Creative Yale alumni will join with current students, faculty, and staff stage onstage at the University Theatre Jan. 23–24 for three performances of a new production of Meredith Willson’s "The Music Man.". The production will feature Broadway's David Loud '83 leading a 37-piece orchestra of Yalies past and present.
The performances are the third presentation by the Yale Musical Theater of the Air (YMTA), which has previously come together to offer productions of “Kiss Me, Kate” and "My Fair Lady" in New Haven.
Anita Stewart '83, '88 M.F.A. is directing the musical, which is being produced by Amber Edwards '82, the founding artistic director of YMTA and producer of its previous shows. The Yale Alumni Association provides administrative support for YMTA, which received a 2014 Outstanding Innovation Award from the association’s board of governors in recognition of excellence in alumni engagement.
Johnson Flucker ’80, a director of major cities for the alumni association and key organizer for YMTA, says that “playing the consummate musical con man Harold Hill is Tony nominee Reg Rogers '93 M.F.A., who loses his heart to the local librarian Marian Paroo, sung by Amy Justman '00. With comic turns by Mark Linn-Baker '76, '79 M.F.A. as the rhetorically-challenged Mayor Shinn, and Stephen DeRosa '95 M.F.A. as Harold's sidekick, Marcellus, the cast also includes Yale faculty Anne Tofflemire, Joy Hermalyn, and Evan Yionoulis '82, '85 M.F.A.; a quartet of singing group alumni harmonizing as the Barbershop Quartet (“Sincere,” “Lida Rose,” “It's You”); and an ensemble of students and recent alumni of the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater fill out the cast.” The orchestra, playing Don Walker's original Broadway orchestrations, is likewise composed of current undergraduate and graduate students, and professional alumni volunteers.
Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater celebrates its 10th year
When Theodore P. Shen ’66 decided to help launch the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater a decade ago, he wanted “to elevate American musical theater as an integral part of liberal arts education at Yale.”
While the curriculum began as an extracurricular activity, it has evolved into an interdisciplinary course of study that examines American musical theater as an indigenous American art form, influenced by changing cultural, socio-economic, and musical tastes and styles.
“It all began with Cole Porter, Class of 1913,” Edwards has written about the genesis of YMTA. “To celebrate the centennial of his graduation from Yale, a group of passionate musical theater alumni dreamed up a year of Porter events, starting with a concert presentation of his masterpiece “Kiss Me, Kate.” Conductor David Charles Abell ’81 had spent more than five years lovingly and painstakingly restoring the original Broadway orchestrations, and wanted to give them an outing.
“So we recruited professional theater alums spanning 30 years — all of them volunteers — to play the lead roles and direct, design, and produce the show, and we joined forces with the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater and with Yale University Bands to populate the singing ensemble and 47 piece orchestra,” Edwards noted. “With moral and financial support from the administration and blessed by myriad favors large and small — from artist housing in residential college guest suites to props kindly lent by Long Wharf Theater — we mounted a sold-out production at the University Theatre that the Hartford Courant named one of the Top Ten Theatrical events of 2013 in Connecticut. We had invented something special, we realized in the happy haze that followed, that should be continued.”
Tickets for the Jan. 23–24 productions of “The Music Man” — at $50 for general admission and $10 for students — can be ordered via the Yale Repertory Theatre at https://yalerep-tickets.yale.edu/.