Thursday, November 14, 2013

HSO Pays Tribute to Stephen Sondheim with Pops Concert

Ron Raines
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra Pops! will pay tribute to one of Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim at Symphonic Sondheim 7:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 23 in Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. 

Led by Phantom of the Opera Broadway conductor and Farmington, CT resident Tim Stella, the program will feature selections from Sondheim’s most beloved musicals, including Sweeney Todd, Follies, Into the Woods, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, A Little Night Music, and Sunday in the Park with George. 
For this performance, the HSO will be joined by Broadway stars Florence Lacey, best known as Eva Peron in Evita on Broadway; Hugh Panaro, known for his performances as the Phantom in Broadway’s Phantom of the OperaLisa Vroman, renowned for her portrayal of Christine Daee in Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera; and Ron Raines, who will begin a run as Daddy Warbucks in Annie on Broadway in December. Raines is best known for his three- time Emmy award nominated portrayal of villain Alan Spaulding in the long running CBS soap opera, "Guiding Light."

Winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer), eight Grammy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize, Sondheim rose to stardom with the debut of West Side Story, for which he wrote the lyrics. Sondheim went on to write the lyrics for Gypsy, followed by his first Broadway musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Five decades later, several Sondheim’s musicals have been turned into major motion pictures, including the upcoming feature film production of Into the Woods starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, among others.

Stella can currently be seen on Broadway conducting The Phantom Of The Opera. He served as vocal coach to Emmy Rossum as Christine and Gerard Butler as the Phantom in the movie version of Phantom. Other Broadway shows conducted include Jesus Christ Superstar,  A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,  Guys And Dolls,  The Most Happy Fella,  Hello Dolly!  and Legs Diamond. In addition to his Broadway work, Stella currently is Music Director at Saint Peter Claver Church in West Hartford, as well as the Church Of Saint Patrick in Farmington.

Lacey was last seen on Broadway in the critically acclaimed Kennedy Center production of Sondheim's Follies.  She made her Broadway debut as Irene Malloy in Hello Dolly! for which she won the Theatre World Award.  Her biggest role was Eva Peron in Evita, a role she played on Broadway and on tour around the world.  Lacey’s other Broadway credits include Fantine in Les Miserables; Marianne in The Grand Tour; and An Evening With Jerry Herman (Mac Award).  She is married to Stella.

Panaro originated the role of Marius Pontmercy in the first national touring production of Les Misérables, moving up to the Broadway company several months later. Subsequent Broadway roles have included Raoul de Chagny in The Phantom of the Opera, Julian Craster in The Red Shoes, Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat, Buddy Foster in Side Show, and the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, which has been Panaro’s landmark role.  

Vroman, who starred on Broadway as Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera. Lisa recently starred as Marian Paroo in The Music Man  at The Bushnell alongside Shirley Jones, Patrick Cassidy and the HSO. On PBS, she played Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Hey! Mr. Producer (London Royal Gala). She played Laurey in Oklahoma (BBC PROMS festival), Mary Turner inOf Thee I Sing (San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas), and sang and danced opposite Dick Van Dyke as Mary Poppins at the Hollywood Bowl (Disney 75th Anniversary).

Born and raised in Texas, Raines most recently appeared as Ben in the critically acclaimed revival of Follies at the Kennedy Center and Broadway, for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.  He has starred on Broadway in shows such as Chicago and Show Boat, and originated the role of Nick Longworth in Teddy and Alice.  He was a three-time Emmy and Soap Opera Digest Award nominee for his role as the villain Alan Spaulding.  
Tickets to this concert range in price from $35.50-$70.50. Student tickets are $10. A limited number of $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit

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