Semi-Staged Music Man, Starring Will Chase and Betsy Wolfe, Among Cincinnati Pops 2014-15 Season

By Michael Gioia
07 Feb 2014

The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and conductor John Morris Russell have announced the Pops' 2014-15 season, the fourth under the direction of Russell. A semi-staged concert of The Music Man, starring Will Chase and Betsy Wolfe, is among the lineup.



"This season takes many of our best Pops traditions to a whole new level," said Russell in a statement. "We've got the big stars, the best performers that call Cincinnati 'home,' and the finest Pops Orchestra on the planet with amazing orchestral repertoire that stretches the boundaries of the Pops genre. From popular classics to bluegrass, Motown to Broadway, we're celebrating American music in a whole new way."

The Pops also announced that "American Originals: Live from Music Hall" will be recorded live for later release on the Orchestra's Fanfare Cincinnati record label. This will be the Pops' first live concert recording.

The Pops 2014-15 season at Music Hall will kick off with Disney's Fantasia, which will be offered Sept. 5-6 at 8 PM and Sept. 7 at 2 PM.

According to press notes, "With its 'Fantasia' (1940) and 'Fantasia 2000' films, Disney introduced (and re-introduced) children and families to some of the world's most thrilling and timeless classical repertoire such as Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, featuring the Orchestra's own Michael Chertock as piano soloist. While the Cincinnati Pops and Mr. Russell perform these powerful scores and many others, footage from these groundbreaking movies will be displayed in high definition above the stage."

The Midtown Men:
 4, featuring stars from the original cast of the Tony-winning musical Jersey Boys, will follow Nov. 2 at
 7 PM. Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer will "bring to life their favorite 'Sixties Hits' from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Motown and The Four Seasons, among others."

Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell will join Russell and the Pops for the holidays Dec. 5 at 8 PM, Dec. 13 at 8 PM and Dec. 14 at 2 PM. Audiences can expect "the usual twists with choirs, dancers and other surprises." The Pops will also take this holiday performance on tour between the Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 performances. Details of the tour will be announced at a later date.

American Originals: Live from Music Hall, celebrating the music of American songwriter Stephen Foster, will be held Jan. 23-24, 2015, at 8 PM and Jan. 25, 2015, at 2 PM. This program, along with the audience, will be recorded live for later release around the world on the Orchestra's Fanfare Cincinnati label.

Among the artists giving these songs fresh interpretations are the singing-songwriting duo Over the Rhine (named after Cincinnati's historic neighborhood that serves as home to Music Hall); multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons; and The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. More artists will be announced at a later date.

Meredith Willson's The Music Man in Concert will be offered May 1-2, 2015, at 8 PM and May 3, 2015, at 2 PM. According to press notes, "In this lavish, semi-staged production of 'America's favorite small-town musical,' Mr. Russell and the Pops join forces with local and national talent to bring Meredith Willson's beloved music to life.

Chase (Nice Work If You Can Get It, Rent, Miss Saigon, The Full Monty, Aida, Lennon, High Fidelity, The Story Of My Life, Billy Elliot) will star in his Pops debut opposite Wolfe (Bullets Over Broadway, The Last Five Years, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) as Marian the Librarian.

Directed by Playhouse in the Park artistic director Blake Robison, the performance will also feature the best of Cincinnati's arts and entertainment, including CCM, Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park, the May Festival Chorus and other local community institutions. More details and cast members will be announced at a later date.

Concerts will also include A Romantic Evening with Natalie Cole, featuring Grammy winner Cole in her Pops debut (Feb. 8, 2015, at 7 PM); Indigo Girls: One Night Only, conducted by Steven Reineke (April 19, 2015, at 
7 PM); and Amy Grant: One-Night-Only (Dec. 16, 2015, at 7:30 PM).

For more information, tickets and a complete lineup, visit CincinnatiPops.org.