Marvin Hamlisch Celebration – Cast

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Klea Blackhurst is an actress, singer and comedienne best known for her award-winning tribute to Ethel Merman, Everything The Traffic Will Allow.  Among her many accolades, this production earned her the inaugural Special Achievement Award from Time Out New York magazine and the recording of Everything the Traffic Will Allow was named one of the top ten show albums of 2002 by Talkin’ Broadway.com.  Ms. Blackhurst next turned her passion for musical-theatre history to the Broadway career of composer Vernon Duke and debuted Autumn in New York: Vernon Duke’s Broadway at New York’s Café Carlyle with a subsequent sold-out engagement at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater.  Her most recent project, Dreaming of a Song: The Music of Hoagy Carmichael, is a collaboration with Billy Stritch. They celebrated their CD release with a packed performance at Birdland, where she is also a frequent guest host for Jim Caruso’s infamous Cast Party.  Ms. Blackhurst has performed with symphonies, orchestras and in theatrical productions across the country and abroad including the London Palladium presentation of Jerry Herman’s Broadway with Angela Lansbury, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, 10 Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Conventions, New York’s Town Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists, (Leo Robin & Cole Porter) The Chicago Humanities Festival and as Ado Annie in the BBC Proms concert of Oklahoma! in London’s Royal Albert Hall.  She currently plays Shelby Cross, former prosecutor and hypercritical pundit on the IFC Channel comedy series, Onion News Network.  Her theatre credits include: New York – the recent revival of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Bingo, By Jupiter, Radio Gals, Oil City Symphony; Regional – Call Me Madam, Chicago, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Red Hot and Blue and Anything Goes.   TV and radio: Law and Order: SVU, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Sesame Street and A Prairie Home Companion. Her albums are on the Ghostlight Records label and available at http://www.sh-k-boom.com/ and www.ghostlightrecords.com. S he’s also featured on Jule Styne in Hollywood on PS Classics; the original cast recordings of Bingo and Radio Gals; Lost in Boston IV, Unsung Irving Berlin and The Best of Off Broadway.

Kevin Cole, America’s pianist, has delighted audiences with a repertoire that includes the best of 20th Century American Music.  His performances, especially his interpretation of Gershwin, have prompted accolades from some of the foremost critics in America. “When Cole sits down at the piano, you would swear Gershwin himself was at work… Cole stands as the best Gershwin pianist in America today,” wrote Howard Reich, arts critic for the Chicago Tribune.  Critic Andrew Patner wrote: “A piano genius…he reveals an understanding of harmony, rhythmic complexity and pure show-biz virtuosity that would have had Vladimir Horowitz smiling with envy.”

Mr. Cole recently performed with the Nashville Symphony in a concert, Gershwin At One Symphony Place, which aired on PBS nationwide March 2009.  Other engagements for Cole include: sold-out performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl; BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall; National Symphony at the Kennedy Center; San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra (London); Boston Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Edmonton Symphony (Canada) and many others.  He has shared the concert stage with notables from opera greats William Warfield and Sylvia McNair to Broadway legends Barbara Cook and Marvin Hamlisch.

Mr. Cole is an award-winning musical director, arranger, composer, vocalist and archivist who garnered the praises of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, Hugh Martin, Burton Lane, Stephen Sondheim and members of the Jerome Kern and Gershwin families.  He has worked as vocal arranger/accompanist for opera and musical theatre performers Sylvia McNair, Dawn Upshaw, Brian D’Arcy James, Karen Morrow, Christine Andreas, Hollis Resnik, Kim Criswell and William Warfield.  Mr. Cole has given Master Classes in musical theatre vocal performance at Interlochen Center for the Arts and North Carolina School of the Arts.  He has served as Musical Director for Pasadena Playhouse, Michigan Ensemble Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and Royal George Theatre (Chicago). Kevin currently works with songwriting legend Hugh Martin. Mr. Martin was vocal coach to Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, Judy Garland and many others.

