The Philly POPS starts the new year with a tip of the hat to one of Broadway’s greatest luminaries, Marvin Hamlisch, conducted by Marvin’s mentee and friend, Todd Ellison, January 17–19, 2020. HAMLISCH: With Love features Disney Broadway powerhouse Ashley Brown and four Musical Theater students from Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance.
A precocious child, Marvin was admitted at age six into the Juilliard School, making him, at the time, the youngest person ever admitted into the program. Marvin’s music continues to touch people worldwide—with works stretching from Broadway (with A Chorus Line and They’re Playing Our Song) to Hollywood (with The Way We Were and The Sting). Marvin is one of two people to be named a PEGOT (a Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner)—making him a key figure in Broadway’s history.
At the time of his passing, Marvin was preparing to assume the role of Music Director for The Philly POPS. Now, his mentee and friend Todd Ellison leads the POPS in this all-new program, honoring Marvin’s contributions to music, as well as Todd’s friendship with the storied composer.
“This is a show of my favorite pieces of music that he wrote,” Ellison said. “Not just the big hits, but those which show off his range and his talent.” Noteworthy songs in the show include Marvin’s breakout hit “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” from Ski Party, “At The Ballet” from A Chorus Line, and “Nobody Does It Better,” which he co-wrote for the iconic James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.
This show’s featured guest artist, Ashley Brown, previously appeared in 2018’s smash-hit Sinatra & Friends show, where her rendition of “My Way” received a standing ovation. She debuted with The Philly POPS BIG Band at PARX Casino in June for Big Band Broadway with Ashley Brown, and will appear with the POPS again on April 4 and 5 for Disney’s Broadway Hits, where she will sing songs from Mary Poppins, her star role on Broadway.
Making their Philly POPS debuts are four Temple University Musical Theater students, Isabel Robin, Alexa Joseph, Alana Robinson, and Jordan Hayes. As a partner with Temple University, The Philly POPS provides these performance opportunities as part of its POPS in Schools programming—to give these students the experience of singing with the full POPS orchestra, and for the experience of singing alongside Ashley Brown. “We’re lucky to have [these] students singing ‘At the Ballet’ from A Chorus Line and a medley of early Lesley Gore pop hits. Marvin loved new talent.”
One special element that Ellison has added into the show is a nod to Marvin’s revival of ragtime music—particularly music of the “King of Ragtime,” Scott Joplin. “Marvin brought ragtime craze back into fashion,” Ellison said. “I’ve also put together an arrangement of Scott Joplin rags, and I’ll be playing the piano with orchestra.” Marvin helped re-popularize Joplin’s song “The Entertainer” with his orchestration for the 1973 film, The Sting, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and Adaptation.
Above all, the performance will showcase Marvin’s love for music, and how it shaped who he was. “‘What I Did for Love’ from A Chorus Line is my favorite song by Marvin, because it sums up his life. Everything he did was for music.”
HAMLISCH: With Love runs January 17–19 at The Kimmel Center for The Performing Arts.
Tickets are available at www.phillypops.org/hamlisch.