Series Taped at The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook and Features Ana Gasteyer, Rickie Lee Jones, Jarrod Spector, Barb Jungr, The Ann Wilson Thing, Rita Wilson
Season One Premieres On CPTV January 22, 2016
HARTFORD, Conn. (January 21, 2016) – Katharine Hepburn once famously quipped, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” A lively and original new national music series, The Kate, pays homage to the series’ muse and namesake, evoking the high-spirited charisma and iconoclastic essence of the cultural icon by featuring a dynamic lineup of vibrant artists who have something to say—and share it during their performances.
Airing on CPTV Fridays at 10 p.m. beginning January 22—prior to the national release—season one of The Kate features six one-hour episodes with captivating performances and revealing interviews with (in order of appearance): Ana Gasteyer, Rickie Lee Jones, Jarrod Spector, The Ann Wilson Thing, Barb Jungr, and Rita Wilson.
Produced by CPTV, The Kate is filmed in front of a live audience at the exquisite Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, a historic, 250-seat theater in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The series steps out of the traditional live music television format to bring viewers on an intimate journey with artists who are exploring new creative directions, expanding vocal boundaries, and reimagining their art in surprising and innovative ways. They span an array of musical genres, from rock, pop, blues, jazz, and Broadway. The Kate immerses viewers in the full experience—on stage, back stage, in the theater—capturing the palpable connection of performers with the audience in the intimate performance space.
“The Kate celebrates groundbreaking music artists who infuse their performances with zest, wit and conviction to create a singular experience for the audience,” said Jennifer Boyd, Executive Producer, CPTV. “Produced right here in Connecticut, the series provides a riveting showcase for artists to share their personal musical journeys. Each artist shares between-song stories, performances of new repertoire, and inventive, rearranged covers of favorite songs that have long influenced them.”
Programs, performers, and premiere and rebroadcast dates for season one of The Kate are as follows:
PREMIERES FRIDAY, JANUARY 22 AT 10 p.m. (Rebroadcast April 1 at 10 p.m.)
Ana Gasteyer has a flair for irony and an offbeat humor that made her a standout on Saturday Night Live, and exuberant full-tilt vocals that brought down the house on Broadway in “Wicked” and “Rocky Horror.” But the versatile, classically-trained singer is most at home with sass and brass, crooning in sequined dresses amid laughter and clinking ice in glasses. On stage in The Kate, Gasteyer takes viewers along for a high-octane ride, mixing moxie and playful patter in a powerhouse performance that evokes the swagger of an era when a lady ruled a nightclub. From songs like “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” – added to the set exclusively for this series—to “One Mint Julep” to an unexpectedly smooth rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”, Gasteyer’s rollicking set of saucy selections tell stories with humor and heartbreak.
RICKIE LEE JONES
PREMIERES, FRIDAY, JANUARY 29 AT 10 P.M. (Rebroadcast April 8 at 10 p.m.)
Two-time Grammy-winner Rickie Lee Jones has been defying convention and fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona in a career spanning several decades. On The Kate, the critically acclaimed artist blends feisty bravado and vulnerability in her uniquely rendered rock, blues, and pop—captivating the audience with gut-wrenching lyrics and fierce yet hauntingly fragile vocals in enduring favorites like “Chuck E.’s in Love”, “Young Blood”, “It Must Be Love” and “Satellites”. She also shares searingly honest, confessional songs from “The Other Side of Desire”, her first new album in more than 10 years, which spins the audience through the last decade of the artist’s truth and experience and new life in New Orleans. In a deeply revealing interview, Rickie Lee reflects on overcoming life’s recent obstacles, turning 60, and the freedom that came with letting go of protecting her prestige as she turns to celebrating her art.
PREMIERES FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 AT 10 P.M. (Rebroadcast April 15 at 10 p.m.)
