Press Release • February 17, 2020

Newly appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell brings the fun and elegance of Oscar Hammerstein 2nd’s masterworks to Philly in HAMMERSTEIN: The Song is You.

This original show, which will be David’s first as Music Director and Principal Conductor, will feature Broadway and West End stars Liz Callaway, Damian Humbley, and Rosena Hill Jackson. The program will explore Oscar’s career and life, starting with his collaborations with Jerome Kern and Sigmund Romberg and finishing with selections from his eternal musicals, Oklahoma!CarouselSouth PacificThe King & I, and The Sound of Music. Notable songs include: “All The Things You Are,” “The Song is You,” “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,” “Edelweiss,” and more. Due to scheduling conflicts, this show will replace this season’s SONDHEIM: A 90th Birthday Celebration.

While traditional composer and lyricist duos of the time wrote the music first and lyrics second, in their partnership, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein agreed that Oscar would write the lyrics first. In this way, despite not being a composer, Hammerstein’s lyrics shaped the music, and his masterful gift for storytelling inspired the composers to tell the story.

Raised in New York, NY, Oscar Hammerstein 2nd was born into theater. His grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein, was a famous opera impresario who built many theaters, including The Met Philadelphia. He wrote lyrics to over 1,589 songs, including the musicals Oklahoma!CarouselSouth PacificThe King & IThe Sound of Music, and more. Oscar lived the final 20 years of his life in Doylestown, PA, where his neighbor, a young Stephen Sondheim, would come over to learn the craft of writing a musical. His work earned him eight Tony awards, two Oscars, and two Pulitzer Prizes.

David Charles Abell previously celebrated the life of Oscar Hammerstein 2nd at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops in 2008 with Sutton Foster, Rosena Hill, and Aaron Lazar.

“Oscar Hammerstein’s works are integral to Broadway theater,” said David Charles Abell. “He was a masterful storyteller who used his lyrics to drive musical motion and emotion. He not only changed Broadway through his lyrics, but he also shaped the career of his protégé, Stephen Sondheim. I am so excited to bring this show to Philadelphia—so close to where Hammerstein lived his last 20 years.”

HAMMERSTEIN: The Song is You runs July 17–19 at The Kimmel Center for The Performing Arts. This performance replaces the originally scheduled SONDHEIM: A 90th Birthday Celebration, which has been postponed.

Tickets are available at

About Damian Humbley
Damian studied Theatre at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Theatre credits include: Local Hero (Edinburgh Lyceum Theatre), Merrily We Roll Along (Huntington Theatre Company, USA & Harold Pinter Theatre), Life of The Party (Bay Theatre Award – TheatreWorks SV, Menier Chocolate Factory) Lend Me A Tenor (Gielgud Theatre, London), The Woman In White (Palace Theatre London), Fiddler on the Roof (Savoy Theatre, London), The Last 5 YearsSpamilton (Menier Chocolate Factory), Forbidden Broadway (Vaudeville Theatre) Dicken’s Abridged (Arts Theatre), Putting It TogetherSongs For a New World (St James Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Salisbury Playhouse), Company (Sheffield Crucible), Little Shop Of Horrors (UK Tour).

About Liz Callaway

Liz Callaway is a Tony nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress, singer, and recording artist. She made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Baby, and for 5 years, won acclaim as Grizabella in Cats. She has also starred in the original casts of Miss SaigonThe Three Musketeers, and The Look of Love, with many off-Broadway credits to her name, as well. An accomplished concert and recording artist, she created the award-winning show Sibling Revelry with sister Ann Hampton Callaway, with whom she collaborated again on Boom!, a celebration of the music of the ’60s and ’70s recorded live at Birdland and currently touring performing arts centers around the country. Recently, she had the pleasure of singing Chances Are with the legendary Johnny Mathis in Vancouver, co-starring with Jimmy Webb and Paul Williams in their engagement at Feinstein’s in New York, and joining Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder at Hal David’s 90th Birthday Celebration Concert in Los Angeles. Her extensive U.S. symphony work includes appearances at The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Ravinia, and The Hollywood Bowl. Worldwide, she has performed in China, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, France, South Korea, and Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, where she premiered a new concert featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim. Liz sang the Oscar-nominated Journey to the Past in the animated film Anastasia and performed the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin and the King of Thieves and The Return of Jafar. She received an Emmy Award for hosting Ready to Go, a daily, live children’s program on CBS in Boston.

About Rosena M. Hill Jackson
Rosena Hill Jackson has performed at Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops; Teatro di Massimo Symphony Orchestra in Palermo, Sicily; Teatro di Lirico Symphony Orchestra and chorus in, Sardegna; Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Florida Sunshine Pops, Long Island Philharmonic, Sarasota Symphony, Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, Wheeling Symphony and in the cast of Carousel with the New York Philharmonic for PBS “Live at Lincoln Center.”

