'Gems of Broadway'

For its spring concert, the Siskiyou Singers will present "Gems of Broadway," choral highlights from six of America's best-loved musicals.

Artistic Director Dave Marston will conduct 130 singers drawn from the Rogue Valley. Pianist Joseph Yungen, a music performance major at Southern Oregon University and a student of Alexander Tutunov, will accompany the choir.

Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday May 2, and 4 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at the Music Recital Hall of Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, and at 8 p.m. Friday, May 8, at the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center, 830 N.E. Ninth St., Grants Pass.

The concert will feature selections from "Porgy and Bess," "Oklahoma!" "The Music Man," "The Sound of Music," "Camelot" and "The Lion King."

"Porgy and Bess," first performed in 1935, was composed by George Gershwin with book and lyrics by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin. The plot recounts the ups and downs of life in Catfish Row, a black community in Charleston, S.C., in the early 1920's.

"Summertime" and "It Ain't Necessarily So" are among the songs that included strains of blues and jazz within the traditional forms of opera. The Metropolitan Opera first produced "Porgy and Bess" in 1985.

"Oklahoma!" was the first musical by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs" by Lynn Riggs, the show is set in Oklahoma Territory in 1906 and relates the story of Curly the cowboy and his girlfriend, Laurey. The musical opened on Broadway in March 1943 and played for 2,212 performances. It includes the song "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning." Rodgers and Hammerstein received a special Pulitzer Prize for "Oklahoma!" in 1944.

"The Music Man," with music, book and lyrics by Meredith Willson, opened on Broadway in 1957. It won five Tony Awards and ran for 1,375 performances.

The cast album won the first Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. The plot revolves around Harold Hill, a con artist who plans to sell band instruments and uniforms to the unsuspecting citizens of River City, Iowa, and then skip town with the cash. Songs include "Seventy Six Trombones" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."

"The Sound of Music" was the last musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. It opened in November 1959 and told the story of Captain Georg von Trapp and his children and Maria their governess, and events leading up to their escape from the Nazis during World War II. Actress Mary Martin had the leading role of Maria and sang "My Favorite Things" and "Do-Re-Mi." The show received a Tony Award for best musical. "The Sound of Music" had a Broadway revival in 1998.

"Camelot," the retelling of King Arthur legends, was adapted by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner from the T. H. White novel, "The Once and Future King." The musical featured Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Robert Goulet, opening in 1960 and running for 873 performances on Broadway. The show received four Tony Awards. Tours of the U.S. began in 1963 and again in 2007.

"The Lion King" was based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name, with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. This tale of intrigue within the animal kingdom featured giant puppets as well as actors in animal costumes. Among its familiar songs are "Circle of Life" and "Can You Feel The Love Tonight."

The musical opened in July 1997 in Minneapolis and moved to Broadway in November of that year. It received the 1998 Tony Award for best musical.

Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 at the door, and $5 for students. Ticket outlets are Music Coop, Paddington Station and Tree House Books in Ashland; Aquarius Books & Gifts and Larry's Music in Grants Pass; and the Grocery Outlet in Medford.

For more information or reservations, see siskiyousingers.org or call 482-5290.

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