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The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts Blog Schimmel Center seeks to enrich and engage our audiences by bringing world-class talent to Lower Manhattan. Our programming features internationally-acclaimed talent in the areas of music, dance, film, cabaret and lecture.

08 October 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Bless Your Beautiful Lyrics- Inside “American Showstoppers: An Evening with Johnny Mercer

On Friday, October 9, Fred Barton is back with his 14-piece orchestra and cast of Broadway singers and dancers to pay tribute to yet another American showman. But this time, instead of paying tribute to the music of a composer, Barton focuses on a master of the lyric. Johnny Mercer was a prolific lyricist whose songs provided commentary on the American life through much of the twentieth century. Whether he was teaming up with greats like Henry Mancini, Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael or working solo, Mercer created an incredible body of work that would add many entries into the, “Great American Songbook.” To celebrate, we are counting down some of the greatest show-stopping numbers from the composer’s career. Below are Mercer’s 10 greatest songs according to this blogger.

Bless Your Beautiful Hide- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

The MGM film, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is consistently voted as one of the greatest musical movies of all time and it is in large thanks to the incredible songs provided by Saul Chaplin, Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer. It is no surprise that the team won an Academy Award for “Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.” Below, Howard Keel as Adam sings the opening number and perhaps the best song in the film.

If I Had My Druthers- Li’l Abner

In 1956, MErcer set about writing lyrics for a musical that would bring to life the comics of Al Capp. Featuring the characters of Dogpatch, USA, the musical made commentary on American politics, propriety and gender roles. Perhaps the most famous song from the piece is sung below by Mercer himself along with crooner, Bobby Darren.


Days of Wine and Roses- Days of Wine and Roses

This Academy Award winner of best original song was co-written by Henry Mancini for the 1963 film of the same name. The film, a heavy hitter starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, is about a married couple that descend into a bitter battle with alcoholism. Mercer seemed willing to tackle just about any issue facing the American life.

That Old Black Magic

This song is said to be written about Judy Garland, whom Mercer was often romantically linked to. Garland ended up recording the song in 1942. Here Jerry Lewis sings the song in the original “Nutty Professor” film.


On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe- The Harvey Girls

Another Academy Award  winner for Best song, Mercer wrote this one for a popular Judy Garland vehicle, “The Harvey Girls.” Here is the original version from the film.


Something’s Gotta Give- Daddy Long Legs

Written for  the 1955 musical film “Daddy Long Legs, ” The song playfully uses the irresistible force paradox – which asks what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object – as a metaphor for a relationship between a vivacious woman and an older, world-weary man. Here it is sung by Sammy Davis Jr.

Come Rain or Come Shine

Originally written for the Broadway musical, “St. Louis Woman,” in 1946 with music by Harold Arlen, this musical has become a standard covered by everyone from Dinah Shore to Ella Fitzgerald to Ray Charles. Here it is sung by Judy Garland who was often romantically linked to Mercer.


Any Place I hang my hat is home

Also introduced in the 1946 musical, “St. L:ouis Woman,” the song would go on to be a hit for Barbra Streisand. Here she sings it for “The Bob Hope Comedy Hour.”

Hooray for Hollywood- Hollywood Hotel

What Irving Berlin did for Showbiz, Mercer did for Hollywood. Introduced in the 1937 film Hollywood Hotel, “Hooray for Hollywood” has become the official anthem of the film industry.

Moon River- Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Perhaps Merecer’s most prolific yet simple lyrics ever. Moon River was introduced to us in the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s when it was delivered simply Audrey Hepburn sitting on a fire escape in her most iconic role, Holly Golightly. Here is that version.

American Showstoppers: An Evening with Johnny Mercer featuring the Fred Barton Orchestra;  Friday, October 9 at 7:30pm; tickets $55 | $39 | $29 ; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715


01 October 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Battle of the Brass: Inside the New York Brass Showdown

The New York Gypsy Festival is back! Always proving to be one of our most popular offerings, the 11th Annual Gypsy Festival is hosting their finale show at the Schimmel. This year it promises to be bigger and better than ever. Four of New York’s greatest Brass bands will converge on the Schimmel Stage for an epic battle of the bands. The winner will take home the title of, “Best Brass Band in New York.” The four Brass Bands featured range from Gypsy style to Klezmer; bringing our audience a rounded and robust experience as diverse as the Big Apple itself. Be sure to watch the clips of the bands below. Then be sure to book your seats for this one-of -a-kind event which is also the first of it’s kind in the tri-state area.


Slavic Soul Party


Underground Horns


Hungry March Band


Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars


New York Brass Showdown featuring Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars featuring Eleanor Reissa, Hugry March Band, Slavic Soul Party, Underground Horns; Part of the 11th Annual New York Gypsy Festival; Curated by Livesounds.org; Sunday, September 20th at 3pm; All Seats $19; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715


24 September 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Healing Through Dance: Inside Gaspard&Dancers’ “Trilogy”

In 2010 the small island nation of Haiti saw one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent memory when they were ravaged by an earthquake of a 7.0 magnitude. Now, 5 years later one artist is offering his personal response to the devastation of his home nation with a moving dance tribute. Gaspard Louis, a native of Haiti and  former dancer of the renowned Pilobolus Dance Theatpany in 2009. re for 10 years, started his own company in 2009. Comprised of three dance pieces, his latest piece, “Trilogy” tells the story of a community visited by disaster and their journey of healing and rebuilding.

Gaspard Louis explains the piece in his own words.

