After decades performing on the Broadway stage, Bill Carmichael relocated to Vergennes, Vermont. He hasn't stopped performing, however, and on Saturday, March 9, he'll appear at Middlebury's Town Hall Theater in a special presentation of the songs of Richard Rodgers.
Carmichael cut his performing teeth on regional theater roles in Carousel, Oklahoma, Boys from Syracuse, and A Connecticut Yankee, shows by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Rodgers and Hart, before landing his Broadway roles in Cats, Ragtime, Peter Pan, and Mamma Mia! and Les Miserables. In this cabaret, he returns to his musical roots in this salute to one of the greatest Broadway composers of all time. Charmichael will be accompanied by Jay Kerr, artistic director at Fort Salem Theater in New York's Washington County, where the pair has worked together on several shows in the theater's cabaret and on its main stage.
This collaboration explores Richard Rodgers musical mergers with lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, featuring songs from Babes in Arms, The Boys from Syracuse, A Connecticut Yankee, Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music, and includes a roster of great standards, including "Mountain Greenery," "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "It Might As Well Be Spring," and "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Richard Rodgers was still in college when he first wrote with Lorenz Hart, and the two worked together for over twenty years until Hart's death in 1943. From their show tunes come a variety of popular and jazz standards, including "The Lady Is a Tramp," "My Funny Valentine," and "Blue Moon." Starting with Oklahoma, in 1943, Rodgers and Hammerstein helped take musical theater from a medium fraught with frivolous love stories to one that dealt with serious issues, including racial prejudice, in South Pacific, and conflicts of conscience in Nazi Germany, in The Sound of Music. They came to produce their own work and that of other writers, including Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, and were instrumental individually in nurturing the careers of Stephen Sondheim and Martin Charnin. After Hammerstein's death, Rodgers unsuccessfully sought to make creative collaborative lighting strike a third time, and wrote his best music in those years writing his own lyrics.
Bill Carmichael has long marveled at the variety of styles in Rodgers music: "Sometimes the tunes are full of joy; sometimes they're very brooding. With arguably the greatest lyrics ever written, Rodgers can raise the words to new heights or play against the emotion in the lyric. Great tunes for an actor to perform!"
Charmichael performs at Town Hall Theater on Saturday, March 9 beginning at 7:30 pm. Tickets, $17, are available at www.townhalltheater.org, 802-382-9222, at the THT Box Office Monday through Saturday, noon to 5:00 pm, or at the door.