Photo Coverage: Andrew Lippa in the O.C.

Broadway stars and admirers of composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa gathered to sing him praise along with support for the California Conservatory of the Arts at the Orange County Performing Arts Center December 19.

Lippa, who is perhaps best known for his Outer Critics Circle Award winning musical, The Wild Party, also wrote songs for Broadway's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, took to the Smaueli Hall stage playing piano as Stephanie J. Block (The Pirate Queen), Danny Gurwin (Little Women), Jonele Allen (The Two Gentlemen of Verona) and other friends sang a multitude of Lippa melodies and holiday favorites. Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn), starring in the upcoming Los Angeles production of Wicked, cancelled her appearance at the last minute due to illness.

For the first half of the evening, many alumni and current student of the Conservatory infused the cabaret-style evening with Christmas songs and Broadway melodies, including "The Movie in My Mind," "Believe," and a wonderfully bashful rendition of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve."

Kamilah Martin Marshall, from the original Broadway cast of Hairspray and alumnus of the Conservatory, was in charge of wrangling up many of the gang to raise awareness for the school and join in the celebration of Lippa's work. "When I saw The Wild Party, I just couldn't believe musical theatre could be so amazing," she said. "It blew me away. So when David (Green) called and asked if I'd be interested, I immediately said yes."

Block, also a Conservatory alumus, concluded the first act with heart-felt thanks for having the opportunity to return to her roots then breezed into a smashing performance of Wicked's "Defying Gravity," which she recently sang on the National Tour of the production.

The rest of the night was filled with Lippa's tunes, including music from his upcoming show, Asphalt Beach. Many of the evening's stars gathered on stage ending out the night with a soulful rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," but not before Lippa began an impromptu auction to win a personally composed song by Lippa for any event, raising money for the Conservatory. Due to popular demand, and an eager audience, two songs were auctioned off by Lippa for $2100 each.

Aside from the movie-musical Asphalt Beach, Lippa is writing the score for Betty Boop with playwright David Lindsay-Abaire and is finishing work on Jerry Christmas with playwright Daniel Goldfarb.

"The California Conservatory of the Arts is a comprehensive, pre-professional training ground for talented young people, selected by audition, from all parts of Orange County and neighboring communities with aspirations for careers in the arts. The school provides training in Dance, Film and Television, Musical Theatre and the Visual arts and all faculty members are working professional artists in their respective fields," state notes.

For more information on the California Conservatory of the Arts, visit:

Photos by Michelle Teeter

Stephanie J. Block, Andrew Lippa, Danny Gurwin

Stephanie J. Block and the Kids Next Door

Terron Brooks and Kamilah Martin Marshall

Stephanie J. Block

Terron Brooks

Andrew Lippa and the Kids Next Door

David Green

Andrew Lippa and Stephanie J. Block

Jonelle Allen

Andrew Lippa

Jonelle Allen

Andrew Lippa

David Green and Stephanie J. Block

Andrew Lippa

Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Lippa

Stephanie J. Block

Andrew Lippa and the Kids Next Door

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James Sims James Sims is the Senior Editor at Beyond his duties on this website, James also contributes as a featured blogger for the Huffington Post. (read more...)

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