Bill is an educator, broadcaster, producer and founder of The Musical Theater Project. As TMTP’s Artistic Director, he has created more than 100 concerts and cabarets that celebrate and share musical theater as a uniquely American art form. His radio programs, “Footlight Parade” and “On the Aisle,” are heard across the country on public radio stations, Public Radio Exchange (prx.org) and Sirius XM Satellite Radio. In 1983, he and New York author Ken Bloom co-founded Harbinger Records, a label that has won critical praise for albums devoted to the American musical and the Great American Songbook; the label is now a division of TMTP. In 2000 he became the first recipient of the Robert Bergman Award for his work in arts education and community outreach. See below for recent posts by Bill Rudman.

COMING JUNE 25: AN AMERICAN HERO

Sunday, June 25 (3 PM) at the Maltz Performing Arts Center (see homepage to take you to our online box office)

By Bill Rudman

One of the best things about my job is that I continue to learn alongside you. 

Such is the case with the concert you’re going to enjoy on June 25. It’s a partnership between TMTP and American Musical Productions, whose founder, Joseph Rubin, has become a good friend. 

We knew each other only by reputation—we both fancy ourselves “experts” in musical theater!—but not long before COVID hit, we had a long breakfast in New York, and we resolved to work on a project together. It took three years, but here we are… 

It also took some some time to agree on a theme; Joseph’s expertise is in a period just a bit earlier than mine. We settled on George M. Cohan, who is indisputably the father of American musical comedy, and to tell the truth, Nancy Maier and I have wanted to do a Cohan concert for years. Just think “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

What we got in Joseph was not only expertise and first-rate musicianship but also the original orchestrations, so that you’ll be hearing exactly what Broadway audiences heard in the early years of the 20th century. Which is, in a word, thrilling. 

We hope this begins a longtime collaboration between our two organizations. We were meant for each other. And by the way, I learned a lot! 

Bacharach on Broadway

By Bill Rudman

There were so many written tributes paid to Burt Bacharach, who left us February 8 at the age of 95, that I would feel no need to add my own words now were it not for the paucity of space given to one of his finest projects: his only Broadway score, Promises, Promises (1968), with lyrics, as usual, by the agile and underrated Hal David.

Bacharach came out of Tin Pan Alley in the 1950s, then quickly rose to household-name status over the next 10 years with one pop hit after another — so many of them introduced or covered gorgeously by Dionne Warwick. His writing became increasingly, memorably, miraculously idiosyncratic, with complex meters, bold harmonies and tunes that remain living ear worms all these years later. Will anyone ever forget the quirky front phrase of “What’s New, Pussycat?” Doubtful. 

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TMTP Highlights a ‘Cultural Phenomenon’

The Musical Theater Project just closed its 15th annual “Christmas Cabaret” with sold-out performance at Edwin Too on Shaker Square—and once again audiences were surprised to hear an often-forgotten fact revealed by NANCY MAIER, NATALIE GREEN and JOE MONAGHAN.

Namely, that most of our best-loved Christmas songs—from “White Christmas” to “The Christmas Song” to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” were penned by Jewish American songwriters. Oh, everybody knows about Irving Berlin—the quintessential Jewish immigrant—and his “White Christmas,” but not so much when it comes to Mel Torme’s “roasting chestnuts” and Johnny Marks’s “shiny-nosed” four-legged one.

In our show, I call it a cultural phenemenon!

And that’s to say nothing of composer Jule Styne. Styne is the Funny Girl and Gypsy guy, of course, but of the songwriters whose work comprises the Great American Songbook, he also the major Christmas-song guy.

With fellow Jewish American Sammy Cahn he wrote “The Christmas Waltz” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” But Styne also wrote no less than three Christmas musicals for television: “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” (1962 – from which we performed the beautiful “Winter Was Warm”), Liza Minnelli’s The Dangerous Christmas of Little Red Riding Hood (1965) and The Night the Animals Talked (1970).

I had the privilege of interviewing Styne near the end of his life, and this is what he told me about his attraction to the holiday season: “Look, Christmas is the time of year when Americans want to sing more songs and hear more song than at any other time. And it’s a season about love. How could I not want to be part of that?”

Discover Broadway’s Hidden Gems

As the winter weather rolls in and the pandemic rages on, now is the perfect time to hunker down and get cozy with your favorite cast albums. It’s also the time when new releases usually become available from the current Broadway season. Sadly, new musicals are on hold for a while, but TMTP is here to introduce you to a few old ones you may have missed. Here are the staff picks for “hidden gems” they truly love, but have fallen through the cracks over time.

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Life Is a Cabaret!

Cabaret

Every October Manhattan is usually bursting with song as the Mabel Mercer Foundation presents the annual Cabaret Convention. The artform specializing in live and intimate song interpretation certainly wasn’t created with “social distancing” in mind, but nobody’s gonna rain on this parade. For the first time ever, audiences around the world can enjoy a virtual version of the event jam packed with star power. You can register to attend one of many sessions at the link below. In the meantime, here are TMTP’s selections for must-listen cabaret albums. 

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What’s Bill Up To?

We’re thrilled when our participants tell us they have learned, laughed, cried and loved (our
slogan) at one of our events—but I must confess I’m just as happy when I learn something,
which happens all the time.

Example: Now available on our Let’s Go to the Movies series is my preview of the Fred Astaire film A Damsel in Distress (1937). We’ve provided the link to the film, and you can be part of our live-streamed Q&A on October 15.

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What’s Bill Up To?

Bill is up to what all of us at The Musical Theater Project are up to—and this goes for most arts organizations in Cleveland as well. We’re creating online programming as a means of serving our participants during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the case of TMTP, that includes our new weekly series, “Let’s Go to the Movies…at Home!,” an adaptation of our acclaimed school program, “Kids Love Musicals!,” and specially selected song playlists that can be streamed on Spotify. (And of course our two long-running radio programs on public stations and Sirius continue, unaffected by the virus.)

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