Damon Kirsche, Lee Roy Reams, Vivian Reed and More Slated for 'AMERICAN SHOWSTOPPERS' at Schimmel Center This Fall

By: Sep. 14, 2015

On Friday, October 9, noted orchestrator and conductor Fred Barton will bring the music of Broadway and the American Songbook to the Schimmel Center at Pace University, in AMERICAN SHOWSTOPPERS: AN EVENING OF JOHNNY MERCER. In his seventh concert at Pace, Fred Barton now brings the power of Mercer's music and lyrics front and center, with a 14-piece orchestra and a cast of 16 Broadway singers and dancers, with direction and choreography by Scott Thompson. The cast is headlined by Damon Kirsche, Tony nominee Lee Roy Reams, two time Tony nominee Vivian Reed, Nick Spangler, Tony Nominee Lauren Worsham, and Tony Award winner Karen Ziemba. The cast also features Jesse Luttrell, Sean McGibbon and Molly Pope.

The concert will feature the top Johnny Mercer hit songs drawn from his volume of work, a 1,500-song output which includes no fewer than 18 Oscar-nominated songs. Mercer was the first ever to win four Oscars for Best Song. While he wrote both music and lyrics for some songs, he famously collaborated as a lyricist with a who's-who of the greatest American composers, including Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington, Henry Mancini, Harry Warren, and Jimmy Van Heusen. He wrote prolifically for Hollywood movies, the Hit Parade, and the Broadway stage, and a staggering number of Mercer's songs remain among the best-known and best-loved standards and show songs ever written.

Led by Fred Barton and His Orchestra, the cast of Broadway singers and dancers will present a whirlwind tour of the Johnny Mercer catalogue, from his earliest hits ("Jeepers Creepers") to his classic movie songs ("Blues In The Night," "One For My Baby," "Something's Gotta Give") to his hit pop tunes ("And The Angels Sing," "Goody Goody," "I Wanna Be Around"), to his Broadway hits ("If I Had My Druthers," "Past My Prime," "Top Banana"). Featured will be Mercer's songs from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, consistently voted as one of the top film musicals of all time.

Mercer wrote during the height of the big band era as it emerged from the 1930's, into the 1940's and 1950's, so AMERICAN SHOWSTOPPERS: AN EVENING OF JOHNNY MERCER will be the first time in many decades that Johnny Mercer's songs will be presented as they were meant to be heard: with the jaunty, shattering big band sounds of their day, delivered with precision and simplicity by a Broadway cast steeped in the lore of the era.

Ticket prices for AMERICAN SHOWSTOPPERS: AN EVENING OF JOHNNY MERCER at Schimmel Center at Pace University range from $29-$55. The performance will take place on Friday, October 9at 7:30pm.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit schimmelcenter.org or call toll-free (866) 811-4111. Performances take place at the Schimmel Center at Pace University located at 3 Spruce Street between Park Row and Gold Street in downtown Manhattan. Wine is served in the Schimmel Center lobby from our cash bar starting one hour prior to show. Subscription series and single tickets are available now. To purchase: Online at schimmelcenter.org; By phone via The Ovation Tix Call Center at (866) 811-4111; In person in advance at Schimmel Center Box Office (212) 346-1715, open Mon-Fri from 1pm-6pm; Day of Show at Schimmel Center box office beginning at 12pm.

FRED BARTON (Host, Producer, Orchestrator, Conductor). Fred Barton's symphony arrangements are played regularly by the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and major symphonies around the country. On Broadway and national tour, Fred conducted Anthony Quinn in Zorba, Hal Prince's production of Cabaret, Cy Coleman's City of Angels and Robert Goulet in Camelot; he played in the pit of Cy Coleman's The Will Rogers Follies; and appeared as actor and musical director in Coleman's Lawyers, Lovers, and Lunatics. Fred is currently co-librettist, musical supervisor and arranger for the Broadway-bound Harold Arlen musical One for My Baby. Fred debuted in New York as the original arranger/pianist for Forbidden Broadway. Fred's TV credits as composer and arranger include HBO's Cathouse: The Musical, Olivia, Wonder Pets!, and The Magic School Bus (Emmy Award). He has produced and arranged numerous CDs.

