Menzel, Kennedy, Porter, Bogart Perform in NYC Concert Series at Ars Nova

News   Menzel, Kennedy, Porter, Bogart Perform in NYC Concert Series at Ars Nova A host of Broadway favorites and one newcomer have been added to the Broadway Spotlight Series, which presents concert evenings with stars of the Broadway stage. Chad Kimball, who plays the lovable cow Milky White in the Tony-winning revival of Into the Woods, performed in the series Aug. 5. Aida's Felicia Finley and former Renter Anthony Rapp have also taken part in the concert program.

A host of Broadway favorites and one newcomer have been added to the Broadway Spotlight Series, which presents concert evenings with stars of the Broadway stage. Chad Kimball, who plays the lovable cow Milky White in the Tony-winning revival of Into the Woods, performed in the series Aug. 5. Aida's Felicia Finley and former Renter Anthony Rapp have also taken part in the concert program.

Upcoming performers include Shoshana Bean on Sept. 9, Idina Menzel and Matt Bogart on Oct. 7, Lauren Kennedy on Nov. 4 and Billy Porter on Dec. 2. Gordon Greenberg, artistic director of the Spotlight Series, recently explained, "This is an incredible opportunity to see some of Broadway's most exciting young talent as individual performers in an up-close and personal environment.  For about the cost of a movie, audiences get a completely original evening with a major talent.  We are committed to offering this sort of an intimate platform to performers, composers and lyricists who wish to explore new material in a comfortable setting."

Shoshana Bean is currently making her Broadway debut as Shelley in the new musical Hairspray. A member of the Broadway Inspirational Voices, Bean appeared in the national tour of Leader of the Pack and the recent Off-Broadway production of Godspell.

Idina Menzel made her Broadway debut as Maureen in the original Broadway company of Jonathan Larson's Rent. She also starred in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of The Wild Party and the City Center Encores! presentation of Hair. Menzel, whose solo album — "Still I Can't Be Still" — is available on CD, was last on The Great White Way as Amneris in Aida.

Matt Bogart, recently seen as Paul in the Kennedy Center production of Stephen Sondheim's Company, has starred on Broadway in Aida, The Civil War, Miss Saigon and Smokey Joe's Cafe. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music, Bogart has appeared in regional productions of Carousel and Side Show. Lauren Kennedy starred on The Great White Way in Sunset Boulevard and Side Show and recently made her West End debut in the acclaimed revival of South Pacific. She also starred in the New York City Opera production of Cinderella and has performed in regional theatres throughout the country. Kennedy is currently working on a solo CD featuring the songs of Tony winner Jason Robert Brown.

A renowned vocalist, Billy Porter appeared on Broadway in Grease!, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe and Smokey Joe's Cafe. Off Broadway audiences have seen Porter in Romance in Hard Times, The Merchant of Venice and House of Lear. He starred as Little Richard in CBS-TV's "Shake Rattle & Roll," and his other screen credits include "Another World," "The Intern," "Twisted" and "Soul Train." Porter's debut solo CD, "Untitled," is available from A&M Records.

The Ars Nova Theater is located at 511 W. 54th Street in New York City. Tickets are priced at $12 and are available, cash only, at the door. For reservations and information, call (212) 977-1700.  

—By Andrew Gans