brothers. They talked about how the Gershwin brothers were making music in the midst of the jazz age, and personally enjoyed the jazz style in there music. They created a song called “Little Jazz Bird” that was performed by one of the female cast members during the show.
However, jazz was not the only style they contributed to. Their compositional styles ranged from traditional American musical comedy, to American opera. The first and only opera written by the Gershwin’s was called “Porgy and Bess,” and the show featured “Summertime” as a selection from that opera.
This cabaret show included five talented people that were singing, dancing and doing everything to make a memorable musical evening. The actors would take turns singing legendary solos and duets composed and produced by the Gershwins. The production also involved a student from North Carolina A&T University, who was interning with the professional cast.
The Gershwin brothers are just one example of the influence American musicals stand on today and this performance really showed how timeless the Gershwin songs are. This production also showed Gershwin brother’s brilliance, and how they still remain present in music long past both of their deaths.
This production was created in the celebration of the company’s 35th anniversary. The run for the musical only has two more shows, April 28-29. Other than “The Memory of All That: A Cabaret of Gershwin Songs,” The Touring Theatre of North Carolina will continue to produce and perform shows throughout Greensboro and North Carolina.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment