Musical theatre song-writing icon Jerry Herman will celebrate his 80th birthday on July 10 2011. Strangely this landmark seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the UK theatre community but Herman and his impressive catalogue of work will be paid due homage by Leanne Masterton in a cabaret at the Jermyn Street Theatre.
The octogenarian is a two-time Tony Award winner for Best Music and Lyrics for his scores for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage Aux Folles - and he received a third Tony for Lifetime Achievement in 2009. He also penned the songs for the Broadway musicals Milk And Honey, Mame, Dear World, The Grand Tour and Mack And Mabel as well as the TV musical Mrs. Santa Claus.
Leanne Masterton is no stranger to the work of Mr Herman. She first performed her highly acclaimed cabaret tribute to the Master - Hello, Jerry! - at Jermyn Street in 2007 and, by popular demand, revived the show at the Leicester Square Theatre and at the Henley Fringe Festival in 2009. Her debut solo CD album - a collection of Jerry Herman classics and lesser known gems, Before The Parade Passes By - was released in 2007 on the Dress Circle label and caused Herman's lifelong friend and musical director Don Pippin to describe her as "a wonderful new voice".
Now Leanne and her team (Leigh Thompson - MD and Katherine Hare - Director) are back by request at the original venue celebrating the great man's 80th birthday. She will be joined by special guest and fellow Welsh lass Sarah Lark. Lark created the role of "Little Girl" in Cameron Mackintosh's production of The Witches Of Eastwick in 2000 before gaining fame as a finalist in BBC's I'd Do Anything reality search for a Nancy for Cameron Mackintosh's production of Oliver! in 2008. She later went on to understudy and play the role of Nancy at Drury Lane and has since performed in numerous concerts as well as playing the title role in the pantomime Snow White at the Swansea Grand Theatre.
The show will feature brand new material never before performed in the UK. Jerry and Don have sent Leanne some music from the revised Dear World which has neither been published nor recorded. So the show's audience will be privileged to hear these premiere renditions of new Herman songs, performances which Masterton describes as "quite a responsibility".
The Jermyn Street show will be the only celebration of Jerry Herman's music to be performed on the date of his 80th birthday (even the New York tribute isn't happening until October). So it's a great coup for performers Leanne Masterton and Sarah Lark and for the Jermyn Street Theatre to be singing "Happy birthday, Jerry!" on that auspicious day.
Hello, Jerry! Happy 80th Birthday Cabaret:
Location: Jermyn Street Theatre.
Date: Sunday 10th July 2011
Time: 4pm and 7.30pm
Box Office: 020 7287 2875