MSO takes leap of faith with new Pops! program

September 21, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN - The Maryland Symphony Orchestra's addition of Broadway-style dance was well-received Saturday at The Maryland Theatre.

The MSO's Pops! program, "Steppin' Out," featured Broadway vocalist Debbie Gravitte, a Tony Award winner, and dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward, who also sang.

MSO personnel and board members believe it is the first time that the orchestra has ever played with nonclassical dancers. Andrew Kipe, the orchestra's executive director, said the MSO has performed with ballet dancers in the past. It also has had prior Broadway-themed concerts, he said.

The orchestra and guest artists performed songs by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Jerome Kern. Kipe said "Steppin' Out" was a national touring show that MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze had been wanting to bring to Hagerstown for a while.


During the show, Schulze referred to Ward and Hess as the new "Fred and Ginger."

"They happened to be my favorites," Schulze said during the show. "Indeed, I just happened to be enchanted with Fred and Ginger."

The program generated buzz among attendees before the show.

Terry and Kathy Tierney of Hagerstown said they were looking forward to seeing the show because of the dancers.

"I like this kind of music a lot," Terry Tierney said. "I have a great appreciation for the choreography."

Before the program began, Allen Laferriere of Hagerstown said he didn't know there was going to be dancing, and said he wasn't a huge fan of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

"I knew there was a concert and I decided to come, no matter what it was," Laferriere said.

His companion, Cherie Laferriere, said she thought the dancers would add visual interest.

The MSO will continue its 27th season with five MasterWorks concerts, the first scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19 and featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

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