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'Tonight at Eight' Salutes Broadway Great Sheldon Harnick

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June 17, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The world premiere musical revue "Tonight at Eight: Saluting Sheldon Harnick" will launch Northwestern University's Summer Music Theatre Festival 2008. Running June 25 to 29, the revue pays tribute to one of Northwestern's most distinguished alumni, Broadway lyricist and composer Sheldon Harnick.

Harnick has provided lyrics to some of Broadway's most memorable musicals, including "Fiorello!" (1959), "She Loves Me" (1963), "Fiddler on the Roof" (1964), "The Apple Tree" (1966), "The Rothschilds" (1970) and more. He also has composed music and lyrics for several Broadway and Off-Broadway revues as well as the musical "A Wonderful Life" (1986).

Conceived and directed by Dominic Missimi, director of Northwestern's Music Theatre Program, "Tonight at Eight: Saluting Sheldon Harnick," will be performed at 8 p.m. June 25; 8 p.m. June 26; 8 p.m. June 27; 2 and 8 p.m. June 28; and 2 p.m. June 29, in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University's Evanston campus.

"This world premiere musical revue promises to be an exuberant and entertaining homage to one of Northwestern's most illustrious graduates," said Missimi.
"It recognizes Sheldon Harnick's enormous output and impact and the quality of his work for the American music theatre. In 'Fiddler on the Roof' alone, we have one of the most important musicals in the last 50 years. While he made his bread and butter and fame as a lyricist, we are also honoring him as a composer by spotlighting musicals that feature his music."

Missimi's new 90-minute revue will feature a 12-member cast of Northwestern music theatre students performing all of Harnick's major songs. The revue features "Little Tin Box," "When Did I Fall in Love," "I Love a Cop" and "Till Tomorrow," all from the musical "Fiorello!," as well as "Tradition," "Matchmaker," "Do You Love Me" and "Far From Home" from "Fiddler on the Roof." Songs from "She Loves Me," "Dragons" and "The Rothschilds" also are on the program.

Audiences will hear some lesser known works, including "Suave Young Man," a tune Harnick wrote for the 1950 Northwestern University "Waa Mu Show," and "Boston Beguine," a song featured in Leonard Sillman's revue titled New Faces of 1952.

"Tonight at Eight" will feature two previously unreleased songs that Harnick wrote for "Fiddler on the Roof" -- "Dear Sweet Sewing Machine" and "Any Day Now." Both were originally intended for the stage and film versions of the production, but were omitted from the production score. They will be performed for the public for the first time at the Louis Theater.

Harnick was born in Chicago and graduated from Northwestern's School of Music in 1949. During his Northwestern years he studied the violin, played in the "Waa-Mu Show" orchestra and contributed lyrics and music to the 1947, 1948 and 1949 "Waa-Mu Show" productions prior to his numerous professional achievements in musical theatre. Since his student days his works have been featured in nine other Waa-Mu shows.

The majority of Harnick's songs were composed with his long-time musical partner Jerry Bock ("She Loves Me," 1963, "The Apple Tree," 1966 and many others). Harnick also collaborated with composers Michel Legrand ("The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," 1964), Richard Rodgers ("Rex," 1976), and Joe Raposo ("A Wonderful Life," 1986).

Now in his 80s, Harnick resides in New York with his actress wife Margery Gray. He is working on an opera and a new musical.

Harnick plans to attend the June 27 performance of "Tonight at Eight." During his June Evanston campus visit, he will be recognized for his contribution to the American musical theater during a private tribute luncheon and will attend a performance of his "Fiorello" at the Timeline Theatre in Chicago.

In addition to "Tonight at Eight," Northwestern's Summer Music Theatre Festival 2008 will present the world premiere of the American Music Theatre Project's (AMTP) "Dangerous Beauty" (July 25 to Aug. 17), a musical romance set in Renaissance Venice featuring Jenny Powers and Hollis Resnik with book by Jeannine Dominy, music by Michele Brourman, lyrics by Amanda McBroom and choreography by Robert LaFosse. Directed by Sheryl Kaller, "Dangerous Beauty" is based on the book "The Honest Courtesan" by Margaret Rosenthal and the New Regency motion picture "Dangerous Beauty" screenplay by Jeannine Dominy.

In association with the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, performances of a workshop production of a world premiere musical, "The Bowery Boys" (July 9 to 27), loosely based on the "rags-to-riches" works of 19th century American author Horatio Alger Jr., will take place at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, located in the University's Theatre and Interpretation Center.

In addition to the festival's three world premieres, A Celebration of Johnny Mercer will conclude the Summer Music Theatre Festival 2008. Available on a single-ticket basis, this celebration includes three exclusive events: a lecture demonstration by American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Music Theatre Director Michael Kerker (Aug. 14); Northwestern University's annual Songwriters Showcase (Aug. 15); and a special one-night only performance featuring Heather Headley, Andrew Lippa, Lari White, Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael and students of the Northwestern Music Theatre Program (Aug. 16) that will take place on the University's Evanston campus.

Subscription prices for the first three shows ("Tonight at Eight," "The Bowery Boys" and "Dangerous Beauty") are $72 for the general public; $67 for seniors 65 and older and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $25 for full-time students. Single tickets will go on sale June 13.

Single tickets to the June 25 to 29 performances of "Tonight at Eight: Saluting Sheldon Harnick" are $25 for the general public; $23 for seniors 65 and older and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for full-time students.

For ticket information, call (847) 491-7282. Online ticket sales are available at http://www.tic.northwestern.edu/tickets.php.