Tony Award nominee and Broadway veteran Jarrod Spector cut his teeth portraying Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. The scope of Spector’s work on The Kate is breathtaking, including dramatic renditions of contemporary classics from Paul McCartney (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), U2 (“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”), and stirring medleys by Little Richard (“Good Golly Miss Molly/Tutti Frutti”) and Four Seasons (“C’mon Marianne/Beggin’”), and a showstopper that morphs Enrico Caruso (“Una Furtiva Lagrima”) into Queen (“Somebody To Love”). Spector relates his own vocal influences in singers like Valli and Billy Joel, and how he sees the tenor as “the rock god of each generation’s music.” He shares his deep interest in tracing the lineage of the tenor sound back through a century of music to see how the generations directly influence the way he sings today.
THE ANN WILSON THING
PREMIERES FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 AT 10 P.M. (Rebroadcast April 22 at 10 p.m.)
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ann Wilson breaks away temporarily from the music of Heart—the truly impressive body of work created with sister, Nancy Wilson, which has inspired legions of fans and great singers—and stretches her vocal boundaries with “a very sweet passion project,” The Ann Wilson Thing. Wilson makes a rare television appearance on The Kate, playing unusual blues and rock cover songs with a voice that continues to mesmerize and resonate with its vast range, astonishing power and sheer, supple musicality. She performs passionate renditions of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way”, John Lennon’s “Isolation”, and Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand”. Wilson also speaks frankly about getting married and how that reflects on her art; spending the first 40 percent of her career trying to be taken seriously as a female rock artist; and the notion of Heart as role models for women.
PREMIERES FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19 AT 10 P.M. (Rebroadcast April 29 at 10 p.m.)
Lauded as a fearless iconoclast, British modern cabaret artist Barb Jungr has received international raves and accolades for her unique vocal style, song interpretation and radical approach to arrangements. Considered one of the best interpreters of Dylan and one of the world’s best nightclub singers, she works feverishly to bring classic songs to new heights. On The Kate, Jungr applies her considerable energy and unconventional style to the music of Stephen Sondheim (“Something’s Coming”), David Bowie (“Life On Mars?”), Bob Dylan (“All Along The Watchtower”), Leonard Cohen (“Sisters of Mercy”), and a stirring rendition of “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell. Jungr also performs highlights from her upcoming album, “Shelter from the Storm”, where she presents songs of healing. This episode includes a look at the creation of that album as The Kate goes behind the scenes to the recording sessions.
PREMIERES FRIDAY, MARCH 25 AT 10 P.M. (Rebroadcast May 6 at 10 p.m.)
The earliest showbiz intentions of prolific film and television actress Rita Wilson were actually musically-inclined. Wilson finally achieved her musical dream with the 2012 release of her debut album AM/FM (Decca Records), an intimate, elegant collection of song classics from the ‘60s and ‘70s, which serve as “a road map of human experience” that make up the soundtrack to her life. Wilson is currently breaking new creative ground as a songwriter, and is poised to release a second studio album in March 2016—a self-titled collection of original songs co-written by Wilson with award-winning songwriting partners—which will be part of her special performance for The Kate. Songwriting has opened up an entirely new and exciting avenue for the seasoned actress to discover, create, and explore deeply personal emotional terrain and other ideas.
For more information about The Kate series, artists, performances, and venue, visit thekate.tv, Facebook.com/TheKateTV, or Twitter.com/TheKateTV. To interact with the series via Twitter, use #TheKateTV.
About Connecticut Public Broadcasting
The Connecticut Public (CPBN) is home to CPTV, WNPR and the Learning Lab. CPTV is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, including original documentaries, public affairs and educational programming. WNPR is an affiliate of National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. The Learning Lab serves high school seniors through a partnership with Hartford Public Schools and the Journalism and Media Academy Magnet School. It is also home to the Institute for Advanced Media, a program that provides the men and women of our armed forces and adult learners an opportunity to learn skills necessary for the 21st century digital media workplace. For more information, visit cpbn.org.
About the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (also known locally as “the Kate”) is a not-for-profit performing arts organization located in the historic theater/town hall on Main Street in Old Saybrook. Originally opened in 1911, and reopened in 2009, the building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After state of the art renovations, the venue includes a 250-seat theater that presents work in several genres including music, theater, opera, dance, comedy, film, and a variety of children’s programming. The theater lobby boasts a small museum honoring Katharine Hepburn, Old Saybrook’s most celebrated resident.