Stage Notes Rocks Out with Ward Stare

Ward-StareMaestro Wards Stare, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s music director, joined host Robert Hammond in studio  at WXXI to talk about the RPO’s upcoming concerts, Broadway Rocks. Stage Notes did indeed rock out with songs from Wicked, Rent, The Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray, and more. Full program available on demand below.

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Stare is likable and knowledgeable. You’ll enjoy the lightness of the conversation, especially the life stories he shares. His story about the famous Styx song “Come Sail Away” is a highlight. Sit back and listen to a special rockin’ edition of Stage Notes. Remember to follow Stage notes on Twitter @stagenotes, and like our page on  Facebook.

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Stage Notes Pays Tribute to David Bowie

wolfIn tribute to David Bowie, host Robert Hammond aired Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Bowie. Conducted by Eugene Ormandy and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, this classical composition was originally released in 1978. Hammond aired the 1992 remastered version in its entirety on Stage Notes the week of January 10, 2016.  The entire program now available on demand below.

Happy Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving Stage Notes

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Thanks for visiting the site!  Click below to listen to the special Thanksgiving edition of Stage Notes.

Happy Anniversary, Stage Notes!

HAIt seems Like Stage Notes began airing on WXXI FM 91.5 yesterday – October 24th marked its sixth anniversary.  Although it airs elsewhere throughout the country, WXXI was the first station that gave it the green light.

Thank you for listening and supporting the program.  Below is a link to the full anniversary program that aired.  It featured many special guests, including Norm Silverstein, Sue Rogers, Elissa Orlando, Ruth Phinney, and Julia Figueras. NPR’s Ari Shapiro was kind enough to join the celebration. Thank you, Ari!

Please Follow Stage Notes on Twitter @stagenotes, and be sure to like our page on Facebook.  Again, thank you.  Enjoy!

Megan Hilty is a Smash

Megan Hilty with RPO's president, Charlie Owen.
Megan Hilty with RPO president, Charlie Owens.

The  Rochester Pop’s season opened last night with the glorious Megan Hilty.  Don’t worry, if you didn’t go, you have one more chance—tonight at 8 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Do not miss out!

You know you’re in for something wonderful when conductor Jeff Tyzik starts out a concert  by saying the guest is not only talented, but a genuinely nice person. For anyone who attends Pops concerts as frequently as I do, you know he does not often gush about artists.

The orchestra began the concert performing a Tyzik arrangement of some of Marvin Hamlisch’s best known songs, including “The Way We Were,” “Nobody Does it Better, “The Entertainer,” and of course, many selections from A Chorus Line. It was a splendid way to begin the night, and the orchestra was in top form.

Then, Megan Hilty came out. Wow! Yes, she’s beautiful! Her gowns were breathtaking. But boy, this girl can sing! She does so with such ease and control. There wasn’t a second when she and the orchestra weren’t perfectly in synch. Her ability to interpret every nuance of a song leaves you hanging on every note. Her expression and grace are unparalleled. She was born to be on stage.

The concert was filled with Broadway standards, including  “Luck be a Lady Tonight” and a highpoint, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” I believe Ms. Hilty could be described as a modern day Marilyn Monroe.

Speaking of Norma Jeane, another highpoint was Hilty’s performance of a song from Smash, the two season musical drama on NBC she starred in, “Second Hand Baby Grand.” Prior to its performance, she gave a detailed description about the song. After sung, few eyes were dry. I’ve included the version from Smash (on demand below).

We will be hearing a lot more about Megan Hilty. She is a star. She is a Smash.

Hilty is on stage again tonight with the Rochester Pops. Information is available at RPO.org.

Megan Hilty’s Interview with Robert Hammond Now Available

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The talented and beautiful Megan Hilty joined host Robert Hammond on Stage Notes to discuss her Broadway and television career, as well as her performances with orchestras throughout the country, including the Rochester Pops on Friday & Saturday, September 11 &12 at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Music from her CD, It Happens All the Time, and Smash are featured.  Songs from Broadway shows on tour are also showcased throughout the program. Click below to listen.

