Monthly Archives: September 2009

Gene Scheer: Librettist, Songwriter, and Lyricist by Victoria Jackson

Gene Scheer is a man of many talents and abilities.  He received a musical education from multiple schools: the Eastman School of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music; the University of Cologne in Europe; and Vienna’s Hochschule Für Musik.  While studying in Vienna, Scheer began to perform lead musical theater roles in Munich, Cologne, andVienna.  He also began to write music as a hobby.

photo_gene_scheer2
This hobby helped to mold Scheer into what he is today.  Part of Scheer’s musical brilliance stems from his ability to crossover between various types of music.  His songs have been sung by many different artists—from Sylvia McNair to Norah Jones.

American Anthem,” one of Scheer’s most renowned songs, was written in 1998 and first performed for President and Ms. Clinton at the Smithsonian Institute by Denyce Graves.  In addition, the song was performed on the Oprah Winfrey show after the September 11th tragedy and also at George W. Bush’s 2005 Inauguration.  “American Anthem” has later been performed by Patti Labelle and the US Army Band and Chorus.

In 2001 Gene Scheer and Tobias Picker wrote their first opera: “Therese Raquin” which premiered at the Dallas Opera and was later performed in Montreal (in French) and in San Diego.  Their recording was marked as one of the ten best recordings of 2002.  Four years later, a new production of the opera opened at Covent Garden in the Linbury Theater.  In 2005 Scheer and Picker worked together on their second opera collaboration “An American Tragedy” which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera.

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The pink triangle comes alive at holocaust remembrance concert.  <http:// http://www.musicof remembrance.org/news/pink-triangle-comes-alive-holocaust-remembrance-concert>.  20 September 2009.

The Librettist: Gene Scheer.  <http://archive.operainfo.org/broadcast/ composer. cgi?id=109&language=1>.  20 September 2009

Gene Scheer.  <http://www.genescheer.com/biography.aspx&gt;. 20 September 2009.

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Aaron Lazar: Young, Handsome, Talented

                                        –by Liz Qiao

Aaron Lazar was raised in the quaint Cherry Hill Township of New Jersey, but was recently seen performing, singing, and dancing with renown actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in Broadway’s successful revival A Little Night of Music.  Mr. Lazar’s successful career did not come all in a sudden; his professional record reveals the amount of work and patience necessary to achieve one’s end goals.    

lazar

Mr. Lazar attended Duke University, where he a pursued a future in medical studies alongside a Bachelor of Arts degree in music.  While most students proceeded to follow more conventional and stable industries like investment banking and law, Mr. Lazar made a 180 degree turn and headed for the stage lights.

No tall, dark, and handsome belongs in a medical clinic.  Probably realizing this, Aaron abandoned academia to embrace a realm in which he has found much success. After attending the College of Conservatory Music, Aaron became one of the “triple threats” that the CCM is well known for breeding.  He was able to sing, act, and dance with equal skill. .Once he nailed a role in the Broadway National Tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel, he never turned back. 

In 2007, Mr. Lazar was nominated a Drama Desk Award for his fascinating performance in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Miserables.  He has also starred as Fabrizio Nacarelli in The Light in the Piazza, and as “Charles Darnay” in the 2008 revival of A Tale of Two Cities.  Mr. Lazar has also held understudy roles in The Phantom of the Opera and Oklahoma! More recently, he appeared in episodes of “Ugly Betty,” and “New Amsterdam,” and in films “The Notorious Bettie Page,” and “One Man’s Castle.”  This year, Mr. Lazar performed in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music as the gullible, jealous, yet hilarious military man Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm.  His performance was captivating, believable, and above all, brought inspiration to the Duke students who glowed and beamed with pride as his audience. 

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Sources

Aaron Lazaar. Web. Nov. 2009. <www.aaronlazaar.com>.

“Aaron Lazaar.” Cllege of Conservatory Music. Web. <http://www.aaronlazar.com/images/njlifemag.pdf?id=3245&gt;. 

