Friday, June 12 at 3:00 p.m., The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, the arts center of the Archdiocese of New York, presents Poetry In America – Live featuring “Finishing The Hat” by Stephen Sondheim. The free streaming event can be viewed online at www.SheenCenter.org or on The Sheen Center’s Facebook Live or YouTube channels.
In celebration of his 90th birthday, Poetry in America – Live will turn the spotlight on Stephen Sondheim’s song “Finishing The Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George. With panelists participating from the socially- distanced comfort of their own homes, this live event will celebrate the work of Sondheim through performance of his songs and discussion of the lyrics to this particular song. PBS’s “Poetry in America” host Elisa New welcomes Tony Award nominee Melissa Errico and New Yorker staff writer, New Yorker writer and author Adam Gopnik, and noted musical director Tedd Firth. Errico, who starred in Sunday in the Park, at The Kennedy Center, will perform three songs from Sunday, including “Finishing the Hat,” accompanied by Firth.
“Poetry in America” is a series produced by Verse Video Education and presented by WGBH, airing nationally on PBS. Every episode offers the viewer a fully immersive experience in hearing, reading, and discussing a single American poem by gathering distinguished interpreters from all walks of life to explore and debate unforgettable American works. Athletes, poets, politicians, musicians, architects, scientists, actors, entrepreneurs, and citizens of all ages join together with host and Harvard professor Elisa New to experience and share the power of poetry.
Poetry In America – Live featuring “Finishing The Hat” by Stephen Sondheim is just one of the many offerings streamed online by The Sheen Center while current circumstances prevent gathering together in the Loreto or Black Box Theaters on BleeckerStreet.
Apart from stand alone special events like this, The Sheen Center has taken its mission digital with its recently launched “Faith, Hope and Love” series. The new series offers online content, every weekday, inspired by the virtues that sustain us with the intention of drawing audiences together through the arts. Weekly programming in the “Faith, Hope and Love” series consists of the following:
Contemplative Tuesdays – A social media campaign showcasing beautiful, sacred images from The Sheen Center Gallery’s critically-acclaimed exhibitions as well as the work of artists-in-residence, with accompanying reflections.
Live Stream Wednesdays – New weekly programming featuring timely and insightful interviews with thought leaders from the arts, religion and culture; virtual sneak peeks of upcoming movies; and more.
Feel Good Fridays – A musical uplift to carry you into the weekend from global musicians and singers from a variety of genres.
For more information about upcoming programming, please visit www.SheenCenter.org.
The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (www.sheencenter.org) is a New York City arts center located in NoHo that presents a vibrant mix of theater, film, music, art and talk events. The arts center of the Archdiocese of New York, The Sheen Center serves all New Yorkers by presenting performances and artists that reflect the true, the good, and the beautiful. Named for the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, best remembered as an inspirational author, radio host and two-time Emmy Award-winning television personality, The Sheen Center reflects his modern-day approach to contemporary topics. The Sheen Center is a state-of-the-art theater complex that includes the 270-seat off-Broadway Loreto Theater, equipped with five-camera high- definition TV and live-stream capability and a multi-track recording studio; the 80-seat off-off-Broadway Black Box Theater; four rehearsal studios; and an art gallery.
