Barbara Cook Set for SOPAC's Annual Gala, 5/31

Barbara Cook Set for SOPAC's Annual Gala, 5/31

The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) announces Broadway and Cabaret legend Barbara Cook will appear at its annual Gala on Sat., May 31. Ms. Cook's highly anticipated performance will take place at 9 p.m. following an elegant dinner in the SOPAC Loft at 6 p.m., coupled with an online and live auction of unique and precious gifts and experiences. Families will join the celebration during the day with a Super-Hero workshop by Kidville at 10:30 a.m. and a free performance by fun and funky musician Bobby Beetcut at noon. Seating is available for the gala dinner and Ms. Cook's performance, or for the performance only. The gala is being presented in support of SOPAC's Arts Education and Programming.

Events during the gala evening will also include acknowledging and celebrating three people who have supported SOPAC in extraordinary ways: Edward E. Ayuso II, a South Orange developer who lends his business acumen, Milly Iris, whose interest in visual art led to the creation of the Herb & Milly Iris Art Gallery at SOPAC, and John Lee, a jazz musician who has curated music events in the Loft at SOPAC. They have made invaluable contributions with their experience, artistry and commitment to the success of SOPAC.

Tickets for the gala celebration and the family events can be purchased at www.sopacnow.org, or by calling (973) 313-ARTS (2787). Auction items will be available for bidding online May 19-31 at www.biddingforgood.com.

The South Orange Performing Arts Center is located at 1 SOPAC Way, South Orange, NJ 07079.

Those who wish to support SOPAC's arts education programming may call (973) 382.1033 to make a donation. The South Orange Performing Arts Center is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit charitable organization

Barbara Cook's silvery soprano, purity of tone, and warm presence have delighted audiences around the world for more than 50 years. Considered "Broadway's favorite ingenue" during the heyday of the Broadway musical, Ms. Cook then launched a second career as a concert and recording artist soaring from one professional peak to another.

Whether on the stages of major international venues throughout the world or in the intimate setting of New York's Café Carlyle or Feinstein's at the Regency, Barbara Cook's popularity continues to thrive - as evidenced by her 1997 birthday concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Albert Hall in London, a succession of 6 triumphant returns to Carnegie Hall where she made a legendary solo concert debut in 1975, and an ever-growing mantle of honors including the Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. She received a citation as a Living New York Landmark and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

In January 2006 Ms. Cook made her solo concert debut at the Metropolitan Opera Company, making her the first female pop singer to be presented by the MET in the company's 123 year history. The sold-out event was recorded and released as a live performance cd by DRG Records.

In November 2007 Ms. Cook achieved yet another career high when she celebrated her 80th birthday in concert with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. Due to popular demand two encore performances of the critically acclaimed concert played to sold-out houses.

A 2011 Kennedy Center honoree, Ms. Cook recently returned to the Broadway stage after a 23-year absence, and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in the musical Sondheim on Sondheim, directed by James Lapine, for the Roundabout Theater Company.

A native of Atlanta, Barbara Cook made her Broadway debut in 1951 as the ingenue lead in the musical Flahooley. She subsequently played Ado Annie in the City Center revival of Oklahoma!, followed by a national tour of that hit show. In 1954 her performance as Carrie Pipperidge in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel led to the role of Hilda Miller in the original production of Plain and Fancy. Ms. Cook went on to create the role of Cunegonde in the original production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide. This was followed by her creations of two classic roles in the America musical theatre -- Marian the Librarian in the premiere production of Meredith Willson's The Music Man, a performance which earned her the Tony Award, and Amalia in the Bock-Harnick-Masteroff musical She Loves Me. In addition to starring roles in The Gay Life, and The Grass Harp, Ms. Cook played Mrs. Anna in the legendary City Center revival of The King and I and appeared in a second production of Carousel at City Center, this time playing the role of Julie Jordan. Some time later she played Magnolia in the New York State Theatre's production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's fabled Showboat. Ms. Cook originated the role of Patsy in Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, and in 1972 she again returned to the dramatic stage in the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center's production of Gorky's Enemies.

In 1974, Ms. Cook began a creative partnership with musical arranger, accompanist, composer, dance arranger and conductor Wally Harper, a shining model of artistic collaboration and enduring friendship, which lasted for nearly thirty-one years until his death in 2004. Numerous recordings mark the journey of this unique partnership, beginning with Barbara Cook at Carnegie Hall, a live recording of their legendary 1975 Carnegie Hall debut, now freshly re-released by Sony Records. A subsequent engagement at Carnegie Hall in September 1980 was captured on It's Better With a Band, produced and arranged by Mr. Harper. Ms. Cook and Mr. Harper traveled the world together and performed a number of times at the White House - for Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

In September 1985 Ms. Cook appeared with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as Sally in the renowned concert version of Stephen Sondheim's Follies. She also recorded Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel and The Disney Album for the MCA record label. Nominated in 1986 for an Olivier Award for her one-woman show at London's Albery Theatre, Ms. Cook received the Drama Desk Award in 1987 for her Broadway show A Concert for the Theatre. In October 1991 Ms. Cook's appearance as a featured artist at the Carnegie Hall Gala Music and Remembrance: A Celebration of Great Musical Partnerships underscored her commitment to two important causes: the advancement of the performing arts and support of AIDS research. Ms. Cook was one of the only American performers chosen to perform at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival in the fabled Sydney Opera House. Musical America selected her as their 2007 Vocalist of the Year, the first pop singer to be so honored by this classical performing arts organization.

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