His discography includes Gramophone Musical Album of the Year, 1995, Gershwin’s Oh, Kay! with soprano Dawn Upshaw (Elektra/Nonesuch) and Lady Be Good- First Recordings of the Unknown George Gershwin (Pro Arte); The Song Is You with The Carolyn Mawby Chorale, his critically acclaimed solo piano disc, Cole Plays Gershwin and his just released vocal debut album  In The Words Of IraThe Songs of Ira Gershwin.  Visit Kevin at: www.KevinColeOnLine.com.

Bernard Dotson is honored to be making his debut with Live Arts Maryland and celebrating the amazing works of Marvin Hamlisch.   Mr. Dotson began his singing career traveling nationally and internationally singing the Walt Disney Songbook.  While working for the Disney Company, he was featured on TV and touring in shows singing in English, French, German, and Japanese.   His New York concerts include: She Loves Me with The Caramoor Music Festival Orchestra conducted by Ted Sperling, singing the music of Frank Loesser with The New York Philharmonic conducted by Ted Sperling,  2012 hit Encores production of  Merrily We Roll Along directed by James Lapine, Finian’s Rainbow, Encores Broadway Bash, The Broadway Gospel Choir, and Dreamgirls to benefit the Actors Fund.   Mr. Dotson has been seen on Broadway in Finian’s Rainbow (First Gospeleer, Original Revival Cast), Chicago, (Billy Flynn), Imaginary Friends (Leo, Original Cast), starring Swoosie Kurtz and Cherry Jones, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, Sweet Smell of Success (Club Zanzibar Singer, Original Cast), starring John Lithgow and Brian d’Arcy James, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, Jesus Christ Superstar (Original Revival Cast), and the Tony Award-winning Musical Ragtime (Original Cast).   Mr. Dotson’s regional, national, and international tours include: Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Five Guys Named Moe, Kiss Me Kate and Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, just to name a few.  Mr. Dotson can be heard on six Broadway cast recordings and will be making his solo cabaret debut on November 15, at the Metropolitan Room in New York City.

Peter Dugan (piano) began studying piano at the age of four in Philadelphia, PA.  A Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholar, Mr. Dugan received his B.M. in 2011 from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Matti Raekallio and was awarded the John Erskine Prize for outstanding artistic and academic achievement.  Mr. Dugan has performed in Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, Verizon Hall and WXPN World Café Live, Chicago’s Preston Bradley Hall, and New York’s Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall.  In addition, he has performed abroad in Europe, South America, and the Cayman Islands.  In addition to solo classical appearances, he regularly performs chamber music, jazz, funk, and gospel.  A sought-after crossover artist, Mr. Dugan recently joined violinist Itzhak Perlman to perform “I Cannot Hear The City” from The Sweet Smell of Success in a memorial concert for Marvin Hamlisch at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater.  Mr. Dugan is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in piano performance at the Juilliard School

Jon Fletcher has many credits including:  Broadway: Bonnie and Clyde. Off-Broadway/New York: Giant (Public Theater); Katie RocheWife to James Whelan (Mint Theater); Child’s Christmas in Wales, Donnybrook (Irish Rep); Fortress of Solitude (CTG); Irma la Douce (Dir. Rob Ashford). Nat’l Tours/regional: 25th Ann. Tour Les Miserables; The Who’s Tommy (Lyric, OKC). Film/TV: The Good Wife (CBS); Pan Am (ABC); Obsolete (Mightyhouse), City of dreams (web-series). Jon recently wrapped production on a short film he wrote called BETWEEN THE BLACK, staring Malcolm Gets, Sean Cullen, Marissa McGowan and himself among others.  Cheers to Family, Friends, and Mariss.

