Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Bernstein on Broadway: A Centennial Celebration
Kennedy Center
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Native Gardens and The Arsonists

Beth Malone and Cast
Photo by Teresa Wood
The connection between Leonard Bernstein—symphonic conductor, composer for both Broadway and the concert hall, pianist, educator, author and cultural icon—and Washington's Kennedy Center began with the center's opening in 1971, when Bernstein conducted the premiere of his Mass. In anticipation of the centennial of Bernstein's birth on August 25, 1918, the Kennedy Center launched its participation in an international, two-year-long celebration with a September 22 staged concert, Bernstein on Broadway: A Centennial Celebration, filled with both talent and love.

Director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall brought together such noted performers as Norm Lewis (Porgy and Bess, Sweeney Todd Off-Broadway), Laura Osnes (Bandstand, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella), Osnes' Cinderella co-star Santino Fontana, and Beth Malone (Fun Home) in the Eisenhower Theater to celebrate Bernstein's five Broadway musicals, his songs added to a production of Peter Pan (the play, not the famous musical version), and Mass. Music director Rob Fisher conducted the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in front of Greg Emetaz' projections of show art, scenes from original productions, New York City in past decades, and Bernstein and his collaborators at work.

Bernstein's daughter Jamie provided remarks throughout the performance, sharing memories of growing up with a genius in a home filled with music and learning from her father the goal of making the world a better place.

The seven numbers from Wonderful Town, which Marshall directed and choreographed for Broadway in 2003, included a zany "Conga!" pitting Malone against four male dancers, Osnes' flirtatious "A Little Bit in Love," and a sultry "Ballet at the Village Vortex" for four couples. Other highlights included Lewis' soaring "Lonely Town" and Malone's sassy "I Can Cook Too," both from On the Town, Matthew Hydzik's straightforward rendition of "A Simple Song" from Mass, and the choral finale, "Make Our Garden Grow" from Candide (which Washington National Opera will perform next spring).

For a complete schedule of the Kennedy Center's activities honoring Bernstein, visit

Kennedy Center
Bernstein on Broadway: A Centennial Celebration
September 22, 2017
Starring Mikaela Bennett, Santino Fontana, Matthew Hydzik, Norm Lewis, Beth Malone, Laura Osnes
Max Clayton, Kimberly Fauré, Shina Ann Morris, Keven Quillon, Brandon Rubendall, Samantha Sturm, Erica Sweany, Anthony Wayne
Choral Arts Society, Scott Tucker, Musical Director
Music Director: Rob Fisher
Director/Choreographer: Kathleen Marshall
Eisenhower Theater, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC
Ticket Information: (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600 or