SCOTT THOMPSON (Director/Choreographer) has won numerous awards directing and choreographing some of Broadway's brightest talents in over one hundred productions nationwide. Scott Thompson is the Director, Choreographer and Creator of the new Broadway Bound Musical One for My Baby, which showcases the music of the legendary Harold Arlen. Scott directed Tony Award winner Betty Buckley in her first Gypsy, country music legend Larry Gatlin in The Music Man and Tony Award winner Cady Huffman in Damn Yankees. For the Library of Congress, he choreographed an all-star Gershwin Gala starring five-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, recording star Dawn Upshaw and Tony Award nominees Lara Teeter, David Garrison and Wanda Richert. Scott also created, directed and choreographed all the musical numbers for the HBO's Cathouse - The Musical, a documentary special shot in a genuine, active brothel outside Carson City Nevada.

DAMON KIRSCHE is a leading interpreter of Traditional Popular Songs: Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, Swing, Big Band, West Coast Jazz and American Songbook standards from the Golden Age of Broadway and Hollywood. On screen, Kirsche can be seen as Civil War era performer Harry McCarthy in Ted Turner's epic Gods and Generals, gadfly talent scout Ranny Sanson in the TV series LA Confidential, or as the first Nuu'bari to appear on StarTrek: Voyager. Kirsche can be heard on vintage swing recordings Goblin Market and Devil's Serenade and is featured on the recording In Here: Music and Lyrics by Charles Bloom, as well as on the Decca Broadway Original Cast album of The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, and the Carnegie Hall archival recording of The Gershwins' Tip-Toes.

LEE ROY REAMS (Principal Performer) has played leading roles in ten Broadway shows: The Producers (Carbonell, Helen Hayes and Las Vegas Life awards); 42nd Street (Tony and Drama Desk nominations); Beauty and the Beast; Hello, Dolly!; Lorelei; Oklahoma!; La Cage aux Folles; Applause; Sweet Charity; and An Evening with Jerry Herman. He's also directed two Broadway shows: Hello, Dolly! (1994) and An Evening with Jerry Herman. His concert, TV and cabaret appearances have taken him to the White House and around the world. He has performed before four U.S. Presidents: Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Most recently, he played to sold out houses at 54 Below. He is the proud recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, CCM/University of Cincinnati.

VIVIAN REED (Principal Performer) is a multi-award winner with two TONY NOMINATIONS, DRAMA DESK AWARD, THEATRE WORLD AWARD, OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, DANCE EDUCATION OF AMERICA AWARD, NAACP AWARD and several others. Vivian created the part of, "Young Irene," in the Broadway musical, Bubbling Brown Sugar. She was nominated for a Tony Award for that performance. She has appeared on many TV variety and talk shows both nationally and internationally including The Tonight Show, The Today Show and the ABC-TV daytime drama, One Life to Live. She has shared the bill with notable performers as Pattie Labelle, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Elaine Stritch, Alan King, Sammy Davis Jr., and Quincy Jones just to name a few. Her film credits include Heading for Broadway, L'Africaine with Catherine Deneuve and Le Rumba, in which she portrayed Josephine Baker. Recently she produced and starred in a short film, What Goes Around written by Angela Gibbs.

NICK SPANGLER (Principal Performer) has appeared on Broadway in the original companies of The Book of Mormon, Cinderella and It Shoulda Been You. His Off-Broadway performance as Matt in The Fantasticks garnered him the Theater Hall of Fame; Elaine and Jerry Orbach Fellowship Award. Regional favorites include The Sound of Music at Carnegie Hall, the world premiere of GIANT at The Signature Theater, Saved (Kansas City Rep) Avenue X (Alliance Theater) Fantasy Football: the musical? (NYMF). In 2008, Nick was the winner of the reality series The Amazing Race on CBS.

LAUREN WORSHAM (Principal Performer) is a Drama Desk Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated actress and singer. She recently completed her run on Broadway in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical). Other favorite roles include Lisa in Dog Days at Montclair Peak Performances, Fort Worth Opera and LA Opera (dir. Robert Woodruff), Flora in Turn of the Screw at New York City Opera (dir. Sam Buntrock), Amy in Where's Charley at New York City Center (dir. John Doyle), Cunegonde in New York City Opera's Candide, and Olive in the first National tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She is the recipient of a 2014 Drama Desk and a 2014 Theatre World Award for her performance in Gentleman's Guide. In addition to her work in theater and opera, Lauren is the lead singer for the rock band Sky-Pony. Lauren performs in concert frequently, including shows at Carnegie Hall, Caramoor, Merkin Hall, Oregon Bach Festival, Joe's Pub, Galapagos Art Space and New York City Opera's VOX Program.