Valerie Lemon has performed across the United States as a concert soloist for Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch. Their 12-year association resulted in Mr. Hamlisch writing a solo act for her that has been performed around the globe.  Ms. Lemon collaborated with Eric Michael Gillett on her tribute show to Marvin, Valerie Lemon Sings Music by Marvin Hamlisch which debuted at the Metropolitan Room November 2008 to wonderful reviews.  On October 11, 2009, she appeared at Feinstein’s to a SRO audience.  She returned there with Music by Marvin Hamlisch on October 24, 2010, with Marvin as her “Special Guest.”   Ms. Lemon is a four-year veteran of The Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention and returned again for the 5th time this past October.  Her special love for cabaret and live performing has resulted in two cabaret shows: The Way of the Heart, which is a more personal account her life and The Jane Froman Song Book which celebrates the life and music of Jane Froman, the legendary singer of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties.  In 2007, Ms. Lemon performed the centennial celebration of Jane Froman’s life in Jane’s home state of Missouri at Columbia College’s Launer Auditorium.   Ms. Lemon has also appeared on the stage in Colette, starring Diana Rig g, The Student Prince, Closer Than Ever and Blue Window just to mention a few.

This past summer she was very excited to have been cast as the mother in a new off-Broadway musical, A Dance For Rylie.   Ms. Lemon is thrilled and honored to be a part of this evening’s performance and would like to thank her mentor, Marvin Hamlisch, who taught her so much about music and performing. She would also like to thank Ernie Green and Terre Hamlisch for their love and support.  Ms. Lemon’s other loves are her husband Bob, her daughter, Marianne, now attending the Juilliard MFA Program, and her five rescue animals Tino, Crankie Frankie, Opie Moose, and Lobo.   Her CDs are available at CDbaby.com or www.valerielemon.com.

Marissa McGowan was honored to originate the role of Stella Purdy in Marvin Hamlisch’s last musical The Nutty Professor directed by Jerry Lewis.   Broadway credits: A Little Night Music Revival with Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury (Original Cast Recording), Bonnie and Clyde (Original Cast Recording), Les Miserables (Revival and National Tour) where she performed both the roles of Eponine and Cosette.  Favorite regional: The Sound of Music (Maria), Lyric Theatre; Camelot (Guenevere), Big River (Mary Jane) Goodspeed; Sweeney Todd (Johanna), Geva Theatre; Love According to Luc (Luc), Greenwich Street Theatre;  …FORUM (Philia), Kiss Me Kate (Lois/Bianca), Weston Playhouse.  Television credits include: Major Crimes (TNT).  Ms. McGowan holds a BFA from Syracuse University.  Thank you to Ernie and Terre and especially my amazingly supportive parents, family and friends. Go team Marvin!  Read more about Ms. McGowan at www.marissamcgowan.com.

Charles Yang (violin) has been described by the Boston Globe as one who “plays classical violin with the charisma of a rock star.”  A Juilliard graduate, Mr. Yang began his violin studies with his mother in Austin, Texas, and has since studied with world-renowned pedagogues Kurt Sassmanshaus, Paul Kantor, Brian Lewis and Glenn Dicterow.  He has performed as a soloist with orchestras and in recitals in the United States, Europe, Brazil, Russia, China, and Taiwan, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.  On June 9, 2005, the Mayor of Austin presented Mr. Yang with his own “Charles Yang Day.”  Mr. Yang has been a frequent guest on the Emmy Award-winning PBS show From the Top, and has also been heard on National Public Radio in Washington, DC and Boston.

Not only confined to classical violin, Mr. Yang’s improvisational crossover abilities as a violinist, vocalist, and guitarist have led him to performances with a variety of artists in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln center, long center, Highline Ballroom, David Rubinstein Atrium, Ars Nova, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Forbidden City in Beijing among others.  Recent engagements include a concert at the United Nations, an appearance alongside ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro at the fifth E.G. Conference in Monterey, California, a performance with Guitarhero and Rockband creator, Eran Egozy at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, duet with renowned dancer Marcelo Gomes at the Joyce Theater and as soloist with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City.  He has recently returned from a series of concerts and master classes in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  His career has been followed by various news media including The New York Times, The New York Post, Playbill, The Boston Globe, Fortissimo, the Austin-American Statesman, Shenzhen Daily, The Strad, Dallas Daily, Cincinnati Enquirer and Juilliard Journal.  Mr. Yang is featured in Nick Romeo’s new book, Driven, and on the Discovery Channel’s Curiosity.  Mr. Yang endorses Design Electric violins.