Michael Feinstein, America’s most passionate music preservationist, returns to PBS in a star-studded, third series of his celebration of the Great American Songbook. In this new three-part season, he explores the enduring popularity of show tunes, the pas de deux between music and choreography, and the indelible impact that radio in its heyday had on the American musical canon.
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Friday, April 5 at 9:00 p.m. Show Tunes
Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole appear in this episode about great American musicals. Sondheim reveals the composers he most admires and shows Feinstein some rare home movie footage of the original Broadway production of the classic Follies. Tony Award-winner Ebersole gives a tour de force performance of some of the greatest show tunes of all time, and Lansbury reflects on her Broadway career, from Mame to Sweeney Todd and more. (Michael also has a surprise for Angela.) Feinstein discusses his personal relationship with Ira Gershwin and performs the classic “Lullaby of Broadway” and “Let Me Entertain You.”
Friday, April 5 at 10:00 p.m. Let's Dance
Fred Astaire was the favorite singer of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the Gershwins. Why was this dancer so beloved by these composers? That question launches Feinstein into an exploration of the marriage of music and choreography, unearthing rare home movies of Astaire rehearsing on set, and never-before-seen footage of Gene Kelly’s Broadway debut in the original Pal Joey. Liza Minnelli, who knew both Astaire and Kelly, dispatches an amazing deconstruction of a dance number from the musical perspective. Feinstein explores the popularity of ballroom dance in America and performs “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Let’s Dance.”
Friday, April 12 at 10:00 p.m. On the Air
Decades ago, the Golden Age of Radio fulfilled the idol-making role in the U.S. Feinstein traces the phenomenon with archival clips of Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway, Kate Smith and others. He conducts one of the last interviews with TV and stage star Rose Marie (“Sally Rodgers” on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”) and learns about her career as a child radio star. On his own radio program, Feinstein showcases virtuoso classical superstars, including violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk. Finally, he discovers a lost radio program that featured Rosemary Clooney, and through digital magic performs a “new” duet with her.