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April 11, 2013

Samford’s Wright Center to Present Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway April 21

BIRMINGHAM — Samford University’s Wright Center Presents Series concludes Sunday, April 21 with Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway. The 7 p.m. is in the Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center.

The program is described as “A musical revue that recreates the greatest moments from the finest shows of the century featuring the actual stars of shows such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Jekyll & Hyde,” according to Jaime Davidson, Wright Center assistant director.

“These amazing performers light up the stage with songs from the hit shows in which they starred,” Davidson said. “Neil Berg presents brilliantly revived arrangements of Broadway classics as well as thrilling numbers from Broadway’s newest hit shows.”

Tickets range from $20-$45 and are on sale now at the Samford Arts Box Office in Swearingen Hall, by phone at (205) 726-2853 or online at http://www.samford.edu/wrightcenter   Box office hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and 1 hour prior to performances.

Past productions of this popular show have featured Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway, Ben Vereen and Alex Santoriello, among others. Along with musical director and pianist Neil Berg, the Wright Center production will feature Carter Calvert, Lawrence Clayton, Rob Evan, Beverly Ward and Kirby Ward.

Neil Berg is the composer/lyricist of the hit off-Broadway musical “The Prince and the Pauper,” which ran for two years at the Lamb’s Theater in New York City. The New York Times described it as “... soaring on the wings of theatrical fun.” Berg currently is writing the music for the Broadway-bound musical “Grumpy Old Men,” based on the hit film. Two of Berg’s new musicals have been selected for the prestigious New York Musical Theater Festival: “The Man Who Would Be King,” a musical realization of Rudyard Kipling’s novella, and “Tim and Scrooge,” the sequel to “A Christmas Carol.”

Carter Calvert is best known for originating her role in the Tony-nominated, “ItAin’t Nothin’ but the Blues” on Broadway. The New York Times wrote, “Carter Calvert effervesces: her voice echoes chimes in the night” and “Her smoldering grip on “Fever” is positively dangerous”. New York credits include the Broadway, Original Cast Album and touring productions of “It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues.” Off-Broadway she appeared in “Forbidden Broadway” and “The Thing About Men” at the Promenade Theatre. Calvert toured Europe in “Smokey Joe's Café,” played Grizabella in the Broadway national tour of “Cats.” She appeared in the world premiere of “Forbidden Vegas” in a role she originated and as the title role in “Always, Patsy Cline.”

Lawrence Clayton has appeared nationally as Jean Valjean in the 25th anniversary production of “Les Miserables.” He also starred in the New York premiere of “Jerry Springer the Opera” at Carnegie Hall with Harvey Keitel and reprised the role at the Sydney Opera House. Broadway appearances include “Bells Are Ringing,” “It Ain’t Nothin but the Blues,” “The Civil War,” “Once upon a Mattress,” and “Dreamgirls.” Off-Broadway includes “Crowns” at Second Stage, (Audelco Award) “Saturn Returns” and “Romance in Hard Times” at The Public Theater, and as Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Rob Evan has performed in seven leading roles on the New York stage, including the original Broadway cast of "Jekyll & Hyde." Evan also appeared on Broadway as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables," Kerchak in Disney’s "Tarzan," The Dentist in "Little Shop of Horrors," and Count von Krolock in "Jim Steinman’s Dance of the Vampires". Off-Broadway, Evan created the roles of The Dancin’ Kid in "Johnny Guitar" and the hero Miles Hendon in Berg's “The Prince and the Pauper.” As a vocalist and recording artist, Evan is a member of the multi-platinum-selling rock band, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Beverly Ward has been seen on Broadway in “Epic Proportions,” and her national tour credits include playing the wisecracking Ellie May Chipley in Hal Prince’s “Show Boat” and the tough-as-nails Polly Baker in “Crazy for You,” a portrayal that netted her a Helen Hayes Award nomination for best actress in a musical while at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Kirby Ward is a veteran of more than 60 theatrical productions. As the original Bobby Child in the London West End premiere of “Crazy For You,” he received an Olivier Award nomination and later a Helen Hayes Award nomination at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He also was featured in the Broadway revival of “Show Boat” directed by Hal Prince.

 

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