The Baton Rouge area audience doesn’t disappear during the summer, so why should the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra?
The orchestra usually ends its season of performances in May but is sticking around to play some show tunes in its “Bravo Broadway!” concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18, in the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts. They’ll be joined by three Broadway stars.
“These are true stars on Broadway with one winning a Tony, another nominated for a Tony and the other winning all kinds of other awards,” says Associate Conductor David Torns, who also is the orchestra’s principal pops conductor. “And when we have three guest performers, we have more possibilies on stage. They can mix it up more with solos, duets and all three singing together.”
The All Star Automotive Pops Series is a way for the orchestra is lighten things up not only for the audience but itself.
“We’re experimenting with a summer concert this year,” Torns says. “This is the latest we’ve ever gone in a season, and we’re going to see what happens when we perform one of the lighter concerts in June.”
Joining the orchestra will be Debbie Gravitte, Tony Award winner for best featured actress in a musical for her performance in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” She also has performed with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, pianist Lang Lang and the Chinese Philharmonic in Beijing and the New York Pops.
Also featured will be Doug LaBrecque, who has performed the roles of the “Phantom” and “Raoul” in “The Phantom of the Opera.” He also has performed as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, and the Vancouver and Calgary symphonies in Canada.
Rounding out the guest roster will be Christiane Noll, who made her opera debut with Placido Domingo and the Washington National Opera in “The Merry Widow.” She was nominated for both a 2010 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award, and she also was a Helen Hayes Award winner for her portrayal of “Mother” on Broadway for the Kennedy Center revival of “Ragtime.”
“These stars are all currently active on Broadway,” Torns says. “They will be singing songs from Broadway’s most famous musicals, including ‘Crazy for You,’ ‘Showboat,’ ‘Cabaret,’ ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Chicago,’ ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Wicked.’ The melodies will range from soft ballads to comic to dramatic and fiery.”
The orchestra will rehearse with the singers when they arrive in Baton Rouge on the day of the performance. The concert not only gives orchestra members a chance to accompany Broadway stars but to play different kinds of music.
“It’s fun for our musicians, because they enjoy playing different music,” Torns says. “They go from playing Mozart and Beethoven on one night to playing Gershwin and Andrew Lloyd Webber on another. We’ve just finished up playing the concert at the Rural Life Museum with the ‘American Idol’ finalists, and we had a great time. That music was different from the Broadway music we’ll be performing this time, and that’s fun for us.”
The Pops series has featured a variety of music in past seasons, including Motown.
“We’re always going to mix it up and offer something different,” Torns says. “This time we’re trying it during the summer.”