Mar 18, 2015 View All News

NJPAC Presents A Swinging and Singing Salute to One of Hollywood’s Greatest Songwriters

Norm Lewis


Two of Broadway’s Hottest Leading Stars Headline in Swinging On a Star: The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen

The Magical, Timeless Hits by Sinatra’s Songwriter

Showcased on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8pm in NJPAC’s Victoria Theater

Musical Direction by Rob Fisher

NEWARK, NJ (January  30, 2015) – A veritable dream of Broadway talent – Tony Award nominees and two of Broadway’s hottest leading stars –Norm Lewis (pictured) and Rebecca Luker  under the musical direction of Rob Fisher – celebrate one of Hollywood’s greatest songwriters in Swinging On a Star: The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen.  This one-of-a-kind tribute to the Oscar-winning composer, often referred to as Frank Sinatra’s personal songwriter, takes place on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8pm at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in the Arts Center’s intimate Victoria Theater.


This thrilling evening of song and swing is a rare opportunity to see two of the Great White Way’s most beloved leading players share the stage:  Norm Lewis (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess), who recently made history as Broadway’s first African-American Phantom of the Opera, and soprano Rebecca Luker (Mary Poppins, The Music Man), an acclaimed recording artist and favorite on concert hall stages throughout the world.  Showcased will be the composer’s captivating and everlasting melodies, many made famous by Frank Sinatra, including “My Kind of Town,” “All the Way,” “Call Me Irresponsible,” “High Hopes,” and “Come Fly with Me,” all with lyrics by the irrepressible lyricist Sammy Cahn.


Swinging On a Star: the Music of Jimmy Van Heusen is being underwritten by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.


Gene R. Korf, the Executive Director of the Laurie Foundation and the show’s producer, stated: “It is with great pleasure that the Laurie Foundation is able to bring about this concert to honor one of America’s most prolific composers and to feature two of the most talented performers on Broadway.  It is hard to believe that one person could have made such an in-depth contribution to the Great American Songbook for such a long period of time.  We are particularly pleased to celebrate his career at a first-rate venue which does so much to keep alive this significant aspect of America’s musical heritage.”


According to John Schreiber, NJPAC’s President and CEO, said: “In the pantheon of the Great American Songbook, no one’s melodies touched the heart or swung harder than Jimmy Van Heusen’s.  We’re honored to be able to preview Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday year with this marvelous, magical celebration.”


About Jimmy Van Heusen

Jimmy Van Heusen (January 26, 1913 – February 6, 1990) was born Edward Chester Babcock in Syracuse, New York, beginning his songwriting career while in high school.  At age 16 he renamed himself after the famous shirt makers, Phillips Van Heusen, to use as his on-air name as a deejay on local radio shows. In 1938, he became a staff pianist for some of the Tin Pan Alley publishers, and wrote “It’s the Dreamer in Me” with lyrics by Tommy Dorsey.  In 1940, he teamed up with lyricist Johnny Burke and composed more than 60 songs that year.  With Burke, he moved to Hollywood writing for stage musicals and films.


Van Heusen won an Emmy Award for the song “Love and Marriage” and won Oscars for four others: “Swinging On a Star,” “All the Way,” “High Hopes,” and “Call Me Irresponsible.” Other well-known Van Heusen songs include “Come Fly with Me,” “Love is the Tender Trap,” and “My Kind of Town.”  He wrote 85 songs for Frank Sinatra and composed the music for six of the seven Bing Crosby/Bob Hope “Road” pictures.  Van Heusen’s songs are featured in more than 250 films.  In 1971, he became an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


About the Artists

Norm Lewis (Sen. Edison Davis on ABC-TV’s Scandal) recently received nominations for the Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle awards for his lead role in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.  He has appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, The Little Mermaid, Sondheim on Sondheim, Chicago and Miss Saigon, and as New York’s first African-American Phantom of the Opera.


Triple Tony nominee Rebecca Luker’s Broadway credits include Cinderella, The Sound of Music, Show Boat, The Secret Garden and The Phantom of the Opera.  She was featured in Broadway’s Nine opposite Antonio Banderas and has performed before sold-out audiences in concert and opera halls throughout the country.  She recently starred in the world premiere of the musical Little Dancer at the Kennedy Center.


Rob Fisher, musical director, conductor and pianist, is a leading figure in American music and musical theater.  He was founding music director and conductor of the Encores! Series at New York City Center from its inception in 1994 until 2005.  The series earned a 2000 Tony Award, and in 1997, Fisher was given the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Special Achievement.  He has made numerous recordings, including the Grammy Award-winning Chicago cast album. 


Gene R. Korf (Producer) credits include: And the World Goes Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle), 2003 revival Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Tony Award);  All the Way (Tony Award), and numerous concert evenings celebrating the works of Burton Lane, Dorothy Fields, Rodgers and Hart and other major contributors to the Great American Songbook.  He is a past recipient of the New York City Center/Leonard Harris Award (2001) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Roundabout Theatre Company.


About the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation

The Blanche And Irving Laurie Foundation Inc., is one of New Jersey’s largest and most highly respected foundations.  The Foundation is proud to report that over the last 20 years it has provided approximately $68 million dollars in grants to philanthropic endeavors addressing the foundation’s interest in the arts, education, healthcare and social services.