American Songbook favorites coming to NJ PBS

June 9, 2022

NJ PBS will premiere two new episodes to kick off the fifth season of the award-winning music series, American Songbook at NJPAC on Tuesday, June 21 and June 28 at 9:30 p.m. on NJ PBS (check local listings). The season will continue with new episodes this fall. After each broadcast, episodes can be streamed on MyNJPBS.org.

American Songbook at NJPAC, co-produced with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), was taped before a live audience at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater.  The series premieres with a performance by Melissa Errico, a Tony nominee for Amour and a celebrated interpreter of the songs of Stephen Sondheim, on June 21 at 9:30 p.m. on NJ PBS.  Along with sharing personal and professional stories, she performs a selection of Sondheim favorites including “I’m Not Getting Married” (Company), “Send in the Clowns” and “No One Is Alone” (Into the Woods). Watch a trailer.

The talents of  James Monroe Iglehart are featured the following week, on June 28 at 9:30 p.m. on NJ PBS. A Tony winner for his unforgettable turn as the Genie in Aladdin, Iglehart also starred in the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in Broadway’s Hamilton.  He shares stories of his work on those and other productions as well as his love for American Songbook standards. Among the diverse songs he performs are blues standard “T’Aint Nobody’s Business,” “Friend Like Me” (Aladdin) and “Make Them Hear You” (Ragtime). Watch a trailer.

Each performance will be followed by an on-stage Q&A session with the stars conducted by Ted Chapin, the former president of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. 

“NJ PBS is thrilled to partner once again with the Arts Center on the American Songbook at NJPAC broadcast series,” says NJ PBS General Manager Joe Lee. “Our two mission-driven organizations are dedicated to the celebration and preservation of great American music and the vibrancy of art and culture in New Jersey. We take pride in making these wonderful performances accessible to all New Jerseyans through the power of public media.” 

“For more than 100 years, American composers and lyricists have written the songs that provide the soundtrack of our lives,” says John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. “There’s nothing like this music, and we’re thrilled that this wonderful tradition of live performances for public television has returned to NJPAC.”  

Melissa Errico is a Tony Award-nominated Broadway star and lauded concert artist. The Wall Street Journal called her 2018 album, Sondheim Sublime, “the best all-Sondheim album ever recorded.” Her Sondheim roles on stage have included Dot in Sunday in The Park with George at The Kennedy Center; Clara in Passion at Classic Stage Company; and Leona in the NY City Center Encores! production of Do I Hear A Waltz?  In 2020, she sang “Children and Art” in the Sondheim 90th Birthday Concert. Her starring roles on Broadway include My Fair Lady, Amour, and High Society. She has also sung countless concerts of American Song, including stints at Joe’s Pub, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Lincoln Center’s Allen Room, and 54 Below. 

James Monroe Iglehart is an award-winning actor of stage and screen, most recently seen as Billy Flynn in the longest-running American musical on Broadway, Chicago. He has also appeared in the musical Hamilton, in the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, in Freestyle Love Supreme and won the Tony for Best Featured Actor for his comic triumph as Genie in Disney’s Aladdin the Musical. He has been seen on TV in shows including Maniac, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Elementary, Law & Order: SVU and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He has also voiced many animated characters for Disney, Nickelodeon and Apple TV productions.