O Moon of Alabama: A Kurt Weill Cabaret

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Actor and creator Walter Van Dyk speaks about the work he will do at Yellow Barn during an Artist Residency this May:

The idea really started way back in 1980 when I saw Alvin Epstein and Martha Schlamme perform Kurt Weill together at the Loeb Drama Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Alvin had just directed me in the American Repertory Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and I also stayed on to do Brecht and Weill's  Happy End in the same season. It took about 10 years before I decided to put my own compilation show of Weill's songs together, and it kicked off a relationship with performing Weill songs over the past 20 years. 

Originally the Kurt Weill Cabaret which I devised was with a pianist and three other actor/singers, and the first performance took place on the London fringe in a suitably grotty pub theatre. We received such excellent notices by the London press that we ended up being asked to perform it by David Thacker at the Young Vic and taking it to Amsterdam for a three week run at the Stadsschouwburg.

After we disbanded, I met Liza Sadovy when we performed a German cabaret together called Send for Mr. Plim by Mischa Spoliansky (a contemporary of Kurt Weill's). At the time, I had said to Liza that I wanted to revive the Kurt Weill, and would she be interested in joining me as a duo. To my delight, she accepted and we ended up performing it in the West End, and also most recently in the UK at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Every time Liza and I come back to the show, we enjoy discovering new layers. As we've always performed the evening with just a pianist, we were completely thrilled at Seth Knopp's suggestion of doing this compilation show of Kurt Weill songs with a full ensemble comprising nine Yellow Barn musicians. Michael Haslam, our pianist and collaborator over the years, is currently making arrangements of all the songs specifically for this ensemble of musicians. We are all extremely excited at the prospect of mounting this performance of O Moon of Alabama: A Kurt Weill Cabaret in the United States, first in Putney and then in Dallas. We hope that as many people will come from miles around to celebrate and appreciate these stunning songs by one of the truly great cabaret composers, Kurt Weill.

Find out more about this residency performance

Song list:

Overture to The Threepenny Opera
Mack The Knife from Threepenny Opera
Barbara Song from Threepenny Opera
Liebeslied from Threepenny Opera
Tango Ballad Threepenny Opera
Alabama Song from The Rise and Fall of the House of Mahagonny
Herr Jacob Schmidt from Mahagonny
Pirate Jenny from Threepenny Opera
My Ship from Lady in the Dark
September Song from Knickerbocker Holiday
That's Him from One Touch of Venus
Tchaikovsky from  Lady in the Dark
Moon Faced—Starry Eyed from Street Scene
Surabaya Johnny from Happy End
Lonely House from Street Scene
Sailor's Tango from Happy End
Bilbau Song from Happy End