The Philly POPS Honors Marvin Hamlisch in HAMLISCH: WITH LOVE
The Philly POPS starts the new year with a tip of the hat to one of Broadway's greatest luminaries, Marvin Hamlisch, conducted by Marvin's mentee and friend, Music Director Todd Ellison, January 17-19, 2020. HAMLISCH: With Love features Disney Broadway powerhouse Ashley Brown and four Musical Theater students from Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance.
A precocious child, Marvin was admitted at age six into the Juilliard School, making him, at the time, the youngest person ever admitted into the program. Marvin's music continues to touch people worldwide-with works stretching from Broadway (with A Chorus Line and They're Playing Our Song) to Hollywood (with The Way We Were and The Sting). Marvin is one of two people to be named a PEGOT (a Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner)-making him a key figure in Broadway's history.
At the time of his passing, Marvin was preparing to assume the role of Music Director for The Philly POPS. Now, his mentee and friend Music Director Todd Ellison leads the POPS in this all-new program, honoring Marvin's contributions to music, as well as Todd's friendship with the storied composer.
"This is a show of my favorite pieces of music that he wrote," Ellison said. "Not just the big hits, but those which show off his range and his talent." Noteworthy songs in the show include Marvin's breakout hit "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" from Ski Party, "At The Ballet" from A Chorus Line, and "Nobody Does It Better," which he co-wrote for the iconic James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.
This show's featured guest artist, Ashley Brown, previously appeared in 2018's smash-hit Sinatra & Friends show, where her rendition of "My Way" received a standing ovation. She debuted with The Philly POPS BIG Band at PARX Casino in June for Big Band Broadway with Ashley Brown, and will appear with the POPS again on April 4 and 5 for Disney's Broadway Hits, where she will sing songs from Mary Poppins, her star role on Broadway.
Making their Philly POPS debuts are four Temple University Musical Theater students, Isabel Robin, Alexa Joseph, Alana Robinson, and Jordan Hayes. As a partner with Temple University, The Philly POPS provides these performance opportunities as part of its POPS in Schools programming-to give these students the experience of singing with the full POPS orchestra, and for the experience of singing alongside Ashley Brown. "We're lucky to have [these] students singing 'At the Ballet' from A Chorus Line and a medley of early Lesley Gore pop hits. Marvin loved new talent."
One special element that Ellison has added into the show is a nod to Marvin's revival of ragtime music-particularly music of the "King of Ragtime," Scott Joplin. "Marvin brought ragtime craze back into fashion," Ellison said. "I've also put together an arrangement of Scott Joplin rags, and I'll be playing the piano with orchestra." Marvin helped re-popularize Joplin's song "The Entertainer" with his orchestration for the 1973 film, The Sting, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and Adaptation.
Above all, the performance will showcase Marvin's love for music, and how it shaped who he was. "'What I Did for Love' from A Chorus Line is my favorite song by Marvin, because it sums up his life. Everything he did was for music."
HAMLISCH: With Love runs January 17-19 at The Kimmel Center for The Performing Arts.
Tickets are available at www.phillypops.org/hamlisch.
About Ashley Brown
Ashley Brown originated the title role ina??Mary Poppinsa??on Broadway for which she received Outer Critics, Drama League, and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress. Ashley also starred as Mary Poppins in the national tour which earned her a 2010 Garland award for "Best Performance in a Musical."
Her other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and The Beast, and she has starred in the national tour of Disney'sa??On The Record. Ashley recently returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to star in the role of Laurey in Oklahoma.a?? She previously played Magnolia opposite Nathan Gunn in Francesca Zembello'sa??Showboata??at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Ashley has performed with virtually all of the top orchestras in North America. She has also performed with the BBC orchestra opposite Josh Groban. Ashley made her solo concert debut at the Kennedy Center as part of Barbara Cook'sa??Spotlight Series, and has appeared in New York City at prestigious venues including Feinstein's at the Regency and Birdland.
Other projects include a star turn at the La Jolla Playhouse in a production ofa??Limelight,a??Sound of Musica??at the St. Louis MUNY which garnered her a Kevin Kline award, and her own PBS special calleda??Ashley Brown: Call Me Irresponsiblea??which received a PBS Telly Award.
About Isabel Robin
Isabel Robin, of Queens, New York, is a Junior majoring in Musical Theater. She was a finalist for Michael Feinstein's The Songbook Academy and played Imogen in Cymbeline at Temple Theaters.
About Alexa Joseph
Alexa Joseph, of Hauppauge, New York, is a Junior majoring in Musical Theater. She has performed in numerous theaters around New York and Philadelphia, including The York Theater and 54 Below. She recently finished a production of Men on Boats at Temple University.
About Alana Robinson
Alana Robinson, of Washington D.C., is a Senior majoring in Musical Theater. She played Helene in Temple University's production of Sweet Charity and studied abroad in London during the 2019 spring semester and in Los Angeles in summer 2019.
About Jordan Hayes
Jordan Hayes, of Newtown, is a Junior majoring in Musical Theater. She was a choreography intern and dancer in the Kimmel Center's Hairspray Live Viewing Party in 2016. She was the lead Frug dancer in Temple University's 2019 production of Sweet Charity.
About Music Director Todd Ellison
Hailed by The New York Times as one of "Broadway's Electric Conductors," Todd Ellison is one of the most accomplished and sought-after music directors working today.
Raised in Essex, Connecticut, Ellison began playing piano at age six and later graduated from Boston University School of Music with a degree in piano performance. His career has spanned many roles, ranging from award-winning Broadway shows to several seasons as the music director for the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular."
Currently, he is the Music Director of The Philly Pops, the Music Supervisor and Arranger of the new Broadway-bound musical, Roman Holiday, Music Supervisor of the Tokyo production of An American in Paris, and the composer of the award-winning musical, The Black and White Ball.
Ellison's Broadway credits include: An American in Paris, Annie, La Cage aux Folles, Elton John's Lestat, Spamalot, 42nd Street, Amour, The Wild Party, On the Town, Once Upon a Mattress (starring Sarah Jessica Parker), How to Succeed (starring Matthew Broderick), She Loves Me, and A Class Act. As Marvin Hamlisch's Music Director, Ellison worked on Ballroom and The Nutty Professor.
Ellison has conducted all over the world, including the Vienna Konzerthaus with Dawn Upshaw and Jerry Hadley, with The Dublin Film Orchestra, Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Mexico City), Lincoln Center's World Science Festival, Kennedy Center, The Hollywood Bowl, London's West End, The Public Theater, Cole Porters' Jubilee at Carnegie Hall, and with the symphonies of Pittsburgh, San Diego, Nashville, Long Beach, New Haven, and New Jersey. He has conducted on over 25 albums, including on the award-winning cast albums of his shows.
Todd led The Philly POPS for its first Memorial Day concert at Longwood Gardens in 2015. He has since conducted 2017's Best of Broadway, 2018's Memorial Salute concerts, and 2018's A Philly POPS Christmas. Todd officially became the POPS' Music Director in July 2019.