Put As Much As You Can Into Your Heads – Nobody Can Take That Away From You

“Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. It’s beautiful.”

Alice Herz-Sommer’s stellar heath at the age of 109 is not the only thing that makes her special. She is the oldest living pianist and Holocaust survivor, and arguably one of the most optimistic people you may ever meet. This touching preview for the upcoming documentary following her life,  “The Lady In Number 6,” shows how music not only saved her life in the camp, but also continues to carry her through each day after the ordeal.

The camp in which she was placed is a terrifying example of the ultimate living-theatre experiment. In 1944, the German leaders created a propaganda film and presented Theresienstadt as a model Jewish settlement to the visiting Red Cross; it was all an elaborate hoax.

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The Germans “beautified” the ghetto, planting gardens and painting houses. Individuals received roles to play and the Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Hints that all was not well included a bruise under the eye of the “mayor” of the “town.”  In the Nazi propaganda film, Theresienstadt was cynically described as a “spa town” where elderly German Jews could “retire” in safety. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944.

And yet still, shining examples like Alice appear, wielding hope as an impenetrable shield:

“I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times — including my husband, my mother and my beloved son. Yet, life is beautiful, and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.”

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Playing an Instrument Like It Will Save Your Life

Because, who knows? It just might.

Watch Colin Stetson, a saxophonist known for touring with Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre and Bon Iver, barely pause for a breath as he creates a wonderwall of sound underneath the city.

A reminder that whatever you choose to do, do it wholeheartedly. Because passion like that is infectious. 

Lizzie’s Back

The team behind the raucous rock retelling of Lizzie Borden released their concept album this month. Few things will prepare you for October thrills and chills as well as this CD.

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Based on the most notorious “unsolved” murder case of the 1800s, this Cheslik-DeMeyer, Hewitt and Maner tuner is currently getting a treatment in Houston’s TUTS Underground season.

The album’s powerhouse voices and catchy belt-along-numbers are made only more delightful by some thoughtful sound editing that infuses tense moments with an extra dose of terror. A terrific adrenaline-infused ride from start to finish.

For a taste of the show for those not familiar, check out the clip below:

 

Reasons why this montage from last year’s Cleveland production might rock your world a little:

Lizzie ________ Borden. Who knew that the real life Borden had such intense daddy-issues?

Look at what they’re wearing. Uptight Victorian dresses devolve into Versace-inspired rock wear. Leather, lace and tulle give this 19th century retelling a vicious bite.

Look ma! No Men. They effectively tell the entire story employing only female characters – Lizzie Borden, her sister Emma, the housemaid and the girl-next-door/maybe-secret-lover.

You will never think of hairspray cans in the same way again. Brilliant take on Borden burning up an old dress, one of the pieces of potential evidence.

Four ladies fierce screlting their faces off. Enough said.

Sing Along and Celebrate the End of Ice Cream

Not forever, just the end of National Ice Cream month.

To celebrate, Jen and Barry released these new musical theatre flavors:

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More Hot (Pecan) Pies British Toffee Flavored Ice Cream with Raspberry Swirl, and with Bits of Pie Crust & Chopped Pecans

Can You Hear

Can You Hear Your Tastebuds Sing? French Vanilla, Red Currant and Blueberry Ice Cream with Pretzel Wheels and One-Day-Aged Brioche

More at Crazytown

Leave a Message and Receive a “Call” Back Unlike Any Other

What happens when the world opens up to one musician, one voicemail at a time?

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One Hello World tackles the universal desire for human connectedness – a mysterious pianist from Wichita sets strangers’ voicemails to music. Inspired by film scores and a deep curiosity about the our interconnectedness, his project explores the thoughts of others with honesty and creativity, bringing light to our universal condition.

Snippets from a few popular messages include:

I’m not afraid to grow up. I guess I’m just afraid that I’ll forget what it’s like to be a kid.”

“I think that loneliness is a term that’s misconceived by everybody. There’s two different things: there’s being alone and there’s being lonely. I’ve learned loneliness is only something you invite when you’re by yourself. And I can be by myself and be completely happy.”

I know that someday you will be happy, and even if it’s not with me. But there’s a little piece of me that hopes that you’ll be happy with me, old.”

“I realize now that I at least deserved to be loved as much as I loved. To be treated with respect and thoughtfulness. I will know you will do those things. You will piece my heart back together and show me what real love is supposed to be like. And everyday you will astound me with how wonderful life can be with the right person by my side. For now, I’m waiting patiently. I love you.

“You’re the first girl in a while to actually affect me. Make me care about somebody other than myself… maybe a warning for everyone else is, the worst thing you can do is fall in love with your best friend.”

Each message unique and yet part of a larger tapestry of what we care about, what hurts us, what inspires us, and what draws us together.

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Bite-sized Wisdom: Nash and Weill

Need a tune to hum? Look no further than the songwriter combo of Nash and Weill.

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“Time is so old and love so brief
Love is pure gold and time a thief.”

- “Speak Low” Ogden Nash & Kurt Weill

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Save a Pocket Monster, Change the World

Sarah McLachlan, that angel of the 90s, just filmed a promo for us. It’s for a cause we both care about deeply.

If you can find it in your heart to spare a dollar or two, please join us in our fight.

Pika approved!

Pika approved!

You Have to Move On/ Il Faut Avancer

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Theatre du Chatelet, renowned Paris institution headed by Jean-Luc Choplin, recently presented Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s award-winning and heartbreaking SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. Lucky for those of us that weren’t able to hop on a plane to Paris during its run, the production was filmed and broadcast by Mezzo TV. And now, this new version is available to download for free, albeit for a very limited time.

The original Broadway production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, directed by James Lapine, starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, was similarly filmed and quickly became a staple in the collector’s canon. For those of you who haven’t seen any of the original cast, or for those that could always use a refresher, enjoy the two duetting on “Move On.”


In this number, Dot appears to her great grandson (that of her lover George Seurat), also named George, who is struggling with his art

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me

Article Worth Reading: “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You”

James Rhodes gave up the piano for 10 years, trading it in for the promise of the City and searching for some sort of security. Then decided his dream of becoming a concert pianist trumped all.

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From the Guardian’s recent article:

“What if rather than a book club you joined a writer’s club? Where every week you had to (really had to) bring three pages of your novel, novella, screenplay and read them aloud?
 
What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of “I love you” until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack?”

Read on

Image before editing: Alan Cleaver

Singing Boxers and Epic Montages: Bringing Beloved Films to Broadway

Officially announced yesterday: ROCKY’s coming to the Great White Way.

Yes, everyone’s favorite “little boxer that could” is getting his chance to belt it out.

Skeptical? No need. The production got rave reviews over in Germany on its first tryout of the material. Features music from Ahrens and Flaherty (Ragtime, The Glorious Ones, Once on this Island) and what appears to be pretty thrilling direction from Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). 

How do you think Rocky will fare?