The Philly POPS Is 'Too Darn Hot' With Cole Porter's Broadway
Principal Guest Conductor David Charles Abell returns to his hometown of Philadelphia for Cole Porter's Broadway: Too Darn Hot, the explosive penultimate performance of The Philly POPS 40th Anniversary Season, April 12-14 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
Together with Broadway sensations Ben Davis and Lisa Vroman and jazz vocalist Catherine Russell, David conducts the POPS through this original program of Porter's best-infusing Porter's one-of-a-kind charm and pep with David's skillful modern flair. Audiences will feel the heat in "Anything Goes," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Begin the Beguine," and "Too Darn Hot," as the POPS pays tribute to this Great American Songbook icon.
The Philly POPS will dedicate the weekend's concerts to Marin Mazzie. Broadway's Golden Couple," Marin, and her husband and fellow Broadway legend, Jason Danieley, were scheduled to perform in this show. But after a long and brave battle with cancer, Marin passed away last September.
All guests are welcome to arrive 90 minutes prior to each concert for free pre-concert entertainment on the Plaza in the Kimmel Center Lobby, including music and a conversation led KYW's RJ McKay.
About David Charles Abell
Born in North Carolina, Principal Guest Conductor David Charles Abell grew up in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, attending Germantown Friends School through the sixth grade. A gifted musician from a young age, his study of trumpet, viola, piano, and composition eventually led to a concentration on conducting. He attended Yale University, the Juilliard School, and the Conservatoire Américain in France, where he studied under Nadia Boulanger.
At age 13, David met Leonard Bernstein while singing in the world premiere of Bernstein's Mass in Washington, D.C. Ten years later, David assisted his teacher John Mauceri in the tenth anniversary production of Mass, leading to a close association with Bernstein-as both a conducting student and as an editor of Bernstein's music.
David made his debut with The Philly POPS in 2013's Christmas Spectacular, returning again in 2014 and 2015. He has since conducted Blockbuster Broadway in 2017, Lenny's Revolution in 2018, and will lead 2019's A Philly POPS Christmas and 2020's Sondheim: A 90th Birthday Celebration.
In addition to his work with The Philly POPS, David conducts concerts, opera, and theatre performances around the world. He has performed with such distinguished artists as Dame Judi Dench, Dame Emma Thompson, Heather Headley, Idina Menzel, Petula Clark, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, and Matthew Morrison. He has conducted many prominent orchestras, including the London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Atlanta and Cincinnati Symphonies, and Boston Pops.
David is widely known to TV audiences for the 10th and 25th anniversary Les Misérables concerts, both of which have become PBS fund-raising perennials. In the UK, he has performed many times on television, most notably as conductor of the immensely successful Sondheim 80th birthday Prom and as the conductor for four years of the Olivier Awards, the UK's equivalent to the Tony Awards. Recently, he made his Zurich Opera debut with Sweeney Todd, starring Sir Bryn Terfel.
In 2008, David undertook the monumental task of creating a critical edition of Kiss Me, Kate. It restored Cole Porter's landmark score to its original 1948 form, correcting errors and annotating the 742-page orchestral score and 344-page piano/vocal score. He has since conducted the show three times, garnering praise from The Guardian: "There can be no conductor in the world with a more intimate understanding of this piece...[the] orchestra is so darn hot it's practically a fire-risk."
David currently lives in London.
About Catherine Russell
Vocalist Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist/composer/bandleader and Louis Armstrong's long-time music director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering vocalist/guitarist/bassist who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Sy Oliver.
After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Catherine embarked upon musical adventures with Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, and Rosanne Cash, among others, touring the world and appearing on over 200 albums.
Her repertoire features a selection of gems from the 1920s through the present; vital interpretations, bursting with soul and humor. With an off-the-beaten-path song selection, sparkling acoustic swing, and a stunning vocal approach, Catherine Russell has joined the ranks of the greatest interpreters and performers of American Popular Song.
She's earned critical praise and spots on the charts for her six solo albums, most recently 2016's Harlem On My Mind, featuring songs from the Great African American Songbook.
About Lisa Vroman
From Broadway to classics, on stage and in concert, Lisa Vroman has established herself as one of America's most versatile voices. She starred on Broadway, Los Angeles and San Francisco as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera and garnered theater critics' awards for her portrayal. Her Broadway debut was in Aspects of Love and she was the first to play both Fantine and Cosette in Les Misérables.
