THIS PRODUCTION HAS NOW BEEN POSTPONED.
Hoagy Carmichael wrote ‘Stardust’, ‘Georgia On My Mind’, ‘The Nearness of You’ and ‘Heart and Soul’, four of the most recorded American songs of all time.
Now these classic melodies, and many more of Oscar-winning Carmichael’s hits, are at the centre of a new musical, Stardust Road, which uses his quintessentially America themes to celebrate the life and loves of America: from the age of jazz, blues and ragtime in the 1920s to the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Stardust Road will get its world premiere, directed by Broadway’s award-winning Susan H Schulman, at St James Theatre, London, from Tuesday 27 October to Saturday 21 November. Press night is Friday 30 October.
With a live band, and a West End cast of amazing singers and dancers, Stardust Road takes a toe-tapping journey capturing the rhythms and mood of early 20th century America, featuring such classic songs as ‘Stardust’ – which first became a hit in 1930 and to date has been recorded more than 2,300 times, ‘Up a Lazy River’, ‘Two Sleepy People’, ‘In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening’, ‘Old Buttermilk Sky’, ‘Skylark’, ‘Riverboat Shuffle’, ‘Old Man Harlem’, ‘Rockin’ Chair’, ‘Memphis in June’, ‘The Nearness of You’, ’I Get Along Without You Very Well’, ‘Huggin’ and Chalkin’ and many more.
Director Susan H Schulman said: “Stardust Road is a musical journey that begins in a young place up a lazy river and grows more sophisticated, more urban and urbane. It’s a journey from innocence to experience, from youth to maturity, from farm to the city and it is travelled with Hoagy Carmichael’s masterful musical score as our constant guide and companion.”
Hoagy B Carmichael, Hoagy’s son and co-producer of Stardust Road, said: “Dad’s ability to find the tempo of America was his God-given talent. He rarely wrote songs for a movie, or an artist. He usually had them lying in the trunk, often waiting for a call from a director, or the right singer or, in many cases, his opportunity to sing and play them himself in movies or stage appearances. Stardust Road has the luxury to reach into this unusual song catalogue, roughly taken from four decades of Dad’s work.
“With period dance, the songs will paint a picture of four remarkable eras in America. They are, the ragtime, jazz and blues era of the 20s, the romance of New York in the 1930s, the powerful emotions of World War II, and songs written for the Golden Age of Hollywood.
“Almost all of the tunes are fresh to musical theatre, and there are several gems that few have heard. He loved to dance, and I can almost see the wry smile of satisfaction were he to have an aisle seat at the St James Theatre for Stardust Road.
“Dad was a sucker for romance, although he hardly wrote about ‘love’, yet I am positive that he will have to turn his practiced ear when he sees how the laughs and longing have been informed by those melodies. Storytelling is in the belly of all of his songs. He will be in the room, in London, listening intently.”
Susan H Schulman (director). Her Broadway shows include Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, the Tony Award-winning The Secret Garden, The Sound of Music and Little Women the musical. For her direction of the highly acclaimed Violet (New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical), Schulman received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Director. She received an Obie Award for directing Merrily We Roll Along. Schulman directed the US national tour of Sunset Boulevard, and has directed six productions for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada and three for City Center Encores, including Boys From Syracuse.
Howard Hoagland ‘Hoagy’ Carmichael was an American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. Born in 1899 in Bloomington, Indiana, he died, aged 82 in 1981 in Rancho Mirage, California. He was raised in humble circumstances, supported by an electrician father, and by the income his mother earned from playing the piano at silent movie showings and local dances.
Growing up, Carmichael was exposed to music not only through his mother, but by listening to jazz artists in the African-American neighbourhood of Bucktown. In 1936, Carmichael moved to California and had songs featured in several films. In 1952, he won the Best Song Academy Award for the song ‘In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening’, from the movie Here Comes the Groom, starring Bing Crosby. Carmichael also made onscreen appearances in films such as To Have and Have Not and The Best Years of Our Lives.
Stardust Road is produced by Hoagy B Carmichael, Robert Mackintosh and Hilary A Williams.