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Bio from http://meganhiltyonline.com

In a few short years, Megan Hilty has gone from understudy on Broadway to a star of stage, screen, and music. Her impressive accomplishments have made her one of the fastest rising talents in the entertainment world.

Megan was born in Bellevue, Washington on March 29, 1981. Drawn to music at a young age, she explored a career in opera before deciding to pursue musical theatre. After graduating from the Washington Academy of Performing Arts Conservatory High School in Redmond, Washington, she moved to Southern Oregon and spent two years waiting tables and working odd jobs while performing in shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Hello Dolly!, and My Fair Lady. She then enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she performed in a variety of college and regional productions. She graduated from CMU in 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre.

Upon graduation, Megan was offered the role of “Glinda” standby for the Broadway company of Wicked. She made her Broadway debut in the fall of 2004 opposite Tony winner Idina Menzel, and was asked to take over as principal Glinda in May 2005. After a year on Broadway, Megan performed the role on tour and in the 2007-2009 Los Angeles production.

During her years with Wicked, Megan was workshopping the role of “Doralee” in 9 to 5: The Musical, Dolly Parton’s adaptation of the popular film. In 2009, Megan starred in the show on Broadway alongside Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block. She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in a Musical, a Drama League Award, and an Ovation Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

During this time period, Megan made guest appearances on many television shows, including Bones, The Closer, Desperate Housewives, and Ugly Betty, while also providing the singing voice for Snow White in Shrek the Third. She also made concert appearances around the U.S. in the Meg an’ Sho Show (alongside Shoshana Bean) and with a solo cabaret show called Megan Hilty Sings the Blondes.

In 2011, Megan joined the cast of NBC’s Smash as “Ivy Lynn,” an actress who is desperate to land the lead in a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker said of her work: “Hilty has built a character who feels like a real Broadway diva: sexy, funny, ambitious, insecure, at once selfish and giving.” The show aired from 2012-2013 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Outstanding Musical or Comedy Series, while also offering Megan the opportunity to record both covers of popular hits and original songs from the musical within the show, “Bombshell.”

During her hiatus between Smash‘s first and second seasons, Megan starred in the New York City Center production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as Lorelai Lee, a role made famous by Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe. Megan received rave reviews for both the production and its cast recording. Ben Brantley of The New York Times called the opening performance “…one of those single, golden nights, so cherished by theatergoers, that thrust its leading lady into the firmament of musical stardom.”

In 2013, Megan released It Happens All the Time, her first solo album with Portrait (an imprint of Sony Masterworks), and also made her Carnegie Hall debut. Megan also returned to TV with NBC’s Sean Saves the World starring Sean Hayes.

Megan currently makes frequent concert appearances, both with symphony orchestras throughout the United States and in solo concert at smaller venues. She also regularly performs in a variety of special events, such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or Christmas in Washington. Megan maintains an active voiceover career, providing the voice of “Rosetta” in the Disney Fairies series and the “China Doll Princess” in the animated feature Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.

Megan and her husband, Brian Gallagher, were married in November 2013. Their first daughter, Viola, was born in September 2014.

Head “Into the Woods” at CenterStage Theatre

images-100x100-centerstage-Into_The_Woods_WEB-185x118I’ve been known to say that Stephen Sondheim is a genius. His musicals are not easy to tackle, especially Into the Woods.  I doubt I’d be up to the challenge. Well, as usual, Ralph Meranto, artistic director for the JCC’s CenterStage, took the challenge.

To be honest, I was expecting a fair to good production. (Keep in mind; some of the best actors on the planet were just in the motion picture!) Into the Woods at CenterStage is a masterpiece! The cast was chosen perfectly, and they delivered a Broadway caliber show. The production is flawless. Who knew three hours in the woods could go so fast?!

The score is every bit as important as the acting. Music director Brian Clickner put together a magnificent ensemble that led the cast into the woods impeccably.

At intermission, I sent Ralph a one word text: Wow! Everyone involved should be glistening. You did the genius proud.

Into the Woods is on stage at CenterStage through May 17. Information is available at jccrochester.org.