On Broadway, Rosena stepped into the role of Nettie Fowler in Carousel, after the departure of Renée Fleming. Mrs. Jackson was chosen by Harold Prince to be a part of the principle cast of Prince Of Broadway, produced by the Manhattan Theater Club. She has performed with Patti LaBelle, Tony Braxton, Baby Face, K.D. Lang, Vanessa Williams, Gladys Night and Fantasia in After MidnightCome Fly Away (Featured Vocalist); The Color Purple (Church Lady) with Fantasia; Monty Python’s Spamalot (Lady of the Lake) with Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria, Christopher Sieber; Imaginary Friends (Mrs. Stillman) with Swoosie Kurtz and Cherry Jones; Oklahoma (Ellen) 2002 revival with Patrick Wilson, Andrea Martin and Shuler Hensley; Riverdance on Broadway (Amanzi soloist); Marie Christine (Ophelia) with Audra McDonald and Vivian Reed and Ragtime (Sarah’s Friend) with LaChanze. On the 1st national tour of Ragtime (Sarah). Off-Broadway in Cotton Club Parade (Trio) at City Center with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Lost in the Stars (Mrs. Mckezie) at City Center; Tin Pan Alley Rag (Monisha, Miss Lee, the Librarian and Nedda) at the Roundabout; and the In Gathering. Regional credits include in And the World Goes Round (Woman 1) at Pittsburgh Public Theater, Man Of La Mancha (Aldonza) at White Plains Performing Arts Center, Baby (Pam) at Papermill Playhouse, Dreamgirls (Michelle) at San Jose Repertory Theatre, Sacramento’s California Musical Theatre, Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre and North Carolina Theater, Lucky Stiff (Dominique du Monaco) at the York Theatre, Imaginary Friends (Soloist) at the Globe Theatre; CinderellaChessGypsyKiss Me, Kate, and La Cage aux Folles with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Ballad of Baby Doe (Meg) with the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Aint’ Misbehavin (Armelia) at Playhouse on the Green, Brief History of White Music at Hanna Theater Cabaret , 1001 Nights (Sophie) at George Street Playhouse, Mandela (Winnie Mandela) at Crossroads, Carmen and La Boheme with the Sarasota Opera. Rosena has performed internationally for three seasons with Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers & Band touring in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Hungary and the Netherlands as a featured soloist. Rosena Hill Jackson is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University holding a BFA in Music.

A native of Sarasota, Florida, Rosena’s CD If You Believe, combines jazz, gospel, and show tunes in honor of her late father.

About Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell
David Charles Abell is the newly appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of The Philly POPS. 

Born in North Carolina, David grew up in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. At the age of fourteen, he turned his attention to conducting and went on to study with Leonard Bernstein and Nadia Boulanger. He earned degrees from Yale University and the Juilliard School after intensive study of viola, piano, and composition. He has worked with such distinguished artists as Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Idina Menzel, Heather Headley, Bryn Terfel, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison and Michael Feinstein. Previously, as Guest Conductor and Principal Guest Conductor of The Philly POPS, he conducted Cole Porter’s Broadway: Too Darn HotLenny’s RevolutionBlockbuster Broadway, and A Philly POPS Christmas in 2013, 2014, 2015, and again for the record-setting run of A Philly POPS Christmas in 2019. 

David has appeared regularly on television, most notably conducting the 10th and 25th Anniversary concerts of Les Misérables. He has conducted five times at London’s BBC Proms, including a live telecast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Recordings include the musicals Miss SaigonMartin Guerre and Man of La ManchaSomething’s Gotta Give with baritone Simon Keenleyside, Forever with soprano Diana Damrau, and highlights from La Bohème and Madama Butterfly with the Royal Philharmonic. 

In the UK, David recently conducted his own critical edition of Kiss Me, Kate for Opera North. He has conducted many of the premier British orchestras, including the London Symphony, City of Birmingham, Bournemouth, and Royal Philharmonic. His work with the BBC Symphony Orchestra includes a centenary concert honoring his mentor Leonard Bernstein in 2018. A much-respected artist in London’s West End, David conducted the Olivier Awards ceremony for four years and was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s personal choice to lead the world premiere of Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre. 
David’s recent projects have included a series of Gershwin concerts at Kyiv National Theatre of Operetta in Ukraine, Carousel at the Vienna Volksoper and Sweeney Todd at the Zurich Opera House. David also conducted Barrie Kosky’s production of The Magic Flute at Opera Philadelphia, West Side Story at the Glimmerglass Festival, and Silent Night, Kevin Puts’ acclaimed opera about the World War I Christmas Truce, in Kansas City, Cincinnati and Detroit.