“A little Night Music.” Broadway World. Web.

<http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Its_Official_Lansbury_ZetaJones_Set_for_A_LITTLE_NIGHT_MUSIC_Lazar_Davie_Hanson_Larkin_Herdlicka_Mallory_to_Star_20090922

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AARON LAZAR: Actor and Singer

By Anna Ruddle

AARON-LAZAR-1

“And in the back of my mind, I wondered if I could make it as an actor…”

Unlike many actors and actresses who learn to sing and dance before they can walk, young Aaron Lazar never thought he would be living the dream that he is today. Quite the Renaissance man, Lazar explored his many athletic and musical talents in his hometown of Cherry Hill, NJ. At Cherry Hill High, Lazar’s dedication to the soccer, baseball, football and track and field teams was complimented by his devotion to the theater group as he landed many lead roles such as Julian Marsh in 42nd Street and Tony in West Side Story. His well-rounded character and many athletic and musical talents led Lazar to choose to attend Duke University. Lazar spent his time studying pre-Med courses and also, as electives, received formal training in acting and classical voice. Though he took the MCATs in hope to attend Medical School, after graduation Lazar’s heart was somewhere else. “The MCAT scores are good for three years,” said Lazar. “And in the back of my mind, I wondered if I could make it as an actor.”
Lazar went on to study musical theatre at The College of Conservatory Music at the University of Cincinnati. Here, CCM trained him to be what they call a “triple threat student”: A student who can sing, dance, and act with equal skill. Lazar utilized his talent to land himself understudy roles in musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Oklahoma, which later led him to be cast in the lead role of ‘Fabrizio Nacarelli’ in Broadway’s The Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center. Landing this role was a life-changing experience for Lazar as The Light in the Piazza was a Tony Award winner and was broadcasted on PBS’ Live at Lincoln Center.

Lazar continued his success with The Light in the Piazza with a critical acclaim and a 2007 Drama Desk Award Nomination for his performance as ‘Enjolras’ in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Miserables. He has also starred in A Tale of Two Cities as ‘Charles Darnay’ and recently starred in Broadway’s play Impressionism directed by Jack O’Brien. Other highlights of Mr. Lazar’s career include his television guest appearances on “Ugly Betty”, “New Amsterdam”, and “The Today Show”. Lazar has also been a guest soloist with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall; Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops; Marvin Hamlisch and The National Symphony Orchestra; South Pacific with Reba McEntire at The Hollywood Bowl; and also has toured with Barry Manilow.

Lazar believes that “audiences deserve an authentic, artistic experience that challenges them to open their hearts and to feel.” This philosophy of acting contributes to his past and present success.
Lazar is married to Ford model, LeAnn Lazar.

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Jones, Keneth. Playbill.com “Broadway’s Tale of Two Cities Will Star Barbour, Lazar, Toro, Edelman, Burkhardt.” 30 Jun. 2008. Available from http://www.playbill.com/news/article/119100- Accessed 14 September 2009.
Lazar, Aaron. Aaron Lazar. Available from http://www.aaronlazar.com/. Accessed 14 September 2009.
The New York Times: Fashion and Style. LeAnn Garris, Aaron Lazar. 7 November 2004. Available from http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/07/fashion/weddings/07GARR.html Accessed 14 September 7 2009.
Niven, Felicia Lowenstein. “Acting the Part-Aaron Lazar” Lifestyle People Holiday Issue 2007. Available from http://aaronlazar.com/. Accessed 14 September 2009

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Manny Azenberg, Theater Producer

By Nathaniel Hill

Emanuel “Manny” Azenberg is one of the most accomplished producers in Broadway history. Born in 1934 in the Bronx, Mr. Azenberg first began his career on Broadway in 1965 after leaving the army, when he company managed The Impossible Years. Since then he has presented more than 68 shows in Broadway, including all of Neil Simon’s plays since 1972.  At last count, his productions had garnered a total of 134 Tony Award nominations and 42 Tony awards.

