Students from Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music brought their musical talents to Arena Stage in January, during a three-night engagement honoring the life and work of renowned composer, conductor, and musician Leonard Bernstein.
“Bernstein at 100: The Theater Songs of Leonard Bernstein,” was a musical showcase highlighting Bernstein’s most beloved theatrical music, as well as some of his lesser-known works. The show was held as part of a year-long celebration of Bernstein’s life in collaboration with Arena Stage and the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. It took place Jan. 26-28 in Arena Stage’s Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle theatre.
The night included performances from students in the Musical Theatre Division and the Catholic University Symphony Orchestra, as well as professional musicians from the Washington, D.C. region. The special guest artist for the evening was Kurt Boehm, who earned his bachelor of music from Catholic University in 2005.
Pieces performed included songs from “West Side Story,” “ A Party with Comden and Green,” “Wonderful Town,” “Peter Pan,” “The Lark,” “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” and others.
N. Thomas Pedersen, head of the Musical Theatre Division, said the three-night showcase was a wonderful opportunity for students to experience the wide variety of Bernstein’s theatrical music, while also performing on an important Washington stage. This event marked the first time a Catholic University ensemble has performed at Arena Stage.
Pederson also said he had a personal connection with the show, since he had the pleasure of working with Bernstein several times in his career.
“It’s been wonderful to see the students fall in love with this music,” he said. “And it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to celebrate one of the greatest American composers in one of our country’s premiere American theaters.”
This February, the Musical Theatre Division will perform “Bernstein at 100: The Theater Songs of Leonard Bernstein” at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. That performance will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12. No tickets are required and the show will be livestreamed at kennedy-center.org.