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Arts Blast: Phoenix Symphony to set off Broadway musical New Year fireworks

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Big Broadway stars are shooting into the Phoenix Valley this weekend, singing songs from roles they originated and played in the Big Apple, and telling some backstage tales. Phoenix Symphony guest conductor Randall Craig Fleischer and Broadway leading lady Susan Egan shared in phone interviews some of their excitement about the upcoming BRAVO! Broadway shows.

"The magic of BRAVO! Broadway comes from pairing current, working Broadway actors with a professional, full symphony," said Egan, whose Broadway credits include Beauty and the Beast's original Belle and the title role in Thoroughly Modern Millie among others.

Egan joins Broadway standouts Christiane Noll and Gary Mauer at Phoenix Symphony Hall for three performances this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Noll portrayed Mother on Broadway in Ragtime and also created the starring role of Emma in Jeykll & Hyde. Mauer is best known for playing on Broadway as the Phantom in the Hal Prince production of The Phantom of the Opera. He also performed in the Broadway production of Les Miserables as the student revolutionist leader Enjolras.

With an overflowing effervescence, Egan said, "This show is like a party with the best of the best!" While she has worked with her friends Noll and Mauer separately, this weekend will be the first time the three of them have done a show together. They'll serenade the crowds with solos, duets and trios from shows like Wicked, Cabaret, Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Hairspray, Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Show Boat, My Fair Lady and more.

"There's a casual feeling and a levity," she bubbled, "that lets a traditional audience be a little more rowdy."

She also noted what a treat it is to sing with 50+ symphony musicians when Broadway pit orchestras are often comprised of just 10 to 12 players or less. The topic sends her into cheers for longtime friend and Phoenix Symphony guest conductor Randall Craig Fleischer.

"I've worked with Randy a hundred million times," she laughed. "It's not every conductor that can lead a huge group this way. He is a unique talent. He's the best there is."

From Fleischer's side of the baton, it's a challenge he zealously tackles again and again. "I sorta' love it all," confided the internationally-known, impressively-accomplished conductor. "It's not exactly easy to guide such beautiful instrumentation without bogging down or getting too heavy for the vocalists."

Audience members will hear the Phoenix Symphony play some of Fleischer's own orchestrations this weekend, including his arrangements for BRAVO! Broadway of Aquarius and the Mamma Mia medley.

Summing up her sentiments about the show, Egan relayed, "It's so cool that Broadway has become popular, almost mainstream now. Seems everyone can hum tunes from current Broadway musicals." The swelling orchestrations are so satisfying. The fun backstage stories are so inviting.

For all the rich, exciting familiarity, however, with sparkling, full-color certainty she guaranteed, "They've never heard Broadway like this!"

Arts BLAST! - because art IS a BLAST -
Because sometimes a quick heads up - makes you want to head out
- BLAST off!

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