Lea DeLaria, Rumer Willis and More Join American Pops for Holiday Concert Tonight
Maestro Luke Frazier and THE AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA - Washington, DC's innovative hometown orchestra - will present a special holiday concert not to be missed, with special guest stars Rumer Willis ("Dancing with the Stars," Broadway's Chicago), Lea DeLaria (Broadway, comedy and jazz star, "Orange is the New Black"), Claybourne Elder ("Gossip Girl," Broadway's Sunday in the Park...), Nova Payton (Helen Hayes Award winner), Mobley (singer/songwriter featured on HBO, Fox and NBC) and Luke Hawkins (Star tap dancer from "America's Got Talent").
The orchestra's conductor and founder Luke Frazier, will lead "The American Pops Hosts the Holidays" in an evening that boasts a 25-piece orchestra and classic seasonal music tonight, December 15 at 8:00 PM. Song highlights include "Santa Baby," "The Christmas Song," "O Holy Night," "Merry Christmas, Darling," "River," and "Mele Kalikimaka."
Luke Frazier explains, "The holidays are always a special time in Washington, DC and the fact that the APO gets to celebrate with such an extraordinary and varied group of artists is that much greater. We're excited to branch out and bring our special brand of music to the MGM National Harbor."
The 2017-2018 season will continue with Around the World in 80 Days, a new family-oriented musical (January 6, two performances) and Let's Misbehave: Cole Porter After Dark with Mo Rocca, Liz Callaway and more (May 19). Tickets to all shows are on sale now at www.TheAmericanPops.org.
THE AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA founded by Luke Frazier presents innovative orchestral programming, featuring groundbreaking concepts to develop and inspire a new audience for the 21st century. This professional orchestra boasts outstanding musicians from New York and Washington, DC. The American Pops presented six original orchestral programs in its opening 2015-2016 season, featuring leading Broadway singers, dancers, and actors. Highlights of the first season included "Stairway to Paradise: A Gershwin Spectacular" starring two-time Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole - which was hailed by DC Metro Theater Arts for "inspired arrangements of beloved Gershwin songs that reinvigorate the material and highlight the skill of his musicians" - and "A Broadway Christmas" featuring Elaine Paige, the first Lady of the British Musical Stage. APO's second season included a 75th birthday concert for Barbra Streisand, hosted by Fran Drescher; a celebration of the 80s, hosted by Olympic champion Greg Louganis; and a special World War II-era evening, commemorating Veterans Day.
Other high-profile performances include a special event at The Kennedy Center hosted by Tommy Tune; the Hispanic Heritage Awards, with Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Arturo Sandoval, which was nationally broadcast on PBS; theatreWashington's Helen Hayes Awards; The Giving Pledge at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History; the Beacon Prize, given by Human Rights First to honor commitment to the American ideals of freedom and human dignity; and the DC Standing Ovation Awards, celebrating excellence in the DC Public Schools.
Luke Frazier, a rapidly rising star in the Pops world, has proven himself as both an innately musical conductor and a sensitive pianist. His commitment to re-envisioning pops programming has quickly established him as a dynamic force across the music community. Frazier has demonstrated his versatility and range by conducting in venues both grand and intimate, from Lincoln Center to Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center to the Rainbow Room. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch put it best, calling Frazier "so talented, and sensitive to every nuance."
As a testament to his mission to reimagine pops programming, Frazier founded the American Pops Orchestra in 2015, presenting all original programming. His commitment to the American Songbook is also evident through his involvement on the Board of the Great American Songbook Foundation. In demand as a clinician, adjudicator, and speaker, Luke recently addressed the National Symphony Orchestra's "Summer Music Institute" students. He appeared as the Keynote Speaker for the National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) Award for Excellence in the Arts at the Kennedy Center and also addressed the VSA, an international organization for the arts and disability. In addition to founding the National Broadway Chorus in Washington DC, he presented an original program honoring the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald's birth with the DC Youth Orchestra in Spring 2017.
