Theatre in Unexpected Places

Canteen for a New Era

During World War II, stage and film actors hosted military personnel at Stage Door Canteen on the East Coast and Hollywood Canteen of the West Coast, offering them food, drink and company – and perhaps most importantly entertainment.  David Greenspan’s Canteen for a New Era plans to do the same – cheer people up and lift their spirits. 

The first in the series will feature David Greenspan and music director Jamie Lawrence performing songs from the songbook era for small socially distanced groups from the windows of a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY.

“I have wanted for many years to put together a cabaret act.  I grew up listening to American musicals – and to this day my partner is amazed how many songs from those shows I can still sing verbatim.  I also from an early age listened avidly to Ella Fitzgerald and the early albums put out by Barbra Streisand.  In young adulthood I began listening to recordings of Billie Holiday – and I grew increasingly interested in songs associated with Fred Astaire, Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Mae West, Gene Austin and Marilyn Monroe.  I have a great love for standards of the American songbook and continue to learn songs from that era – and older ones from the early vaudeville period.  I have a feeling for these songs.  I am attuned to their musical style and sensitive to the rhythms and cadence of the lyrics.  
It is news to no one that the corona virus epidemic has significantly impacted the performing arts – both for performers and audiences.  Online streaming is currently the favored mode of presentation.  Naturally new models are necessary – and these models will certainly have a substantial influence on entertainment during and after the health crisis.  Yet I fear the trend toward the virtual and the digital in all areas of our culture.  I remain firmly committed to the actual and the palpable.  The presence of performer and spectator inhabiting the same space cannot be duplicated in any other medium.”

David Greenspan
David Greenspan

David Greenspan is perhaps best known for appearing in his own plays, most notably Dead Mother (NYSF/Public Theater), She Stoops to Comedy and Go Back to Where You Are (Playwrights Horizons), I’m Looking for Helen Twelvetrees (Abrons Arts Center) – and his solo plays The Argument (Target Margin) and The Myopia (The Foundry).  He has performed solo renditions of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude and Barry Conners’ The Patsy (Transport Group), Gertrude Stein’s lecture Plays (The Foundry) and a program of two Stein lectures and a playlet Composition…Masterpieces…Identity (Target Margin).  He has worked with many contemporary playwrights – drawing particular notice for his performances in Terrence McNally’s Some Men and in revivals of Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band and Goethe’s Faust.  He is the recipient of Guggenheim, Lortel and Fox fellowships, Alpert, Lambda Literary, Helen Merrill Playwriting awards, a RUTHIE and six OBIES.

Jamie Lawrence

Jamie Lawrence is an eclectic musician active in film, television, and theater as a composer, orchestrator and producer. He has  five Emmy awards and another ten Emmy nominations. He music directed the 2019 Tony Awards, and has been its chief composer/arranger and Assoc MD for many years. Jamie has scored many documentaries for HBO and produced the scores for all of Rebecca Miller’s films, most recently Arthur Miller: WriterMaggie’s Plan, and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.  Jamie loves writing songs and in the past few years has co-written albums with MuMu (Ladies First), Nora York (Swoon), Joe Brucato (Christmas in New York), as well as released his personal jazz foray, New York Suite. He is an adjunct professor of Film Music at NYU and lives in New York City. In his off hours he has a sideline as a writer/performer of children’s songs under his alias — Jamie Broza. His first CD for children, “Bad Mood Mom and other Good Mood Songs,” made the Parents’ Choice Foundation’s list of the top 25 children’s CDs in the last 25 years

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