The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) continues to study and celebrate the work of composer Kurt Weill with Into a Lamplit Room: The Songs of Kurt Weill presented by CCM's Department of Musical Theatre at 7 p.m. on both Sunday, March 3, and Sunday, March 10.
Devised and directed by CCM Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre Aubrey Berg with musical direction by Julie Spangler and musical staging by Joey Dippel, this evening of cabaret-style entertainment offers a compilation of Weill songs in the intimate setting of UC's Cohen Family Studio Theater.
Raised in Dessau, Germany, Weill experienced early success in Berlin, including several notable collaborations with playwright Bertolt Brecht. Weill fled the new Nazi leadership in March 1933 and continued his indefatigable efforts, first in Paris (1933-35), then in the U.S. until his death in 1950. Certain common threads tie together Weill's career: a concern for social justice, an aggressive pursuit of highly regarded playwrights and lyricists as collaborators, and the ability to adapt to audience tastes no matter where he found himself.
Into a Lamplit Room draws on Weill's work in both Berlin and the United States. "The best-known revue of Weill music, Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill, was performed Off-Broadway at the Theatre de Lys in 1972," Berg explains. "That work presents Weill's songs in chronological order to create a biographical portrait of the composer. Into a Lamplit Room arranges the works thematically, freely mixing songs from Weill's Berlin period with songs from his Broadway successes."
CCM's revue begins at Weill's funeral in 1950, after he suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 50. Senior Greg Kamp plays the role of Weill in this production (Kamp also plays Tiger Brown in CCM's production of Weill and Brecht's The Threepenny Opera), which looks back at the composer's relatively short life and the topics that featured repeatedly in his works. "Into a Lamplit Room mixes well-known songs such as 'Mack the Knife,' arranged by Julie Spangler in the style of the Manhattan Transfer, with obscure songs that Weill wrote for revues supporting the American war effort," says Berg.
This production's title comes from a quotation etched on Weill's gravestone at the Mount Repose Cemetery in Haverstraw, N.Y. The text comes from the song "A Bird of Passage" from Weill and playwright Maxwell Anderson's 1949 musical Lost in the Stars, itself adapted from a quotation from the Venerable Bede:
"This is the life of men on earth:
Out of darkness we come at birth
Into a lamplit room, and then -
Go forward into dark again."
Speaking at Weill's funeral, Anderson remarked, "I wish, of course, that he had been lucky enough to have had a little more time for his work. I could wish the times in which he lived had been less troubled. But these things were as they were - and Kurt managed to make thousands of beautiful things during the short and troubled time he had ... ."
According to Berg, "Into a Lamplit Room gives us a glimpse of those 'beautiful things.'"
This production runs concurrently with CCM's Mainstage Series production of Weill and Brecht's iconic The Threepenny Opera (Feb. 28 - March 10). These two productions share many of the same cast members, and both are made possible by the generous support of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc.
Learn more about CCM's Mainstage Series production of Weill and Brecht's The Threepenny Opera.
Performance Times: 7 p.m. Sunday, March 3; 7 p.m. Sunday, March 10 at the Cohen Family Studio Theater, CCM Village University of Cincinnati.
Tickets to Into a Lamplit Room are $15 for adults, $10 for non-UC students and free for UC students with valid ID. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office or over the telephone at 513-556-4183.
Parking and Directions: Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates. For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music Inc. administers, promotes and perpetuates the legacies of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. It encourages broad dissemination and appreciation of Weill's music through support of performances, productions, recordings and scholarship; it fosters understanding of Weill's and Lenya's lives and work within diverse cultural contexts; and, building upon the legacies of both, it nurtures talent, particularly in the creation, performance and study of musical theater in its various manifestations and media. Learn more about the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music by visiting www.kwf.org.