KAREN ZIEMBA (Principal Performer) received the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for her performance in Contact at Lincoln Center Theatre. Other Broadway, Off-Broadway and Regional appearances include: Bullets Over Broadway; Curtains (Outer Critics Circle award, Tony nomination); Crazy for You; Chicago; Never Gonna Dance (Outer Critics Circle Award, Tony nomination); And the World Goes 'Round (Drama Desk award); Steel Pier (Tony nomination); I Do! I Do! (Drama Desk nomination); Sweeney Todd; 110 in the Shade; The Most Happy Fella; Bye, Bye Birdie; The Pajama Game; Hello, Dolly!; Boeing-Boeing; Much Ado About Nothing; Brighton Bean Memoirs; Broadway Bound; Heresy; Sylvia; and Six Degrees of Separation. Karen has appeared in several episodes of the many "Law and Order" series; The Kennedy Center Honors in tributes to Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris; and in PBS's "Great Performances," including "Sondheim: A Celebration At Carnegie Hall," "My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies," and "Gershwin at 100."

JESSE LUTTRELL (Featured Performer) is considered by many to be the consummate "modern-day" vaudevillian. He has appeared nationally and internationally in musicals, cabaret, and concert engagements. His critically acclaimed vaudeville/burlesque musical revue Bawdy has been running in New York City at Stage72/The Triad since 2009. Select theatrical credits include: Joseph..., Cabaret, The Rocky Horror Show and Cats. Jesse trained and danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and The Rock School/Pennsylvania Ballet.

SEAN McGIBBON (Featured Performer), at a young age, has established himself as a master song-and-tap-dance man of the old school. He recently returned to New York after headlining the first national tour of MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET. Previously Sean appeared in the 25th Anniversary national tour of THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, as well as in the City Center Encores production of ON YOUR TOES, directed by Warren Carlisle. At the Goodspeed Opera House he was featured in THE GREAT AMERICAN MOUSICAL, directed by Julie Andrews.

MOLLY POPE (Featured Performer) is a critically acclaimed cabarettist and actress whose shows have played Joe's Pub, Feinstein's at Loews Regency, Ars Nova, The Laurie Beechman Theater and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Australia. She has been named a Time Out New York Top Ten Cabaret Act of 2008 and 2012 and a Village Voice Best of NYC 2011 for "Best Singer to Turn Life Into a Cabaret". Branded the "kicky, neoretro cabaret chanteuse" and hailed for her "shredding alto" (Time Out New York), she was a regular cast member in the hit downtown variety show, Our Hit Parade at Joe's Pub and is a frequent guest at the award-winning The Meeting* with Justin Sayre. She has also performed as part of the Afterglow Festival in Provincetown, The Cabaret Convention at Jazz at Lincoln Center and 15:54 at 54 Below. On stage she has appeared as Mama in Dan Fishback's The Material World (Dixon Place), FOUND (Atlantic Theater Co, New York Stage & Film) Adah Isaacs Menken in The Fickle Mistress (Dixon Place), Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town (Gallery Players), Kat in Mr. Irresistible (La MaMa).

Schimmel Center at Pace University, located within the University's downtown campus, has been an active part of Manhattan's artistic community for 35 years. Located one block east of City Hall and immediately adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge, Schimmel Center's 655-seat theatre regularly hosts academic and community events in addition to its yearly schedule of the world's finest music, theatre and dance. Over the past twelve years, Schimmel Center has served as a founding venue for The River-to-River Festival (2002), hosted both The Tribeca Film Festival and The Tribeca Theatre Festival (2001), provided a headquarters for The National Actors Theatre (2002 to 2004), presented the only Democratic Presidential Debate to present all ten candidates for the 2004 election, and actively hosts James Lipton's award-winning Bravo series Inside the Actors Studio, taped on Schimmel Center's stage since 2005.

For more than 100 years, Pace University has helped prepare students to become leaders in their fields by providing an education that combines exceptional academics with professional experience. Pace has three campuses in New York City, Westchester and White Plains. A private metropolitan university, Pace enrolls approximately 13,500 students in bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, via its rapidly growing Performing Arts Department, Lienhard School of Nursing, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems and School of Law.


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