February House - Original Cast Recording
"February House" gives us a hedonistic gaze down memory lane at the Brooklyn flat rented by George Davis in the early 40's as a commune for some of the most brilliant outcasts of the World War II era. Davis, the former editor of Harper's Bazaar, took over the residence at 7 Middagh Street, and was joined during his occupation (at various times) by poet W.H. Auden, novelist Carson McCullers, composer Benjamin Britten, tenor Peter Pears, political activist Erika Mann, and even stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.
Composer / lyricist Gabriel Kahane, along with Ted Sperling, have produced the cast recording for the musicalization of this quirky tale, with a libretto by Seth Bockley, and it is now available from StorySound Records. Kahane's voice is talented and unique: his music contains a wide variety of styles, but is stirred into a soundscape that is both pleasantly intriguing yet not easily describable. The opening song, "Light Upon the Hill" features Julian Fleisher as Davis, accompanied by a Banjo-led band, and conducted with perfection by Andy Boroson ("Add1ng Mach1ne"). Britten (Stanley Bahorek) and lover Pears (Ken Barnett) represent the eccentricities of the guests in the house, and their song, "Bedbugs," allows them to express their opinion in song. Auden's poem, "Refugee Blues," is musically set by Kahane as a mysterious, ensemble number, and is one of several melodies that allows the group to lend their voices to a world that has always had trouble accepting their personal lives while embracing their creative output.
The chamber musical, with productions at New York's Public Theater, and New Haven's Long Wharf Theater, attempted to give life to Davis' desire to create a residence where the famous could get away from the outside world in favor of a "safe" home to live their lives the way they wished. The two gay couples, Britten and Pears, and Auden and his boytoy Chester Kallman, find a place to stay where they can openly exist as couples; Lee (Kacie Sheik) receives valuable assistance from Davis in writing her infamous, "G-Spot Mystery;" and both McCullers and Auden create some of their best known work while in residence.
The recording allows the listener to hear a variety of art-song style songs by a promising composer, portraying the lifestyles of some of the smartest, albeit misunderstood, artists of our time.
"February House (Original Cast Recording)"