PORTLAND – The Portland Symphony Pops will perform “Rhapsody in Blue” and songs from George Gershwin’s hit musicals in an evening celebrating Broadway’s best.

Music Director Toshiyuki Shimada will conduct the performances, which feature guests Martin Perry, piano, and Jodi Benson and Doug LaBrecque, vocals. “Gershwin’s Greatest” will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24. Both concerts are in Merrill Auditorium.

In addition to “Rhapsody in Blue,” the musicians will play songs from shows such as “Girl Crazy,” “Lady Be Good!” and “Oh Kay!,” including “I Got Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “‘S Wonderful” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.”

Guest vocalist soprano Jodi Benson received a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical and a Helen Hayes Award nomination for creating the starring role of Polly in the Broadway Gershwin musical “Crazy for You.” Benson has been the voice of Ariel in the Academy Award-winning animated feature film “The Little Mermaid.” She also was the voice of Tour Guide Barbie in Disney’s “Toy Story II.” On the concert stage, she’s appeared as guest soloist at the Kennedy Center Honors for Ginger Rogers, the Hollywood Bowl, the Indianapolis Symphony and Seattle Symphony. Current projects include “Lady and the Tramp II” as Lady and the “101 Dalmatians” sequel as Anita.

Doug LaBrecque, tenor, has portrayed The Phantom and Raoul in the Harold Prince production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Other Broadway credits include Oscar Hammerstein’s 100th Birthday Celebration at The Gershwin Theatre in New York. LaBrecque has performed in national tours of “Les Misérables’ and “Sugar Babies.” He’s also been a soloist with the National Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony, as well as the Jerusalem Symphony, Puerto Rico Symphony, Orquestra Symphonica Brasilera in Rio De Janeiro, Shanghai Radio Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic.

Pianist Martin Perry, a graduate of Juilliard, was a Broadway pianist during his years in New York. In 1991, he joined with Kathryn Lewis to form the duo-piano team, Lewis and Perry, which won the Dranoff International Two Piano Competition, presenting their New York debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. They perform across the United States and abroad.

Perry’s New England recitals have included the complete piano works of Charles Griffes and Alan Hovhaness. Perry has appeared several times as soloist with the Portland Symphony.

Tickets, $15 to $53, may be purchased through P, ortTix, (207) 842-0800, or at the PortTix box office, 20 Myrtle St., between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Portland Symphony has introduced a create-your-own subscription allowing ticket purchasers to select the concerts they want to attend. FMI: go online to www.portlandsymphony.com or call (207) 773-6128.


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