Oklahoma!…….The King & I……..State Fair.……South Pacific.…….Carousel.…….Carmen Jones.…..The Sound of Music
Yes, those are just a few of the award-winning productions of the dearly departed Oscar Hammerstein II, a theater legend (and former Doylestown resident ) whose extraordinary entertainment legacy will certainly last long after we’re all gone.
There’s simply no denying that Hammerstein was a true genius who not only delivered show stopping pieces of life, but he also gave hope for all future show guys and gals of the world.
In fact, one of those Hammerstein dreamin’ gals has now turned into everyone’s favorite award-winning leading local lady, Billboard Adult Contemporary Artist, Ms. Doreen Taylor.
And guess what? In just a couple of weeks (Dec 8th-Dec 17th, to be exact) she’s about to bring all of that Broadway magic to life once more with AN ENCHANTED EVENING: A NIGHT WITH OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II, a riveting new doc-musical that will be taking over the 777 Theatre at the Roy Arias Theater Center for what’s already shaping up to be a truly special engagement.
Not only will fans get treated with the window/soul shattering gifts provided by the vocal prowess of the red-hot chanteuse, but we’ll also get to peak into some personal stories and rarely seen videos of Hammerstein‘s private life. This is certainly thanks in part to Taylor’s budding creative relationship with Oscar’s grandson, William Hammerstein (which he absolutely loves the show, by the way), all to give the audience an intimate glimpse into the late creative mastermind’s magnetic force that will certainly never be reckoned with.
Did we mention that renowned Broadway star, Davis Gaines, whom some of you (okay…all) know from show-stopping performances in Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd and Man of La Mancha? Yes.
But what makes this show truly special (as if getting “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” stuck in your head once more isn’t enough), is that Taylor has also teamed up with The Oscar Hammerstein 11 Museum & Theatre Education Center for her new venture.
Together they’ll be raising funds to help save Highland Farm in Doylestown, a legendary piece of local property where Hammerstein resided for nearly twenty years and created some his most magnificent work. He even schooled a young Stephen Sondheim who was once and famously spilled, “In one afternoon at Highland Farm, I learned more about songwriting and musical theatre, than most people learn in a lifetime.”
Unfortunately, the historic lot is being threatened by a sub division, and it’s Taylor’s mission with this show to not only restore the Hammerstein house for tours and prospects for a museum, but she wants to remind all of us with those extraordinary pipes of hers just how magical Hammerstein’s body of work will continue to be and how it can still move you to do extraordinary things…just like she’s doing with her already stunning new entertainment venture.
And If you would like more information about Highland Farm and the legacy of Oscar Hammerstein II, you should absolutely check this out.
But absolutely first…..take a lovely seat and warm up with a hot cup of Off Broadway tea because Ms. Taylor stopped by the Philly Mixtape table to spill about it all, including how her new project came to light, how she’s made it through an icky year for all of us, and most importantly…why everyone in the world should go see An Enchanted Evening.
Which you absolutely should and you can get tickets right here.
Now, let’s spill.
Okay, so……first order of business in our little Off Broadway tea………how the hell are you feeling as you’re leading up to the big opening night in just a couple of weeks!? Gotta say, It’s still pretty surreal. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes that it is hard for me to just sit back and think about how huge this all is. Maybe that is good- I don’t have time for doubts or nerves!
Break a couple of tea mugs for everyone about how this soon-to-be extraordinary show came to glorious light. And also, what does doing this show mean to you personally? I first met Will Hammerstein (Oscar Hammerstein’s grandson) and his family at my “Unstoppable” music video premiere in March of 2017. We started talking and I learned that Highland Farm in Doylestown, PA (where Oscar lived and wrote all the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals) was being threatened by a four lot subdivision and on the verge of being torn down. Long story short, I came up with the idea to create this new show “An Enchanted Evening” to not only help raise awareness, but to also help raise the necessary funds to save the farm and subsequently turn it into a place where Oscar can be remembered (a museum) and also a place where young artists can be mentored (Theatre Education). I started my career in opera and musical theatre and this is an extremely important cause to me.
I can imagine this show is a lot of pressure and maybe quite a bit of nerves for you. What do you personally do calm your nerves before each moment in the spotlight? Sometimes the smaller, more intimate things freak me out more than the big performances. I don’t have a secret formula to calm the nerves- I just typically spend about 5 or 10 minutes alone in my dressing room before a show, warm up a little both vocally and mentally and I say a little prayer before hitting the stage. At the point I hit that mark on stage, I let the hours, weeks, months and years of practice take over and I just let the art take over.
So, there’s an elephant in the room that we just can’t avoid……2017. In the words of Ms. Annie, it’s certainly been a hard knock year for all of us. As a creative artist, what did you personally do to get through these shitty times that have seemed to plague us the last almost 365 days? Professionally I have to say that it has been a very good year from me. I don’t like to dwell too much on the negative because by doing so, you give it the chance to take over and derail you from your real purpose in life. I think that is the key- we all struggle, but we have to find a way to find the positive in every situation that is thrown at us. We have to realize that no matter how shitty life may be at this very moment, there are always more people who are in a much shittier place.
I just have to know……..have you had a chance to sit down at all this year? No, not really! Like a lot of the people out there, I have a hard time decompressing–especially when there is so much going on. I do TRY to set aside some “me” time but to be honest, I simply love what I do and although on the surface it appears to be “work”, to me- it is therapeutic at times. Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”- and I have to say, that is spot on…..even if it does sound like a bad fortune cookie!
We also can’t deny that the holidays are, like, here, and I’m sure you’ll be playing some of your favorite grooves! What are some holiday albums you can’t live without? Gotta say, I am really not much into the Christmas spirit yet. I think it has a lot to do with corporations pushing Christmas earlier and earlier each year. Thanksgiving has almost become the new pre-party to Christmas and it’s lost all meaning. I know everyone wants to make money- and to that end, I will have to say that my original song “My Christmas Wish” is my favorite holiday groove. How’s that for shameless self promotion?!!!
So…just a few more sips….with one being–why should everyone in the whole entire world go see your spectacular new Off Broadway show? Why not? It’s a wonderful, new innovative musical experience that has creatively combined curated historical content (video footage, interviews, photos, etc) into a spectacular visual presentation that is then interwoven with over 30 reimagined musical performances of Oscar Hammerstein’s greatest songs highlighting his journey to become musical theatre’s greatest lyricist of all time. Not only is the audience thoroughly entertained, but they also leave the theater learning something too! So far it seems very well received from theater-goers and critics alike. Plus, we are playing in the heart of Broadway and it benefits the Oscar Hammerstein II Museum and Theatre Education Center to help save Highland Farm! Win, win….win!
Lastly…..describe it all in just one word. One-of-a-kind! It’s hyphenated so I am sticking to that!
For much, much more with the lovely Doreen Taylor, get down to her official website right here.