There’s more that goes on behind the doors of St. Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts than just music.
While it presents stunning theatrical performances, beautiful opera and orchestral music and a glimpse of artists around the world, it also teaches audiences and fosters creativity.
This is perhaps best seen in its Broadway Songbook series.
The Broadway Songbook is the brain child of Ordway Vice President of Programming and Producing Artistic Director James A. Rocco.
Rocco takes a part of Broadway history, be it composure, genre or era, and highlights some of the best songs while explaining the importance of each piece to the audience.
The cast is small – just four to eight individuals – and made up of local performers. And the pieces range from solos to duets to full group numbers.
The setting is intimate. The audience sits near to the performers, each dressed in formal attire versus a costume. The set consist of a few stools and/or tables seated around a piano, with a few string instruments and some percussion behind.
The lights are set so that the performers can see all of the audience members, who are often invited to sing along during large group numbers or finales.
Previously, Rocco has devoted Songbooks to Comden & Green, the 1950s, the Gershwins and the first 100 years of Broadway. He shares both unknown and favorite tunes of the era that are intertwined with stories about the songs and composers.
For their 2015 – 2016 season, the Ordway is continuing to showcase Rocco’s creativity by sharing the Broadway Songbook series.
The first one, The ’70s Songbook, will take place this weekend, followed by Kander & Ebb in June.
Broadway Songbook – The ’70s Songbook opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Ordway. It runs through Sunday, Oct. 11. For more information on the Broadway Songbook series, or to purchase tickets, visit the Ordway online.