ABOUT THE PARTICIPATING ARTISTS
MELISSA ERRICO. “The best all-Sondheim album ever recorded, in which radiantly warm singing and sensitive, intelligent interpretation are tightly and inseparably entwined” — that was the Wall Street Journal’s heartfelt verdict on Melissa Errico’s 2019 album, “Sondheim Sublime.” After multiple sold-out engagements in New York, San Francisco, London, Washington DC and more, the Tony Award-nominated singer, actress and writer (frequent New York Times columnist) Melissa Errico brings her gorgeous voice, and a unique and unpredictable intelligence, wit and mischief to the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim on PBS “Poetry in America.” Of her touring Sondheim concert, The New York Times has said “she sings beautifully. Her familiarity with the way the songs work to advance character and story in vivo naturally informs her in vitro style, which is actorly to begin with. An attention to the lyrics and their rush of harsh ‘wisdoms’ was Ms. Errico’s keynote. She refreshed cabaret staples, and lightly jazzed others, demonstrating how the meaning that is locked in tiny verbal gestures can be released with bold phrasing.” Errico’s history with Sondheim began when he selected her to star as Dot in Sunday In The Park With George at The Kennedy Center, and then she starred in acclaimed New York productions as Clara in Passion and Leona in Do I Hear A Waltz? Melissa is also known as one of the foremost interpreters of the music of the late Michel Legrand, multiple Oscar/winning film and jazz composer, and has a 2020 concert tour of his music. www.legrandaffairdeluxe.com
TEDD FIRTH is a New York City based musical director, pianist and arranger. As musical director and accompanist he has worked with Bernadette Peters, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein, Maureen McGovern, Marilyn Maye, Elaine Paige, Tom Wopat, Leslie Uggams, Joshua Bell, Tony DeSare, Linda Lavin, Christine Ebersole, Lucie Arnaz, Lee Ann Womack, Faith Prince, John Schneider, Betty Buckley, Karen Akers, Mary Cleere Haran, Margaret Whiting, Carol Sloane and of course, Melissa Errico. Among the jazz musicians he has performed or recorded with are John Pizzarelli, Houston Person, Frank Wess, Mark Whitfield, Red Holloway, Benny Golson and Joe Morello. Recent highlights include being the musical director for the reunion of the original Broadway cast of “Into The Woods” at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts in Costa Mesa, CA as well as serving as musical director for Michael Feinstein’s “Jazz and Popular Song” concert series at Jazz at Lincoln Center. New York appearances include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Blue Note, Birdland, the Iridium, the Algonquin, the Cafe Carlyle and Feinstein’s at the Regency. Numerous national appearances include a performance at the White House. As an arranger and orchestrator, Tedd’s work has been performed by all major American symphony orchestras as well as Liza Minnelli. In 2013, Tedd was commissioned by the New York Pops to create new orchestrations for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” which has had numerous performances across the country in subsequent years. Television appearances include “The Today Show,” “Live From Lincoln Center” and “All My Children.”
ADAM GOPNIK has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. During his more than thirty years at the magazine, he has written hundreds of essays, from personal memoirs to reviews and profiles, along with much reporting from abroad, along with fiction, humor and art criticism. His books, ranging from essay collections about Paris and food to children’s novels, include Paris to the Moon, The King in the Window, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York, Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, and Winter: Five Windows on the Season (Fiftieth Anniversary Massey Lecture) , At The Strangers’ Gate and most recently A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism. Gopnik has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism three times, as well as the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In March 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Republic. Two months later, he received a honoris causa from his alma mater, McGill University, and that same year also received an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design. His work in the musical theater includes the libretto and lyrics for the musical comedy “Our Table” with David Shire, and for the oratorio “Sentences“ with Nico Muhly. He lives in New York with his wife, Martha Parker, and their two children, varyingly present, Luke and Olivia.
ELISA NEW is the Director and Host of Poetry in America, director of Verse Video Education, and the Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in classic American literature from the Puritans through the present day. New created Poetry in America, a public television series, to bring the pleasure of poetry beyond classrooms into living rooms and onto screens of all kinds. Presented by Boston’s WGBH, Poetry in America airs on public television stations everywhere, streams on various platforms, and is available in schools and libraries and as part of in-flight entertainment on several airlines. Poetry in America guest interpreters have included Shaquille O’Neal, Bono, Cynthia Nixon, Nas, Joe Biden, Herbie Hancock, Elena Kagan, Robert Pinsky, Sonia Sanchez, Bill Clinton, John McCain, Li-Young Lee, Samantha Power, Adam Gopnik, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Kerry, Katie Couric, and Bill T. Jones, along with exonerated prisoners, clergy, pickup basketball players, young campers at a wildlife preserve, Vietnam veterans, and many more. In tandem with the television series, New produces educational materials on American poetry for all ages—from middle-school students through lifelong learners. These include credit-bearing courses, free MOOCs, and classroom-ready materials for K-12 teachers and their students, distributed by Harvard University, Amplify Education, PBS Learning Media, and Arizona State University. New is the author of numerous articles and four books: The Regenerate Lyric: Theology and Innovation in American Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 1992); The Line’s Eye: Poetic Experience, American Sight (Harvard University Press, 1999); Jacob’s Cane: A Jewish Family’s Journey from the Four Lands of Lithuania to the Ports of London and Baltimore: A Memoir in Five Generations (Basic Books, 2009); and New England Beyond Criticism: In Defense of America’s First Literature, A Wiley Blackwell Manifesto (Wiley Blackwell 2014).
Keith Sherman & Assoc., 212-764-7900, email@example.com