MSO brings Broadway hits to The Maryland Theatre

Musical theater veteran joins orchestra for pops concert

Musical theater veteran joins orchestra for pops concert

September 21, 2006|by KATE COLEMAN

Craig Schulman says he was 7 or 8 years old when he saw his first Broadway musical.

It was a touring production of "West Side Story," performed at Westbury Music Fair in his native Long Island, N.Y.

"It was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen," he said in a phone interview from his home in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

That excitement has stayed with Schulman, and he'll be sharing it when he performs his Heroes, Monsters and Madmen pops program with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night.

The concert brings the MSO's 25th season to The Maryland Theatre. It is Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze's eighth season with the orchestra.


She called the evening's music a "tour-de-force program," adding that Schulman has starred on Broadway and in national touring companies in many of the roles he'll be singing.

Schulman is a thorough professional - a wonderful actor and singer - mesmerizing on stage, Schulze said. "He can really make you focus on his wonderful artistry. I'm really excited to be working with him again," she added.

Schulman doesn't wear costumes to bring his 12 or 13 different characters to life in "Heroes, Monsters and Madmen."

"I do it with acting. I change my voice; I change my physicality a little bit," he said.

The tenor has portrayed "The Phantom of the Opera," Jean Valjean in "Les Misrables" - both on the Broadway stage and on tour around the world. He's had the title role in "Jekyll & Hyde"; he's played Che in "Evita," Archibald Craven in "The Secret Garden" and Teyve in "Fiddler on the Roof."

Schulman's talents also take him to leading roles on the opera stage, and he's the creator and producer of Broadway-themed concert series, including this weekend's.

Although he's busy traveling and performing - he was booked for all but two weekends from last January through June - Schulman is committed to his passion of "kids in the arts." He and his wife, Monica Robinson, have created a nonprofit organization in memory of their daughter. Jenna's Dream Inc. offers a choir for children in grades five through 12 and has given more than $30,000 in scholarships to high school seniors who are continuing their education in the performing arts after graduation.

Schulman remembers sitting in his room as a young child, listening to his mother's scratchy old recordings of classic American musicals - "Carousel," "Oklahoma."

"Something about it intrigued me, and I've been lucky enough to have been given the equipment and make a life with it," he said.

Music reaches people in a unique way, Schulman said. The stories that musicals tell have universal appeal.

The American Musical Theater is one of the best things about American music, Schulze said. She is thrilled that the MSO is able to present gems from that great, all-American tradition.

A season to celebrate

The 2006-07 season is Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze's eighth and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's 25th season, dubbed A Season to Celebrate. That says a lot about this community and its commitment to excellence and to really ensuring that the very best is available to everybody, Schulze said.

"One of our goals this season was to really tailor very special programs with top artists and great masterpieces," Schulze said. "I think that it's a very fine showcase for what we've accomplished in 25 years."

Upcoming concerts include:

· MasterWorks I: Nicolas Kendall returns to perform Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15.

· MasterWorks II: Shai Wosner performs one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's early masterpieces, Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12.

· Holiday Concert: "Silver Bells" features Hagerstown Choral Arts and St. Nick at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17.

· MasterWorks III: William DeRosa performs Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B minor at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11.

· Family Concert: "Just Beyond the Junkyard" features the musical storytellers of Tales and Scales at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3.

· MasterWorks IV: Mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer returns to perform Hector Berlioz's "Les Nuits d'Ete," at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 24, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 25.

· MasterWorks V: MSO's string section is the star in the performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Serenade. Baltimore Choral Arts Society is featured in Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 22.

Season subscriptions offer preferred seating, flexible ticket exchanges and savings. For tickets, subscriptions and information, contact the Maryland Symphony Orchestra at 301-797-4000 or online at

If you go ...

WHAT: MSO pops concert

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday,Sept. 23

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $21 to $79 for adults, $11 to $40 for children 12 and younger and full-time students, and are available by calling 301-797-4000 and at the MSO box office, 13 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

MORE: Washington County Arts Council will host a preconcert wine tasting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the WCAC gallery at 14 W. Washington St., Hagerstown. Hors d'oeuvres will be served and attendees can sample a variety of wines, which will be available for purchase. The event is free for Pops! ticket holders; reservations are being accepted at the MSO office: 301-797-4000.

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