HATTIESBURG – Five
local performers have teamed to support the orchestra program at
The University of Southern Mississippi by presenting "A Toast
to Broadway" June 3 at the Saenger Theatre in downtown Hattiesburg.
The benefit concert will feature favorite Broadway
hits with performances by Maryann Kyle, Brenda Parker, and Heather
Clancy Allen, Brian Blair, Joe Britain, and Bill Murphy.
"These performers are friends of the orchestra
and have agreed to put together this show to help us," said
Dr. Jay Dean, music. "Many will remember the sell-out crowd
for our Holiday event in December 2004. We know this show will be
as equally enjoyable and a great kickoff to the summer."
The evening's gala program includes Broadway hits
from musicals like Annie Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, Naughty Marietta,
Okalahoma!, Cabaret, Cats, and Chorus Line, among others.
"I feel so honored to perform with these talented
artists and to help raise funds for an organization that brings
so much to our community," Parker said. "The rehearsals
have been such fun, and the show will definitely be a crowd pleaser."
Described as a performer that is "worth the price
of admission alone" (Clarion Ledger), mezzo-soprano Heather
Clancy Allen is a name to watch. Her award-winning singing and critical
acclaim have brought her international attention.
Allen has sung with several companies, including Mississippi
Opera, Southern Opera and Musical Theatre, New Stage Theatre and
Peter Grey Terhune Productions.
Hattiesburg native Blair is a pianist and entertainer
who travels the Southeast performing with a repertoire of over 1,300
songs. He has made seven recordings and has been pianist, musical
director, and/or director for 44 productions since 1976.
His list of credits includes performing for four different
Mississippi governors since 1980 at the Mississippi Governor's Mansion.
Britain is director of music ministries for Mountaintop
Community Church in Birmingham, Ala. He frequently does studio work
in Nashville as a pianist and arranger and has written and performed
music for a set of nationally marketed infomercials.
His arranging credits include the Mississippi Symphony,
the Alabama Symphony, the Tampa Symphony, the Utah Symphony, The
University of Southern Mississippi Symphony, the Gulf Coast Symphony,
and numerous university and high school marching bands. He was arranger
for the Southern Miss Pride of Mississippi Marching Band for six
Kyle, director of Southern Opera and Musical Theatre
and assistant professor of voice at Southern Miss, has sung leading
roles with the Chattanooga Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Southern
Arts Festival Opera, the University of Illinois, East Tennessee
Opera, LSU Opera, Gulf Coast Opera, and the Opera at Southern Miss.
She appeared as Miceala in Carmen, opposite internationally
renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, and as a guest soloist of
the Miami Festival, opposite famed bass-baritone William Warfield.
An alumnus of the jazz studies program at Southern
Miss, Murphy is a music educator, performer and composer. His work
in the area of teaching students how to use computers to read and
write music has garnered him an award for innovation from the International
Schools for the Performing Arts. Through his Fine Arts Institute
of Mississippi Inc., Murphy has worked with well over 1,000 choir
and band students throughout Mississippi in the past six years.
Murphy has performed with such acts as Natalie Cole,
The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note, The Temptations,
The Four Tops, Frankie Vallie, Wayne Newton, and Harry Blackstone.
He received his first Grammy nomination in 2005 for his work on
the Canton Spirtual's latest album.
Parker, a native of Laurel, graduated from Southern
Miss, where she studied theatre, radio, television and film and
majored in education. Her theatre background includes productions
at The University of Southern Mississippi, Laurel Little Theatre
and Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera.
She has played the leading role in Sound of Music,
South Pacific, Gypsy, Mame, and Hello Dolly, as well as directed
and starred in Driving Miss Daisy, which earned her the Mississippi
Theatre Association's Best Actress award.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $12, $16, and
$20. For tickets, call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601)
266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Order online at www.usm.edu/tickets. For
more information, call the Symphony office at (601) 266-4001.