'Beguiled Again' at LMC this weekend

Article Published: Apr. 7, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The careers of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart covered more than 20 years in the early 20th century, and their music has filled a major chapter in the Great American Songbook ever since.
The Lees-McRae College Performing Arts program presents "Beguiled Again," a celebration of this musical bonanza, this weekend at Hayes Auditorium in Banner Elk.

By featuring more than 50 of their songs in a revue format, "Beguiled Again" paints a tuneful portrait of two timeless American songwriters. The cast of 19 singers and dancers will perform such standards as "My Funny Valentine," "Johnny One-Note," "Where or When," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "My Heart Stood Still" and "Manhattan."

"The production showcases the songs themselves; there is no real plot or story, but just all these glorious melodies," said Dr. Michael Hannah, director of the production. "We want to let the music speak for itself - and it does beautifully."

The cast will be supported by an on-stage musical combo of piano, bass and drums. Songs flow from one to another, sometimes with brief acting scenes, but most often with just audience applause between them. Some songs feature their original arrangements, but others have been specially arranged for "Beguiled Again" and offer new harmonies for a well-known tune.

"I felt it was important for our students to be more familiar with music from this era," Hannah said. "I love Rodgers and Hart's music and wanted the students to enjoy it as much as I do."

Most people probably know Rodgers and Hammerstein better than they know Rodgers and Hart, but Rodgers worked with Hart long before he partnered with Oscar Hammerstein II in 1943 to create "Oklahoma!" While that partnership produced many of the best-known productions of the Golden Age of American Musicals, Rodgers and Hart gave some of the most recognizable and often recorded melodies of the century.

Their musicals included "Jumbo," "Pal Joey," "The Boys from Syracuse," "Babes in Arms," "By Jupiter," "A Connecticut Yankee" and "On Your Toes." At the time their shows were hits, Hannah said, songs were not very integrated into the plots. But that meant that the songs took on lives of their own outside of the productions themselves and became America's popular music.

Hannah said audience members may not know which of Rodgers and Hart's productions produced certain songs, but they will certainly know the songs.

"Everyone will probably leave the auditorium humming at least one song that will be their favorite," he said.

These songs have been recorded by artists like Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., The Supremes, Bobby Darin, Lena Horne, Judy Collins, Carly Simon and Natalie Cole.

"Beguiled Again" runs Friday and Saturday, April 8 to 9, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. in Hayes Auditorium on the LMC campus in Banner Elk. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the door. Call (828) 898-8721 for more information.

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