Volume 18 • Issue 38 | February 3 - 9, 2006

‘Love n’ Courage’

By Jerry Tallmer

April in Paris, February on First Avenue.

Monday, February 13, to be exact, when Crystal Field’s Theater for the New City, First Avenue and 10th Street, holds its 3rd annual “Love n’ Courage” champagne-supper bash, this one celebrating the life and lyrics of the great E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, whose “April in Paris” was the other side of his bitter, poignant Depression-era “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” coin.

Those and various others of the more than 500 songs to which Harburg put penetrating or poetic words, or both — “Over the Rainbow” and “When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich,” just for two — will be sung that night at TNC by such glittering talent as Catherine Russell, Stephen Bogardus, Mary Cleere Haran, Charles Busch, and Harburg’s teenage grandson Ben, who will tackle the exquisite “Paper Moon.”

Ben’s parents, Ernie and Deena Harburg, are sponsors of the evening, some of which benefits TNC’s Emerging Playwrights Program and $25 of which will go toward the regeneration of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.

Charles Busch and Julie Halston will emcee the gala event, which also features a jazz quartet flown up from New Orleans and headed by singer Troi Bechet, a relative by marriage of the late Sidney Bechet.

Kitty Carlisle Hart, who was born in New Orleans, will be among the speakers. Betsy Von Furstenberg is chairwoman of the “Love ’n Courage” committee. David Brunetti is the musical director.

Why Love ’n Courage?

Says Crystal Field, who with then husband George Bartenieff founded TNC at Westbeth in 1971, and has long been doing wonderful free summer street shows throughout the five boroughs: “Because it also means ‘encourage.’ ”

Why Yip Harburg?

“Because he was Broadway’s social conscience.”

In 1986 TNC moved to its home on First Avenue that now houses four theaters working all the time. How many shows do you figure TNC’s done first and last, Crystal, to date?

“I have no idea. Somebody — maybe it was you — once wrote ‘more than 800,’ but that was a few years ago.”

Reservations ($150) are available to the public at (212) 254-1109, or www.theaterforthenewcity.net, or at the door.


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