WESTFIELD — On Friday, Dec. 31 at 7 p.m., the fully professional Westfield Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro David Wroe will presents The Great American Songbook, a revue of American musical theater classics featuring four outstanding soloists from the Broadway stage and beyond.
Westfield Symphony welcomes back renowned American baritone Leon Williams who received a spontaneous mid-concert standing ovation for his stirring and powerful rendition of Old Man River at last year’s concert. Williams enjoys a fine reputation on several continents for the sonorous and velvety tone of his gorgeous baritone voice, his charismatic personality and superb musicianship. He has performed as a soloist with the National Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Baltimore, Reading, Grand Rapids, Hartford and Colorado Symphonies and is a regular performer at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
Westfield Symphony will also be joined by Michele Ragusa. An exciting soprano known for her electric stage presence and musical intelligence, Ragusa, a Mountainside resident, enjoys a busy career on musical theater stages throughout the United States. She was recently seen on Broadway starring as Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein, Penny and Hope in Urinetown and Evelyn in Ragtime. She has toured nationally with Fiddler On The Roof, West Side Story and Nunsense II,and has numerous regional credits. Many will know her for her frequent starring roles in Paper Mill Playhouse productions including The Full Monty and She Loves Me.
The New Year’s Eve celebration also features the outstanding husband and wife duo of Gary Mauer and Elizabeth Southard who recently starred together in Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera. In addition to his role as Phantom, Mauer has starred on Broadway in Les Miserables, Show Boat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd and Pirates of Penzance. He has traveled extensively with Marvin Hamlisch and has sung All I Ask of You on ABC’s LIVE with Regis and Kathy Lee and The View as well as NBC’s The Today Show. Mauer has also performed with numerous symphonies across the country as well as with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.
Southard most recently starred on Broadway as Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, a role she also performed in the Vancouver, B.C. production and the National tour. She was chosen by Harold Prince to star in his latest revival of Showboat in the First National Tour. Southard has been guest soloist with orchestras throughout the United States including the Pittsburgh Symphony with Marvin Hamlisch and has also toured in Germany and performed at the Opera Comique in Paris.
An event for the whole family, this friendly cabaret–style concert full of fun, musical finesse and virtuoso performances is sure to delight young and not so young alike and, with a 7pm start and a convenient Westfield High School location, is a perfect beginning to the New Year ‘s Eve revels.
The concert is made possible in part by the generous support of the Friends of Westfield Symphony, a vibrant social organization of community-based volunteers dedicated to the expansion of the orchestra’s audience and projects leading to its fund development. The Friends will also present a raffle at intermission.
The WSO recommends making reservations as soon as possible as tickets are selling fast and last year’s concert was a sell-out. Tickets in advance are $35 for general admission and $65 for preferred seating ($40 and $70 at the door, if available.) Tickets may be purchased directly from the WSO by calling (908) 232-9400 or visiting the office at 224 E. Broad Street, Westfield between 10am and 3pm. Tickets are also available from The Town Bookstore in Westfield and Martin Jewelers in Cranford.
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