Mr. Frazier has worked with artists such as Angela Lansbury, Darren Criss, Vanessa Williams, Liz Callaway, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mo Rocca, Lea Salonga, Laura Osnes, Eric Owens, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Lindsay Mendez, Renée Fleming, Michael Feinstein, Christine Ebersole, Elaine Paige, Arturo Sandoval, and Norm Lewis, among many others. Twitter: @LSFConductor | www.LukeFrazierMusic.com
Rumer Willis began her acting career as a child, starring with her mother Demi Moore in the major motion pictures Striptease and Now and Then. She most recently won Season 20 of ABC's hit show, "Dancing with the Stars," and immediately after, was a star in Chicago on Broadway. Ms. Willis is currently recording her debut album under the guidance of legendary music icon Linda Perry. Last year, Rumer starred in the pilot of "Songbyrd" for E! Network, based on the life of iconic songwriter Diane Warren. Known around Hollywood for her sultry vocals, Rumer and her band enjoyed a nearly two year Artist Residency at Hollywood hot spot The Sayers Club. Her recent television credits include "Workaholics" and "Hawaii 5-0," and her film credits include House Bunny, Sorority Row, Diary of Preston Plummer and many more. Follow Rumer Willis on Twitter @TheRue and Instagram @RueLarue.
Lea DeLaria seems to have achieved overnight stardom with her two time, SAG Award winning, standout role as Carrie "Big Boo" Black in the Netflix hit series "Orange is the New Black." However, DeLaria's multi-faceted career as a comedian, actress, and jazz musician has, in fact, spanned decades. DeLaria holds the distinction of being the first openly gay comic on television in America which led to countless television and film roles portraying police lieutenants, PE teachers and the lesbian who inappropriately hits on straight women. Selected TV credits: "Awkward," "Clarence," "Californication," "The Oblongs," "One Life to Live," "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," "Will and Grace," "Friends," and "Matlock." Selected film credits: First Wives Club, Dear Dumb Diary, Edge of Seventeen. She's received Obie and Theater World Awards and a Drama Desk nomination for her portrayal as Hildy in The Public Theatre's revival of On The Town, an Ovation nomination for The Boys From Syracuse, and has played both Eddie & Dr. Scott in the gender-bending Broadway musical The Rocky Horror Show. DeLaria was the featured vocalist at the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival, and has performed in some of the most prestigious houses in the world including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Chicago Symphony, Hollywood Bowl, The Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House. DeLaria has five records on the Warner Jazz and Classics label, and her book, Lea's Book of Rules for the World, is in its third printing at Bantam Doubleday and Dell. Her sixth record, House Of David: delaria+bowie=jazz, was released in the Summer of 2015 to critical acclaim. www.LeaDeLaria.com
Claybourne Elder is a Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominee best known for his performances in New York and on Broadway originating the roles of Buck in Bonnie and Clyde, Hollis in Stephen Sondheim's Road Show, and Ollie in Tennessee Williams' One Arm. He was also seen in the NY revivals of Two by Two (starring Jason Alexander), as Joe Jr. in Allegro, as Eddie in Do I Hear A Waltz and the Soldier in Sunday in the Park... both at City Center, as well as Off Broadway in Venice at The Public Theatre. Regionally he has played Joe in Angels in America Parts I and II directed by David Cromer, as George in Sunday in the Park... at the Signature Theatre (Helen Hayes Award Best Musical), as the Wolf/Cinderella's Prince in Moises Kaufman's production of Into the Woods. On television he played Pete O'Malley on the CW series "The Carrie Diaries." www.ClaybourneElder.com
