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Pacific Symphony pops season: Gladys Knight, Kenny G, Jersey Boys

March 29, 2012 |  8:45 am

Richard Kaufman conducting Pacific Symphony pops credit PSO
Gladys Knight, Amy Grant and Kenny G are the leading stars of the Pacific Symphony’s 2012-13 pops season in Costa Mesa, with four members of the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys” and two former witches from the “Wicked” franchise also in the mix.

The season at the Segerstrom Center’s Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, announced this week, also includes a multimedia tribute to George and Ira Gershwin, as well as a movie night (May 9-11, 2013) at which the orchestra will provide live accompaniment to Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds in a screening of “Singin’ in the Rain.”

“Wicked Divas – An Evening of Broadway Hits” (Nov. 15-17) stars the team of Alli Mauzey, who grew up in Anaheim Hills and went on to play Glinda in "Wicked" on Broadway, and Julia Murney, a former Elphaba from Broadway and touring companies of “Wicked.” They'll sing songs from hit musicals, among them both "Wicked" and “The Wizard of Oz.” Murney's credentials include surviving Broadway's critically pilloried “Lennon,” in which she was one of the nine actors who took turns playing John Lennon. Her reading of "Beautiful Boy" was one of the few moments that critics liked in the 2005 disaster.

Three of the “Jersey Boys” original Broadway cast veterans -- Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer, who played Four Seasons Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi, respectively -- perform June 13-15, 2013, as will Michael Longoria, who played several parts, including a young Joe Pesci, while understudying (and eventually succeeding) the original Frankie Valli, John Lloyd Young.

The Pacific Symphony’s announcement says that the show is “not a performance of, nor affiliated with the show 'Jersey Boys.'” Instead, the foursome, billed as the Midtown Men, will sing a repertoire of harmony-driven oldies, with the Beatles, Beach Boys, Temptations and Jackson 5 on the menu along with the Four Seasons.

“The Gershwins: Here to Stay” (March 14-16, 2013) features operatic soprano Sylvia McNair, young singer-dancer Ryan VanDenBoom and pianist Kevin Cole, a noted Gershwin interpreter, as well as projections and vintage sound recordings of the Gershwin brothers. For those who can’t wait almost a year, Cole will be the featured soloist with the Pasadena Pops in a “Gershwin on the Green” program conducted by Marvin Hamlisch on Sept. 8 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia.

“Christmas With Amy Grant” comes a bit early (Dec. 13-15) as the contemporary Christian and pop-crossover star celebrates the season. Saxophonist Kenny G will wax sweetly romantic for Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14-16).

Gladys Knight's concerts (April 18-20, 2013) won't come with a holiday attached, but the top-echelon soul and R&B star is herself celebrated every day at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, into which she was inducted in 1996 along with her backup singers, the Pips.

Richard Kaufman (pictured above), the Pacific Symphony’s principal pops conductor, will lead each program except the Gershwin homage, which will be conducted by Albert-George Schram.


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Photo: Richard Kaufman conducting the Pacific Symphony Pops. Credit: Pacific Symphony.