“The trilogy was my own personal response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. I created ‘Souke’ - shake , which is the first piece of the ‘Trilogy’ after I interviewed Jean Leon Destine , whom I like to refer to as the ‘father of Haitian.’ At the time of the interview I was working on my MFA and the interview was my thesis , which was the piece ‘Souke’ - shake referencing the earthquake. This piece demonstrates the strength and resiliency of the Haitian people. It also shows how when we all come together for a common cause we can  do anything.  The Haitians did not have big fancy machines to dig the bodies from underneath the rubble, that did not stop them from using their bare hands to help their fellow citizens.

“‘Annatations’ - made up word – came from the word ‘natation’, as in to swing across to the other side. This title was actually coined by my friend and supporter David Liu, who I refer to as Gaspard&Dancers’ philosopher in residence. This piece is about the 300,000 souls who were perished from this natural disaster. These souls found themselves in the realm of purgatory, having to undergo a final cleansing process before they move to their final destination.

 “L’Esprit “- the Spirit – is about a town that is brought  to life again. They realize that life must go on.”

 “Trilogy” plays this Friday and Saturday, September 25th and 26th at 7:30pm.  Enjoy the video below and book your seats for this stirring work of dance.

Gaspard&DAncers’ “Trilogy”;  Friday and Saturday, September 25th and 26th at 7:30pm; All Seats $29; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715

18 September 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Pumpkins, Glass Slippers and Tutus: Inside New York Theatre Ballet’s Cinderella

Once upon a time……..

This Sunday, September 20th, the Schimmel is proud to kick off our 2015-16 “Family Fun” season with New York Theatre Ballet’s acclaimed version of Cinderella.  What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with the classic “rags-to-riches” tale of princesses, pumpkins, fairy godmothers and glass slipper? Cinderella is part of the New York Theatre Ballet’s “Once Upon a Ballet” series. New York Theatre Ballet is committed to building an appreciation of dance among pre-school and grade school children. Their approach to dancing for children is groundbreaking and unique. Each year it presents an entire season of one-hour classic story ballets tailored to the attention span of young kids with choreography that is sophisticated enough for the most discerning parent. Over the last 30 years Once Upon a Ballet has introduced thousands of youngsters in New York City and around the country to the world of ballet and dance, fostering their knowledge and appreciation of the performing arts and building audiences of the future.

Tickets are going fast! Be sure to enjoy the trailer of this enchanting production below!


New York Theatre Ballet’s “Cinderella”;  Sunday, September 20th at 3pm; Seats $20 for adults and $10 for students and children; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715

14 September 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Something Old and Something New: Inside New York Theatre Ballet’s “Legends & Visionaries”

The Schimmel Center is proud to open our season on Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th with the highly celebrated, New York Theatre Ballet’s “Legends & Visionaries.” This program both revives classic work by legendary choreographers Merce Cunningham and Agnes DeMille and debuts exciting new pieces by contemporary choreographers Pam Tanowitz and Nicolo Fonte.

Members of New York Theatre Ballet

Members of New York Theatre Ballet

In juxtaposition to their family matinee offering, Cinderella, on Sunday, September 20th, the “Legends and Visionaries” program will feature two fairy tales with grown up sensibilities. The company is ecstatic to be presenting a revival of Agnes de Mille’s “Three Virgins and a Devil,” which first premiered in 1941. The comic ballet tells the story of three virginal maids who end up running across the devil and is based on a folk tale by Giovanni Boccaccio. De Mille, perhaps most famous for her choreography of landmark musicals such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, and Brigadoon, began her career with American Ballet Theatre in 1939. “Three Virgins and a Devil” was one of many successful pieces that she would create for the company. Her love for acting and storytelling helped shape her choreography. Her subjects varied from the romance of the old west (Rodeo) to the scandalous life of Lizzie Borden (Fall River Legend.) Fun fact: Sallie Wilson, one of the original “virgins” in the 1941 premiere of the piece later became New York Theatre Ballet’s Ballet Mistress and coach for over 15 years, until her death.

Nicolo Fonte’s “There, And Back Again,” is an updated, adult take on the Grimm Brothers’ Hansel and Gretel. The piece has been well received by Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times, “Mr. Fonte’s ‘There, and Back Again’ is a dramatic dance quartet that confers distinct characters on its two men, Mr. Melendez and Michael Wells (a performer whose elegance has an appealing brutishness) and two women, Ms. Treiber and Elena Zahlmann. We’re immediately aware of mystery (one dancer is masked). Mr. Fonte doesn’t let the tension drop throughout the sustained duets, trios, quartets; and it’s heightened by occasional Expressionist, staccato gestures and turns of the head.” The piece continues the long relationship between Mr. Fonte and New York Theatre Ballet, which was the first company to commission Fonte’s work right after his graduation from SUNY Purchase.

The evening also sees a revival of Merce Cunningham’s Cross Currents first performed in 1964. The trio is re-staged by Jennifer Goggans and is performed to an arrangement of Conlon Nancarrow’s Rhythm Studies for Player Piano Nos. 1-6.  The title of the piece comes from the way the dancer’s paths frequently intersect, and from the original rhythmic qualities of the ballet, where each dancer has their own, distinct rhythms, but always meet at the end of the phrase.NYTB’s founder and Artistic Director, Diana Byer, calls the piece, “compelling and unpredictable but always satisfying.”

The program is rounded out by Pam Tanowitz’s Double Andante. Performed to a classic work by Ludwig van Beethoven, the piece is the perfect metaphor for the evening; the new juxtaposed by the classic.

See you at the Schimmel!

Schimmel Center Blogger

Michael Scott-Torbet

New York Theatre Ballet’s “Legends & Visionaries”; Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th at 7:30pm; All Seats $29; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715 ; https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/949159