For fans of oft-awarded composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville will be the center of the musical-theatre universe from Aug. 28 through Sept. 12.
The Aurora Theatre will return to live performance with a limited engagement of Webber’s celebrated 1979 musical “Song and Dance,” which features a first act told through song and a second act showcasing dance. “Song and Dance” will star India Tyree in the role that won Bernadette Peters her first Tony Award, with cello virtuoso Noah Johnson providing accompaniment.
The Aurora Theatre is one of a handful of theatre companies allowed by the producers to stage “Song and Dance,” and according to the licensing company’s website, this will be the only production of the musical in the world at this time.
“I have been entranced by ‘Song and Dance’ since the early 80s when my best friend returned from London and talked incessantly about how great this show was there,” said Aurora Theatre co-founder and associate producer Ann-Carol Pence in a news release. “I worked hard to get the opportunity to produce this show and know it will resonate with today’s audiences the same way it resonated with me.
“We are giving the piece a contemporary context. I cannot imagine a better way to demonstrate that artists are essential workers.”
The two-act production begins with a song cycle titled “Tell Me on a Sunday,” following the progress of a British woman now living in New York City as she takes a journey of “self-discovery through her relationship missteps.”
The second act – told entirely through dance – features eight dancers choreographed by Angela Harris, the executive artistic director of Atlanta-based Dance Canvas, that comments on and compliments the events portrayed in the first act.
The 73-year-old Lloyd Webber is a titan in musical-theatre circles, having guided “Cats,” “Evita,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” among many others. He is but one of 16 individuals to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, A Grammy and a Tony and has won six Tonys, three Grammys, 14 Ivor Novello awards and a Golden Glob award.
“Song and Dance” also represents would could well be a long-term collaboration between the theatre company and the Gwinnett County School of the Arts. Three faculty members from the new School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett High School are part of the production team – cellist Johnson, a member of the school’s Music Department faculty; set designer Michael Tarver, the technical director at the school; and Lilliangina Quiñones, the school’s Theatre Department chair. The creative team is rounded out by Pence, who is serving as musical director, and Justin Anderson as co-director.
The Aurora Theatre’s limited presentation of “Song and Dance” begins Saturday, Aug. 28. Special socially-distanced seating performances are set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4 and at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online (www.AuroraTheatre.com) or by calling the box office at 678-226-6222. At the present time, Aurora will allow full-capacity seating and vaccinated patrons are not required to wear a mask, although the situation is fluid, so updates can be obtained by visiting the website.