‘American Songbook at NJPAC’ series takes a deep look at love



Joshua Bell and Larissa Martinez perform together in the “American Songbook at NJPAC” TV series.

Love — “the most written-about topic in the American Songbook,” according to Michael Feinstein — gets an episode of its own in a special Valentine’s Day season edition of “American Songbook at NJPAC,” which premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on NJTV.

The series, now in its fourth season, has accumulated enough performances to make a clip show possible, and that’s what this is. It also looks ahead a little by closing with a fabulous clip of Larissa Martinez singing the “West Side Story” ballad “Somewhere,” with Joshua Bell on violin; this performance is from the next “American Songbook at NJPAC” show, which airs Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.

Feinstein, who is serving as the “American Songbook” host this season, appears at the beginning of the show, talking briefly and singing a bit of “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.” He also reappears from time to time to introduce different segments, which are formatted to take viewers through love’s “rollercoaster of emotions,” as Feinstein says.

The segments are: 

Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana: “First Date/Last Night”
Catherine Russell: “I Won’t Dance”
Nellie McKay: “A Wonderful Guy”

“Unconditional Love”
Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley: “Something’s Gotta Give”
Valerie Simpson: “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”
Marc Shaiman: “A Wink and a Smile”
Maude Maggart: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”
Jessie Mueller and Jarrod Spector: “I Feel the Earth Move”/”Your Song”

Rebecca Luker: “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”
Debbie Gravitte: “Meadowlark”

“The Breakup”
Maureen McGovern: “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
Marilyn Maye: “Bye-Bye Country Boy”
Jeff Harnar: “I’m Calm”/”The Little Things You Do Together”/”Getting Married Today”

Tom Wopat: “But Not for Me”
KT Sullivan: “No One Has Ever Loved Me”/”With So Little to Be Sure Of”/”So Many People”
Larissa Martinez with Joshua Bell: “Somewhere”

Shows for this season of “American Songbook at NJPAC” were taped at the Newark performing arts center’s Victoria Theater in December. Guests on the remaining shows will include:

Feb. 15: Joshua Bell, Billy Porter, Larisa Martìnez, and Songbook Youth Ambassador Brighton Thomas.

Feb. 22: Andrea McArdle, Jared Grimes, Rachel York and Songbook Youth Ambassador Julia Goodwin.

March 1: Billy Porter and others in a salute to great Broadway composers, including Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George & Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, and Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman.

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