Broadway meets breast cancer

After enjoying a little nap one afternoon, our daughter Lizabeth shared some suprising news. The cat, who’s taken to sleeping atop her baby blue blanket, snores. Seems no lullabies are required when you’re a fluffy feline. But babies of the human variety sometimes need a little help in the sleep department. It’s Broadway to the rescue with a new collection of tunes called “Over the Moon,” which features lovely lullaby fare that’s soothing for the little ones and plenty enjoyable for the grown-ups who love them.

The tall white bookshelves in Lizabeth’s room are filled with play scripts, mementos of dance and theater days, and CDs featuring Broadway cast recordings she grew up listening to by day and night. Ask about her favorite “lullabies” and she’ll recount songs from beloved Broadway productions. I’m pretty sure she fell asleep to “Next to Normal” almost every night during high school. Seems showtunes and good writing can make just about anything more bearable.

A newly-released book and CD set called “Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project” benefits breast cancer research (Photo courtesy of Easton Studio Press)

So I was delighted to discover that “Over the Moon” includes “First Sonogram” featuring music by Tom Kitt. Other selections include “It Takes All Kinds” (with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), “I Love You” (with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) and “Lucky” (with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz). The names are plenty familiar to folks who’ve seen “Avenue Q,” “Into the Woods” or “Wicked.” The book is designed by Barbara Aronica-Buck, and music on the CD is produced by Matt Pierson.

The double CD, which features 26 songs, is actually titled “Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project.” A companion hard-cover book with the same name features lyrics and illustrations for 17 of the lullabies, and soon there’ll be a documentary recounting their creation as part of a collaborative effort to move the fight against breast cancer forward. Notes at the back of the book share bios for “Over the Moon” participants, many including thoughts about ways breast cancer has touched the contributors’ own lives.

A trio of Gluckmans (10-year-old Tillie and 8-year-olds Keegan and Zi) make their recording debut with “The Man Who Invented Ice Cream” by Charles Strouse and Sammy Cahn — dedicating it to “their Bubbe and Gama, both breast cancer survivors; their Aunt Linda, a breast cancer surgeon; and their Great Grandmother Tillie, who lost her battle with the disease before they could ever meet her.” Other vocalists include Brain d’Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, Sutton Foster, Stephanie Bast, Raul Esparza, Nikki M. James and many more.

Listen with your baby or just enjoy in bubble bath mode

The collection is sweet, soothing and sentimental. Also filled with humor and delightful musical interludes featuring everything from piano and guitar to cello and accordian. Buy it for your baby if you have one. But try it with a bubble bath if you don’t, because there’s plenty for wistful parents of older children to enjoy in its nods to nostalgia and all things growing up together. Get the book too so you can enjoy the forward written by mother-daughter writing team Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton.

Also illustrations by a diverse gathering of exceptional artists. Think R. Gregorie Christie, who’s been commissioned by the MTA “Arts in Transit” program in NYC to create an image for display in subway cars. Neil Waldman, whose work was chosen for a United Nations “International Year of Peace” poster. Gary Zamschick, whose work has been exhibited at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Also Beowulf Boritt, set designer for “The Scottsboro Boys,” “Rock of Ages” and more. Cover design is by Jules Feiffer, who illustrated “The Phantom Tollbooth” plus a recent work by daughter Kate Feiffer called “No Go Sleep.”

The book’s most inspiring pages feature a pair of prefaces by women whose lives have been forever changed by breast cancer. Jodi Gluckman writes of stirring cookie batter with her grandmother, grateful for time shared before cancer took her grandmother’s life. Kate Dawson writes of her cousin Jill, who lost her life to cancer while still a young mother. Dawson learned, after conceiving the “Over the Moon” project and bringing it to life with Gluckman, that Jill’s favorite gift to new mothers was a CD of lullabies. Remember these women, and remarkable women in your own life, as you listen to “Over the Moon” with your little ones. Time is fleeting, and music helps us remember just how much each moment matters.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about Public Interest Projects (fiscal sponsor for “Over the Moon”), here to learn about the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and here to learn about the Young Survival Coalition (the “Over the Moon” project benefits both non-profits). “Over the Moon” is also available in e-book format.

Coming up: A day at “Camp Broadway”

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