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DEFYING GRAVITY Down Under: Sutton Foster, Aaron Tveit & Betty Buckley Head to Oz for Stephen Schwartz Concert

DEFYING GRAVITY Down Under: Sutton Foster, Aaron Tveit & Betty Buckley Head to Oz for Stephen Schwartz Concert

Broadway and screen stars, Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit. Australia's first MISS SAIGON, Joanna Ampil. Beloved home grown talents, Helen Dallimore and David Harris. Oh, and the legendary stage, film and television actress, Betty Buckley. You're not dreaming, Australian musical theatre fans! This is the stellar cast producer Enda Markey will bring to the Theatre Royal stage next February for DEFYING GRAVITY, a world-premiere concert celebrating the songs of Stephen Schwartz.

They're songs that have garnered composer and lyricist Schwartz multiple Academy and Grammy Awards for his stage and screen hits. As the DEFYING GRAVITY poster says, his work spans GODSPELL to WICKED - with an indelible list of movie classics in between, including POCAHONTAS, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and ENCHANTED.

"Stephen's body of work is so thrilling and diverse," says Markey.

"I really wanted to celebrate his incredible career in one evening. I'm thrilled to have been able to gather some of the most exciting performers in the world to bring these songs to life."

Sydney-based Markey has a habit of gathering exciting performers for his productions. His 2012 benefit concert, SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM featured a slew of Australia's best, along with West End star Ruthie Henshall. More recently, his international tour of DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING featured musical theatre superstars Lea Salonga and Michael Ball.

For DEFYING GRAVITY, Markey has once again assembled an eclectic cast of award winners and crossover stars. Together with Guy Simpson as Musical Director, and Andrew Pole as Director, Markey has been working on DEFYING GRAVITY for the past few months, and he admits bringing such a cast together is never an easy task.

"With an event like this, it's always a balancing act of availability and scheduling," Markey explains.

"But it's worked out wonderfully. Aaron Tveit will just have finished GREASE, LIVE in the US. Sutton Foster will be in New Zealand just before she comes here, so I'm pleased I could entice her to cross the ditch!"

"I've wanted to work with Joanna Ampil for a long time," he adds.

"Hers is one of my favourite theatre voices. She played Kim in the original Australian production of MISS SAIGON, so it's great that she can come back for this show, all these years later."

As for Betty Buckley, Markey considers the Broadway legend to be "one of the finest interpreters of musical theatre in history - and one of the most exciting performers I've ever seen on stage."

Though Buckley has been to Australia, Markey says DEFYING GRAVITY brings her to Sydney for the very first time.

"It is thrilling that she'll be with us to celebrate Stephen's work - her first ever appearance in Sydney. I can't wait!"

DEFYING GRAVITY also has two of Markey's favourite local performers flying the flag for Australian talent, David Harris and Helen Dallimore.

"I'm excited that David could come back to Australia [from New York] to perform in this show - he's one of this country's greatest leading men, and he'll be thrilling in this show.

I've just worked with Helen on BLOOD BROTHERS, and I loved that experience. It's especially exciting that Australian audiences will get a glimpse of just how wonderful she was as Glinda in the original West End cast of WICKED."

As for the cast themselves, they each have their own intimate connection to the works of Stephen Schwartz, and they're all looking forward to DEFYING GRAVITY here in Sydney.

"The first song I ever performed of Stephen's was Corner of the Sky, from PIPPIN," says Harris.

"I first met him in 2010 when I performed in his concert at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and to sing the same song, with Stephen accompanying me on piano, was a huge thrill for me. I am excited to once again celebrate him and his work."

For Dallimore, she says WICKED changed her life forever.

"This was my first West End leading role, and it was such a privilege to perform in such an iconic show, opposite Idina Menzel. Without doubt, the highlight of my career."

"I've been a huge fan for many years," adds Ampil.

"Corner of the Sky, is a favorite of mine. Then WICKED came, which is one of the ultimate shows in musical theatre history - I've been obsessed. I cannot believe I'll be part of this dream show - I feel so lucky!"

Buckley, who played Catherine in PIPPIN during the musical's first Broadway run, is also unequivocal in her admiration.

"I love Stephen Schwartz's songs," she says.

"I love his passionate music! He is one of the best writers of character story songs in the Musical Theater. His songs are soaring with beautiful articulate poetic images. I love his work!"

DEFYING GRAVITY Down Under: Sutton Foster, Aaron Tveit & Betty Buckley Head to Oz for Stephen Schwartz ConcertFans will also get to learn more about that work when Schwartz sits down with Walkley Award-winning journalist (and musical theatre fan!), Leigh Sales. Sales, one of Australia's most respected media figures, will interview Schwartz at the Theatre Royal in a ticketed event that will also include performances by special guests.

Mark your calendars, Aussie theatre fans. DEFYING GRAVITY is heading for Oz February 13th, 2016 and you won't want to miss it!

Enda Markey Presents:

DEFYING GRAVITY

The Songs of Stephen Schwartz

SATURDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2016

3pm & 8pm

THEATRE ROYAL, SYDNEY

For more tickets and more information on DEFYING GRAVITY click here.

DEFYING GRAVITY Down Under: Sutton Foster, Aaron Tveit & Betty Buckley Head to Oz for Stephen Schwartz Concert

Images: Supplied

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Jacqueline "Rock" Bublitz is a Melbourne-based writer who saw a local production of Annie aged 5, and was never quite the same. Since that first (read more...)

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