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American Musicals

Loesser Centennial Celebration Continues with ATW, Karen Oberlin Tributes

June 29, 2010 will mark the 100th anniversary of composer and lyricist Frank Loesser's birth. Loesser wrote over 700 songs and five Broadway musicals and contributed music and lyrics to dozens of Hollywood films, and was awarded an Oscar, a Grammy, two Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize along the way.

A number of events are taking place around the country to mark the centennial of this American icon.

On June 7, the American Theater Wing will honor Loesser's centennial at their annual spring gala, which will feature performances by Harry Connick, Jr., Megan Mullally and Kelli O'Hara.

From June 1 - 19, award-winning singer Karen Oberlin, recently described by the New York Times as having "impeccable style... steady musical intelligence (and) delicately voluptuous phrasing," returns to the legendary Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel for her first extended run with a show celebrating Loesser's remarkable musical legacy.

Oberlin delves into the life and music of this fascinating composer and lyricist as she performs many of his classics as well as rarities from the Loesser canon. Described as "thrilling" by Rex Reed in the New York Observer, Oberlin explores the delicious wit, beauty and depth of Loesser's timeless songs.

Other centenary events that have taken place include the Kennedy Center's May 3 debut performance of Of Mice and Manhattan, a new stage work based on Loesser's previously-unheard animal songs and "Broadway Up Close and Personal: Frank Loesser," an examination of Loesser's work and life by Michael Kerker, Jo Sullivan Loesser and special guests.

More events are upcoming:

On June 29, Turner Classic Movies will present an evening of classic films including Loesser songs. This offers fans a rare opportunity to experience Loesser's incredibly versatile musical oeuvre first-hand.

The films that are slated to be shown include How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967), Neptune's Daughter (1949), Red, Hot and Blue (1949) and Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943).

Fans who tune in that evening will get a special treat: Walter Gottlieb's "superb" (San Francisco Chronicle) documentary Heart & Soul: The Life and Music of Frank Loesser (2006), which illuminates Loesser's fascinating, but all-too-brief life and remarkable career.

On November 26 and 27, Marvin Hamlisch will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra Pops in two centenary tribute concerts that will feature selections from Loesser's Broadway smashes Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall. Tickets can be purchased via www.kennedy-center.org or 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600.

In the spring of 2011, Loesser's Pulitzer and Tony award-winning show How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will be revived on Broadway, with Daniel Radcliffe making his musical theater debut as J. Pierrepont Finch.