Off Broadway and regionally, she has starred as Marian Paroo in The Music Man, Lili Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate, Birdie in Regina, Josephine in HMS Pinafore, Anna 1 in The Seven Deadly Sins, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella with the New York City Opera. Lisa appeared on PBS as Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Hey! Mr. Producer. She has played Laurey in Oklahoma at the BBC PROMS festival, Anna Leonowens in The King and I, Mary Turner in Of Thee I Sing, and sang and danced opposite Dick Van Dyke as Mary Poppins at the Hollywood Bowl Disney's 75th.
Lisa is a frequent guest with symphonies including San Francisco, Nashville, Philadelphia, Dallas, Utah, St. Louis, Houston, Pacific, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Cleveland, National, Florida, Cleveland, BBC Concert Orchestra, Boston Pops, Philly POPS, and the New York Pops. She has appeared in concert with composer Stephen Schwatrz, the New York Festival of Song, Organist David Higgs, and recently with The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus for their 40th anniversary season in the premiere Unbreakable by Broadway composer/performer Andrew Lippa. The live recording is available at www.Ghostlightrecords.com
Lisa is a graduate of the Crane School of Music, State University at Potsdam (BM, Hon. Dr. of Music, Minerva Award), Carnegie-Mellon University (MFA), and is a George London Competition winner. She has become an active mentor and sought-after clinician with many colleges and universities across the country and around the world. She has acted as a judge in both the Lotte Lenya Competition for the Kurt Weill Foundation and UCLA's Walter Jurmann Competition.
Recent performances have included a multi-city tour of China, Cole Porter's 1928 La Revue Des Ambassadeurs with L'Opera de Rennes, and playing the role of Maria Callas in Terence McNally's award winning play, Master Class. This season, Lisa made her debut with the Gewandhaus Orchester in Leipzig and joined award winning American composer Tom Cipullo for the premiere of his new opera Mayo. Ongoing performances include a series of events with Music Unwound and the Kurt Weill Foundation of a Weill/Brecht/Blitzstein Cabaret with Baritone William Sharp, and symphonic performances of Weill on and off Broadway, featuring The Seven Deadly Sins.
About Ben Davis
A versatile singing actor, Ben Davis was most recently seen in the City Center Encores! production of Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam. His extensive Broadway career includes the Tony Award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen, Mr. Lindquist in A Little Night Music with Elaine Stritch and Bernadette Peters, Javert and Enjolras in Les Miserables, as Trevor Graydon in Thoroughly Modern Millie and "The Preacher" in Violet. He received a Tony Honor and Ovation Award for his work as Marcello in Baz Luhrmann's production of La Bohème. This fall, he starred in the off-Broadway production of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Ben recently toured the country as Captain Von
Trapp in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. He starred as Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate at London's Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms and performed opposite Kelli O'Hara and Victor Garber in Kurt Weill's, Knickerbocker Holiday at Lincoln Center.
An active concert artist, Ben performed as a guest soloist at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Caramoor Festival, the RTE Orchestra in Dublin, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Westchester Philharmonic, and
West Virginia Symphony. He also performed at The Hollywood Bowl as Patrick in Mame and again with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Bernstein's Mass.
About The Philly POPS
The Philly POPS, the largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States, delights audiences with the inspired performance of American popular music. The POPS celebrates this distinctive musical heritage through an expanding repertoire of innovative concert performances and a robust set of educational and engagement initiatives.
Now celebrating its 40th Anniversary Season, the POPS, the official POPS orchestra of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia's partner in civic celebration, serves a consistently growing audience of over 200,000 annually. Music Director Michael Krajewski and the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra keep listeners tapping their toes to an impressive repertoire of songs from American traditional music up through to today's chart-toppers. The Philly POPS BIG Band, an 18-20 piece ensemble performing a rock and rhythm and blues repertoire, premiered in 2017 to enthusiastic response at the July 4 Welcome America Concert on the Parkway.
Outside the concert hall, free Salute Series performances - including Memorial Salute, July 3 POPS on Independence, July 4 POPS on the Parkway and the I'll Be Home for Christmas: A Salute to the Military and First Responders concert - celebrate the American tradition of service around important national holidays. POPS in Schools enhances music education for Philadelphia School District students; POPS Outside brings POPS music to local communities. The Philly POPS performs as a founding resident company of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and at venues throughout the mid-Atlantic region.