Opening pitch

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  October 1, 2008

Ziegler’s warmth and scintillating diction brought to life a couple of numbers from another show that deserves reviving: One Touch of Venus, with memorable lyrics by Ogden Nash including the ironic “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” and the haunting, Shakespearean “Speak Low” (“Love is so old, and Time so brief/Love is pure gold, and Time a thief”).

Weill also collaborated with Langston Hughes (“Lost in the Stars”), Maxwell Anderson (“September Song”), and Alan Jay Lerner. We got juicy excerpts from such forgotten scores as The Firebrand of Florence (a flop about the love life of Benvenuto Cellini — Ira Gershwin again), the experimental Love Life (Lerner), and the unfinished Huckleberry Finn (Anderson).

Baritone Philip Lima served up a devilish mock-innocent “Mack the Knife” in Mark Blitzstein’s chilling translation for the famous 1954 Off Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera. Conrad gave us an affecting “September Song.” The other women — sopranos Ellen Chickering and Ruth Hartt, and sly, stylish mezzo-soprano Laura Chritton — out-sang and out-acted tenors Craig Hanson and Elias Rosenberg, but the guys made a terrific back-up chorus. Pianists Beverly Orlove, John Greer, and William Merrill were indispensable in more ways than one.

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