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“Late Night with Leonard Bernstein” Celebrates the Talented Insomniac

By Lindsey DeRoche; For The Clock
On April 21, 2017

“Late Night with Leonard Bernstein” is a captivating production that offers a glimpse into the mind of a true American artist. The multi-media performance reveals Bernstein’s personal creative process and his rituals and habits during the later hours of the night. It played earlier this month at PSU’s Hanaway Theatre.

Leonard Bernstein was a renowned American composer and conductor.  His music was featured in productions such as “West Side Story,” “On the Town” and the 1950 version of “Peter Pan.”

Bernstein passed away in 1990. He is routinely celebrated in this production as it tours around the country. The program is hosted by his daughter Jamie, one of his three children. The program got its name from the fact that Bernstein was an insomniac who would stay up many hours into the night while crafting his work.

Audiences heard pieces by Bernstein such  as “Ain’t Got No Tears Left,” “Some Other Time” and “For Aaron Stern.” Other pieces by different composers, which Bernstein enjoyed, were also played.

Pianists John Musto and Michael Boriskin played piano for all of the necessary pieces, and vocals were provided by professional singer Amy Burton.

Bernstein’s daughter narrated the entire performance, guiding the audience along on a trip that she said was an attempt to probe her father’s mind. She told parts of Bernstein’s life stories and provided personal anecdotes about her father that only a close relative would know.

Pictures of Bernstein throughout his career were projected for the audience, and there were brief instances of actual video and audio of him.

The audio was a voice recording to a friend with whom he was artistically collaborating, sharing his latest piano creation.. The video showed Bernstein in the latter portion of his life, performing a cover of Marc Blitzstein’s song “Zipperfly.”

Before the video, Bernstein’s daughter said that her father “couldn’t sing for beans.” She said he always wished to be a talented singer, and that he would have traded all of his talent as a musician to be a skilled singer.

The cover of “Zipperfly” was the only part of the show in which the audience watched Bernstein himself play or sing, and his passion for the music he was performing was both blatant and touching. 

Before the last portion of the show, Bernstein’s daughter said, “Even for an insomniac, bed has to come sometime.”

The production ended with a lullaby/goodbye portion, beginning with “Little Smary,” a lullaby Bernstein’s mother told him as a child, which he later set to music. This was followed by “Lullaby for JZ,” a song Bernstein had wrote for an unknown recipient. The show concluded with “Some Other Time” from the musical “On the Town.”

For more information on upcoming events at the Silver Center, visit www.plymouth.edu/silver-center.

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