Meet the Producing Directors
Benjamin Sears & Bradford Conner 1have been called “Boston’s favorite song duo” by the Boston Globe, and “the delightful cabaret team” by the Boston Phoenix. Recipients of IRNE (Independent Reviewers of New England) and LIP (Life in Provincetown) awards, they have performed as a duo since 1989, carrying on the great cabaret tradition of “the song, the singer, and the pianist”. They are noted recording artists with a significant discography which features many previously unrecorded songs by Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, and E.Y. Harburg. Their Irving Berlin series continues with the recent release of Marching Along With Time, covering the years 1935-1945, and Reaching for the Moon, with songs from the years 1925-1935, is in preparation. In March 2003, Sears & Conner were panelists at the Hofstra University conference The Broadway Musical – 1920-2020 where they performed Irving Berlin’s Mandy with Doris Eaton Travis, who danced the number in the original 1919 Ziegfeld Follies. Sears and Conner have appeared at Boston’s Emerson Majestic Theatre, the Wang Centre for the Performing Arts, the Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Convention (Town Hall, New York City), Don’t Tell Mama (New York), Tom Rolla’s Gardenia (Los Angeles), the International Fringe Festival (Orlando, Florida), Cabaret at Windows (Washington, DC), Chicago Public Library, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Scullers Jazz Club (Boston), the first Boston Cabaret Festival, CabaretFest! (Provincetown and Newburyport, Massachusetts), Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, Massachusetts), and at colleges, concert series, and other venues throughout the Northeast. For the 2002 Richard Rodgers Centennial, they gave a special performance using Rodgers’s own piano at the Dramatist Guild in New York. On radio they appear regularly as performers on Boston and regional stations; and on the nationally syndicated The Connection (WBUR-FM, Boston) they spoke as commentators on the Gershwins, Sir Noël Coward, and Fred Astaire. Sears and Conner are Founders and Producing Directors of American Classics and are founding members of the Boston Association of Cabaret Artists (BACA), an organization promoting awareness and performance of cabaret in the Boston area. In 1999 they joined forces with voice and piano duo Valerie Anastasio & Tim Harbold to create and tour a Noël Coward centenary program, Noël and Cole – Together With Music, followed by a second show, Fred & Ethel – Great Songs of Astaire and Merman, which was also nominated for a 2001 IRNE award, and most recently Marching Along With Time (drawn from their CD release). Sears is editor of The Irving Berlin Reader from Oxford University Press, and Conner is editing the new second edition of Alec Wilder’s American Popular Song, also for OUP.
Margaret Ulmer, piano, a Producing Director and founding member of American Classics, has directed the music for American Classics’ revues and Musicals in Concert, and has composed and directed music for Boston’s foremost repertory theatre companies, The Berkshire Music Festival, and NBC-TV. A music director for the long-running topical revue, The Proposition, she has taught improvisation workshops in the U.S. and Japan; she also plays for silent films. Ulmer has performed in major contemporary music and multimedia festivals in the U.S and Europe, working with Philip Glass and the American Repertory Theatre, Boston Musica Viva, and Alea III. Current solo American piano concerts include American Places; Dancing in the Dark;Marches, Rags and Blues; My Manhattan; Ragtime Musique; Sophisticated Ladies; Streets of Laredo; andWayfaring Stranger. Ulmer maintains a private studio in Cambridge coaching cabaret, and teaching improvisation and piano.