Chances area, you have read or seen a popular play because Mr. Azenberg gave the project the green light.  His hits have included Movin’ Out, The Wiz, The Odd Couple, The Iceman Cometh, Long Days Journey Into Night, Lost in Yonkers, Sunday in the Park with George, Side Show, Simon’s Eugene Trilogy and finally Rent, which he general managed but did not produce.

Mr. Azenberg is producing three projects set to open on Broadway this fall.  The first is a unique repertory project called The Neil Simon Plays (or the Eugene Trilogy), which is comprised of Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, two semiautobiographical plays by Simon that focus on a young Jewish man in Brooklyn in the mid-twentieth century.   The second is a revival of the 1998 Americana musical Ragtime, which Mr. Azenberg is bringing from Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center to Broadway.

Mr. Azenberg taught at Duke from the late 1980s until last year.  For one semester each year, he flew from New York to Durham about three times a month and instructed a theater seminar.  In this personal interview with Manny, he describes his class (and much more).  He established a connection with Duke after having taught at NYU and Yale when his daughter attended Duke in the 1990s.  Manny has five children and is married to Lani Azenberg; together they operate Iron Mountain Productions, his company.

Check out this article on Manny’s career and his Jewish faith.

This fall Manny will present on Broadway a revival of the Americana musical Ragtime.

This fall Manny will present on Broadway a revival of the Americana musical 'Ragtime.'

Manny is also producing revivals of Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, which will open this fall

Manny is also producing revivals of Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, which will open this fall

Emanuel Azenberg. Wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. N.p.  2 Jun 2009. Web. 5 Sept. 2009.

Jones, Kenneth. “Playbill on-line’s brief encounter with Emanuel Azenberg.” Playbill.com. N.p. 27 Jan 2004. Web. 5 Sept. 2009.

Rothstein, Mervyn. “A Life in the Theatre: Emanuel Azenberg.” Playbill.com. N.p. 2008. Web. 5 Sept. 2009.

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Emanuel ‘Manny’ Azenberg

Manny
By Maya Robinson

Have the emotions and images conveyed on stage ever been a transcendent, life-changing experience for you? Fourteen-year-old Emanuel “Manny” Azenberg had such an experience while in the audience of Skipper Next to God starring John Garfield and directed by Jan De Hartog. After meeting John Garfield, Azenberg realized the stage was his world and his calling. He dreamed of becoming part of theater and that is exactly what he did. Azenberg has been nominated for 174 Tony awards and has won 42 Tony Awards for his stage production.

Azenberg has produced shows such as Odd Couple, MacBeth, Mark Twain Tonight!, Broadway Bound, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Movin’ Out and was the General Manager of Rent. When asked how he chooses his plays he quoted on of the many Neil Simon plays he has produced, ‘Remember, it has to be about something’. He only produces plays that move him; the titles above, and indeed all of his plays, are all about something relevant to society that move him and others to think.

Azenberg believes “a producer creates an atmosphere – or tries to – that is genuinely comfortable, so the best creative work can take place. You try to keep peace…” He has mastered the art of producing plays. Azenberg has produced a variety of plays from originals to revivals; from plays to musicals, not all producers are able to switch genres and find success. Azenberg produces under the name Iron Mountain Productions, which he owns and oversees.

Azenberg career has not been limited to producing. He also works to bring theater to students as a teacher. Azenberg taught theater at Duke University for 20 years. He had his students rip off the first page of the play before reading it; thereby allowing and encouraging the students to give him a visceral and personal response to the play.

Azenberg is now 74 and has been working on Broadway for at least 50 years. He is married to Lani Azenberg and has five children.

¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬”Playbill On-line’s Brief Encounter with Emanuel Azenberg.” Interview by Kenneth Jones.
PLAYBILL. 27 Jan. 2004. Web. 5 Sept. 2009.
Rothstein, Mervyn. “A Life in the Theater: Emanuel (Manny) Azenberg.” All about Jewish
Theater.Web.5 Sept. 2009.

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