When Hoagy Carmichael was honored at a June 1979 Newport Jazz Festival in New York concert at Carnegie Hall, he confessed to the audience that, “I heard so many songs I didn’t think I wrote that I wanted to see if I was in the right hall.” That’s because the concert, in addition to including his well-known hits such as “Stardust” and “Georgia on My Mind”, also featured many of his lesser-known compositions.
The same could be said of Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road, presented from November 22-December 31, 2022, by the York Theatre Company at New York’s Theatre of St. Jeans. Carmichael’s hits were interspersed with a number of tunes, such as “A World of No Goodbyes” and “Serenade to Gabriel”, which were probably unknown to even the biggest Carmichael fan.
As previously reported (“Editor’s Choice”, Jersey Jazz, November 2022), Carmichael’s music was divided into four time periods: the 1920s, New York in the ‘30s, the war years of the ‘40s, and Hollywood of the ‘50s – told musically by seven friends.
What made the show work were the performances of an incredibly talented cast. To me, Stardust Road was a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes. I thought the highlights were “Lazy River” danced and sung by Corey Lingner and Sara Esty in the’20s segment and the mixing of of “Skylark” by Esty and “Stardust” Kayla Jenerson at the end of the Hollywood portion. The music was provided by an outstanding sextet, led by Musical Director and Arranger Larry Yurman. A special shout out to the soaring clarinet of Greg Thymius. -SANFORD JOSEPHSON