Norm Lewis & Liz Callaway to Star in Cincinnati Pops' YES, VIRGINIA World Premiere Concert, 12/14
The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra will perform the world concert premiere of Macy's Yes, Virginia in Concert at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, at Music Hall. The family-friendly performance is developed and presented by Macy's and will feature John Morris Russell conducting the Pops along with singers and actors in a semi-staged adaptation under the stage direction of Patrick Boyd. Headlining the cast for the world concert premiere are Broadway veterans Liz Callaway, performing the role of Miriam, and Norm Lewis, as Mr. Church. The role of eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon will be performed by Gracie Alexander. This will be the world premiere performance of the fully orchestrated concert version of the musical with book and lyrics by William Schermerhorn and music by Wesley Whatley. "Yes, Virginia The Musical" was created by Macy's in 2012 as part of its annual holiday Believe campaign.
Award-winning local actor Joshua Steele (also the managing director for theatre at The Carnegie in Northern Kentucky) will perform the role of Scraggly Santa; Aiden Hubbard, a member of the Cincinnati Boychoir, will perform the role of Ollie; and Claire Northcut will perform the role of Charlotte. This will be the Cincinnati Pops debut for all performers. The performance also features The May Festival Youth Chorus (James Bagwell, director) and The Studio for Dance of Cincinnati (Shari Poff, director), along with other surprise special guests.
The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra extends special thanks to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department; Amy Dennison and Elaine Eckstein; and Cincinnati Boychoir, Christopher Eanes, director.
Tickets for Macy's Yes, Virginia in Concert are currently available ($10/child, $20/adult). More information and tickets are available by calling the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra Box Office at 513.381.3300 or visiting www.cincinnatipops.org.
This new musical has its origins in 1897, when eight-year old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote the New York Sun newspaper in New York City asking if Santa Claus really existed. One of the paper's editors, Francis Pharcellus Church, wrote an impassioned response that has become the most reprinted editorial from any English language newspaper. The reading and interpretation of O'Hanlon and Church's words have become popular Christmas traditions for many and was the inspiration for Macy's holiday Believe campaign. Virginia's story was first re-imagined as the animated special Yes, Virginia, which debuted on CBS in 2009. The song, Yes Virginia (There is a Santa Claus ) lyrics by William Schermerhorn and music by Wesley Whatley, was performed in the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2010 by Ann Hampton Callaway, for which it won a EMMY Award. In celebration of the fifth anniversary of Believe, Macy's developed a school musical adaptation of the story and made the script and score available royalty-free to schools across the country and offered $100,000 in grants to support schools' productions. That same year, the story was also presented as a marionette show for Macy's Herald Square flagship in New York City. Yes, Virginia in Concert is the first orchestrated concert version of the story and will have its premiere performance in Cincinnati with the Pops.
"We're thrilled to be partnering with Macy's to bring this new musical to life," said Cincinnati Pops Conductor John Morris Russell. "Having a world premiere is a special treat, and we're looking forward to sharing this wonderful adaptation with Cincinnati for the holiday season."
For the 2012 CD release, Home for the Holidays, the Cincinnati Pops recorded the original "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" letter and editorial set to Elgar's "Nimrod" from the Enigma Variations, and read by Alma Russell and Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell. Yes, Virginia is central to Macy's Believe campaign during the holidays, and the Home for the Holidays album also included the Pops performing "I Believe" by Macy's Yes, Virginia in Concert writers Wesley Whatley and William Schermerhorn. This song is another central piece to the campaign and has been featured in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.