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Released May 25, 2005

LOCAL PERFORMING FRIENDS JOIN FOR ORCHESTRA BENEFIT

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 years.

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.

 

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July 20, 2005 4:00 PM