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Released October 22, 2004

SOUTHERN MISS COMPANY PRESENTS 'GRAND' MUSICAL REVUE

HATTIESBURG - Composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein wrote some of the best-loved songs in American musical history. "A Grand Night for Singing" is a trip down memory lane with the duo's most popular tunes from their most popular shows.

Under the direction of stage director Rob Mulholland and musical director Juan Carlos Pena, Southern Opera and Musical Theatre at The University of Southern Mississippi brings the toe-tapping, heartwarming revue of award-winning show tunes to the stage Nov. 5-7 at the Mannoni Performing Arts Center Auditorium in Hattiesburg.

"Grand Night" includes songs from the hit shows "Oklahoma!"; "Carousel"; "The King and I"; "South Pacific"; "Cinderella"; and "The Sound of Music," as well as some of their lesser-known shows like "Allegro" and "Flower Drum Song."

USA Today said "'A Grand Night' is enough to restore one's faith in the future of the revue and the durability of Rodgers and Hammerstein."

This hot revue opened the 1994 Broadway season to wildly enthusiastic reviews, with hits like "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" ("The Sound of Music") and "Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" ("South Pacific"). Audiences will travel along with the Southern Miss dancing and singing ensemble to a jazzy "Kansas City" ("Oklahoma!") to find "A Hundred Million Miracles" ("Flower Drum Song"). The show is expected to be "Something Wonderful."

"By combining dance, colorful costumes, popular tunes, and beautiful singing voices, this show will truly delight families," said Dr. Maryann Kyle, director of Southern Opera and Musical Theatre. "The overall theme of the show is young love, love found, and love lost and found again."

"A Grand Night for Singing" features more than two dozen of the musical team's greatest hits. In their day, the two were musical theatre innovators. Composer Rodgers set Hammerstein's lyrics to personify period and place. "Oklahoma" features simple folk songs and exuberant hoedowns. "Carousel" conjures up 19th-century New Englanders. "The King and I" sounds exotically Far Eastern.

For this newly arranged version, celebrating the 50th anniversary of many of the shows, Kyle assured that audiences will recognize the tunes, but "some arrangements will have a twist-more jazz-like."

The cast includes 10 singer-dancers and six dancers. "Most of these students are music majors and many of them are interested in pursuing careers in musical theatre," Kyle explained.

Mulholland is a veteran director of musical productions in this area and knows good casts. "This is the most talented group of singers I have worked with here at Southern Miss," he said. "These kids are incredible singers and dancers."

Cast members include Tinyke Badenhorst of Saltillo; Hilary Bounds of Hattiesburg; Matthew Davis of Decatur, Ala.; Hilary Ginther of Bristol, Va.; Hunter Graybeal of Bristol, Tenn.; Leslie Hippensteel of Marrero, La.; Robyn Holmes of Petal; Brad Irvin of Gautier; Daland Jones of Ripley; and Pamela Jones of Hattiesburg.

Other cast members include Johnny Langford of Biloxi; Melody Latham of Cleveland; Brook Oglesby of Grand Bay, Ala.; Lesley Sharron of New Orleans, La.; and Jess Thomas of Moss Point.

The Nov. 5 and 6 shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and the Nov. 7 matinee begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adult admission and $10 for students, senior citizens, and children under 12. 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, visit www.usm.edu/opera.

This production is presented with permission by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatre Library.

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November 23, 2004 9:23 AM