A Broadway review

Published 6:01 am Monday, September 29, 2014

    Broadway Songbook

Broadway Songbook

The Ordway Theatre is bringing history to Austin, in the form of broadway.

“We’re really excited,” Producing Artistic Director James Rocco said about coming to Austin.

Rocco is the director, host and one of the writers for the musical “Broadway Songbook: The First 100 Years of Broadway,” which is set to come to the Historic Paramount Theatre on Oct. 9. He, along with Raymond Berg and Albert Evans, wrote the show, which is a combination of a concert and a symposium, according to Rocco.

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“It’s like a living room chat,” Rocco said. “It’s more a bunch of friends having fun together and sharing a bunch of knockout songs.”

The broadway series showcases the history of American musical theater by taking a journey through the first 100 years of Broadway. “Broadway Songbook” includes classics from the early years to the Golden Age, including songs from popular shows like “Annie Get Your Gun,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Music Man,” “Show Boat,” “Oklahoma!,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Gypsy,” and more.

The show focuses on the 1920s, the Great Depression, World War I and World War II, and the Civil Rights era.

“The series is one of the most popular series here at Ordway,” Rocco said. “[People] learn about social and cultural impact musical theater had on America. It really is a wide range of material.”

Executive Director for the Paramount Theatre Jennie Knoebel is excited about the show.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for our community, so we just worked together to make it happen,” Knoebel said.

Rocco added, “Austin came forward and said they wanted it, and I thought, what a perfect place to go.”

Knoebel is particularly excited the show revolves around how musical theater developed from the interaction of different immigrants that came to New York.

“This one’s focusing on the birth of broadway and it’s looking specifically at the effect that immigration had on musical theater as we know it,” Knoebel said. “I thought it was a great tie-in to the Austin community.”

She hopes people will be able to learn about the issues immigrants have faced over the many years.

“The faces have changed, but a lot of the challenges and issues that immigrants face have been there through history,” Knoebel said.

Despite the history included, Rocco said the show is done in a fun way.

“It has a very humorous approach,” he said.

He enjoys to watch people experiencing the show for the first time.

“It’s just fantastic to see people who thought that broadway had nothing to do with them realize that this music is part of their lives,” Rocco said. “You don’t realize you know these songs.”

The Paramount Theatre has hosted similar theater groups.

“A lot of times it’s just been when opportunities have presented themselves and when the show they’re presenting has been a good fit for our community,” Knoebel said.

Although the Ordway has not been to the Paramount Theatre before, Knoebel has heard good reviews.

“They always put on high quality performances, so I’m expecting good things,” she said.

Although there isn’t anything set in stone, if the upcoming performance goes well, Knoebel said the Paramount may look to host the theatre group again.

“We don’t have anything solidified yet, but potentially,” she said about bringing the group back.

The show is family friendly and open to all age groups. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 9, and tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.