LUKE HAWKING is so thrilled and honored to me performing with the American Pops Orchestra. He has danced in the Broadway productions of Xanadu, Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel (NYC) and Joya (Cancun, Mexico) as well as New York City Center Encores! productions of No, No, Nanette; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; and On Your Toes. He has starred in many regional productions as Don Lockwood in Singin' in the Rain, Ren in Footloose, Huck in Big River, Bert in Mary Poppins, Action in West Side Story, Will Parker in Oklahoma!, Tulsa in Gypsy, Robert in The Drowsy Chaperone and Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me, Kate. His TV and Film credits include tap dancing alongside Channing Tatum in the Coen Brothers' movie Hail, Caesar!, the 2015 Tony Awards, "Gossip Girl," "One Life to Live," "America's Got Talent" and "The Colbert Report." Luke regularly teaches tap at The Broadway Dance Center, is co-owner of the Hawkins School of Performing Arts in Folsom California and Co-Artistic Director of The Hawkins Tap Company. Luke is a soloist tap dancer with the Manhattan Symphonie Orchestra that tours China annually. @luketaps. www.LukeHawkins.com
MOBLEY's work has been marked by solitude, ingenuity, and a drive that could only be called obsessive. Whether you experience him on record or at one of his incredible concerts, the passion is palpable in every aspect. He writes, performs, & produces his music, designs his artwork, directs his videos, produces his multimedia live shows, and even builds new instruments to carry out his vision. Over the past couple years, he's composed dozens of pieces for stage and television (with placements on HBO, Fox, and NBC), played 200+ national tour dates (with the likes of Phantogram, JUNGLE, Mutemath, Robert Delong, & Wavves and at festivals like ACL, SXSW, CMJ, Savannah Stopover and Float Fest), and recorded (then scrapped) two whole albums in pursuit of the songs that would become his forthcoming full-length debut, Fresh Lies. The music - which Mobley calls "post-genre pop" - defies easy classification, drawing liberally (often simultaneously) from an array of musical traditions. He's equally at home on a playlist next to The Weeknd and TV on the Radio alike, while his electronic, dub-dabbling production style calls to mind the intricate work of artists like James Blake and Thom Yorke. This fall, he's touring as a one-man band, singing and playing keys, guitar, bass, drums, and samplers. He's spanning the United States and Mexico in support of his newest EP release, Some Other Country, out now on Violent Films.
Nova Payton has shared the stage with well-known artists including Stevie Wonder, Ashford and Simpson, Stephanie Mills, Melba Moore, Yolanda Adams, Anthony Hamilton, Freddie Jackson, The Chi-Lites, The Dramatics, and Will Downing. Nova has been on national tours in 3 Mo' Divas, Smokey Joe's Café, and If This Hat Could Talk. DC theatre credits include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Hairspray, Xanadu, Ain't Misbehavin', Black Nativity, Malik Yoba's Acoustic Chocolate, 8-Track-The Sounds of the '70s, and J's Jook Joint. Nova's soul-stirring portrayal of Effie White in Dreamgirls earned her the 2006 Barrymore nomination for "Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical." The DVD/CD for 3 Mo' Divas received a 2010 NAACP nomination. In 2012, Nova was honored as the Helen Hayes Award recipient for her portrayal of MotorMouth Mabelle in Hairspray at the Signature Theatre. Nova has also appeared on the Jimmy Fallon late-night talk show accompanying artist Glen Hansard. She leads and directs her own choir, Favour at St. Martin's Catholic Church. www.Simply-Nova.com
Kelly Crandall D'AMBOISE (Director) is thrilled to be the Resident Director of The American Pops Orchestra this season. Recent work includes choreography for the APO, Newsies! at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Urinetown at Next Stop Theatre and Tick, Tick...Boom! at Convergence. Upcoming: You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Imagination Stage and Jesus Christ Superstar at CRT. As an Associate Director and/or Choreographer, Kelly has worked on numerous productions including Cabaret, La Cage aux Folles, The Studio, and Crazy for You at Signature Theatre, The Lincoln Center Hall of Fame 2017 and Babes in Toyland at Lincoln Center, the Broadway workshop of Cheer, and productions at South Coast Rep., North Shore Music Theatre, Westport County Playhouse, Trinity Rep, and Busch Gardens Entertainment. Broadway performance credits include the original company of The Boy from Oz with Hugh Jackman, Chicago, Susan Stroman's A Christmas Carol at MSG, and the national tour of The Producers. Film and TV credits include "A Christmas Carol" starring Jim Carrey and directed by Robert Zemeckis, What Women Want, Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular, The Tony Awards, and The Academy Awards with Robin Williams. Kelly is an Artistic Associate and Resident Casting Director at Signature Theatre.