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DPAO presents ‘The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’

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The Disabled Persons Action Organization often combines national and local talent for its annual fall concert. But this year’s show stands out for the organization.

“This year has the potential to be one of the greatest shows we’ve ever done,” DPAO board member and volunteer Joseph L. Rich said.

In an interview at the Times, Mr. Rich was seated next to David Elmer, the newly elected president of the Northern Choral Society. Mr. Elmer also spoke enthusiastically of the Oct. 6 “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” concert that will bring singers from Broadway and the north country to the stage of Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St.

DPAO and Northern Choral have never worked together before, Mr. Rich noted.

“I’ve admired Northern Choral for a long time, especially the special performances they do during the holiday season,” said Mr. Rich, the former chief executive of DPAO. “I just want to showcase the talent that we have in this area.”

The chance to work together came about, in part, because of the decision by Northern Choral Society to branch out, Mr. Elmer said.

“This is a new idea for us,” he said. “We’re just trying to take it outside the box.”

He said such appearances as the DPAO concert could be an excellent recruiting tool for Northern Choral, which is open to all singers.

“You have to look beyond where we are now,” Mr. Elmer said. “Maybe some of these (appearances) will build with the youth to come in.”

Northern Choral Society was formed in 1954 at Asbury United Methodist Church in Watertown. The group is best known for its annual Christmas concert of liturgical songs traditionally held at Asbury.

The group also will sing with the Orchestra of Northern New York when it presents Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on Oct. 27 in Potsdam and on Oct. 28 in Watertown as part of the orchestra’s 25th anniversary year. The Potsdam Community Chorus also will take part in both of the Beethoven concerts.

The Northern Choral choir that will perform at the DPAO show will be a “more consolidated” version of its approximately 150-member holiday group. Mr. Elmer anticipates there will be about two dozen singers. They will sing selections from “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which opened on Broadway in 1971 with music by Mr. Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

According to Sharon Klein Productions of New York City, the agency producing the concert, other Andrew Lloyd Webber shows represented in the concert are “Song and Dance,” “Starlight Express,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Cats” and “Evita.”

“The nice thing is that all of these people who will be coming up have had lead roles in most of these Andrew Lloyd Webber shows,” Ms. Klein said.

One solo, “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” from “Evita” will be sung by Sarah K. Sharlow, Chaumont, who was asked by Mr. Rich to perform.

Mrs. Sharlow, the daughter of Steven and Regina Elliott of Watertown, is in her second year of teaching music at Indian River Intermediate School. She’s a 2011 graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, where she was named a Presser Scholar in her senior year for academic and musical excellence. She regularly performs locally in church services and recitals.

She recalls going to DPAO Broadway-themed concerts as a youngster and being inspired by the visiting singers.

“I remember being blown away by the talent,” she said.

Now, as a teacher, she has a different perspective on the concerts.

“Shows like this can really transform young people,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to see beyond just what they do in the classroom. They can see there’s a lot of talent out there, and it could be them up there someday.”

The Broadway singers scheduled to appear:

n Danny Zolli: This tenor has played Jesus, Judas and Annas on Broadway and in more than 19 productions of “Jesus Christ Superstar” throughout the world. Some of his regional theater credits include playing Che in “Evita,” the title role in “Candide” and Tobias in “Sweeney Todd.” Mr. Zolli has performed in three other DPAO-sponsored concerts.

n Kimilee Bryant: Ms. Bryant, a soprano, has performed the role of Christine Daae in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, Switzerland, Toronto and on the U.S. national tour. She has also played the diva La Carlotta from “The Phantom” on Broadway and the national tour.

n Charles Bergell: Mr. Bergell’s credits include the lead role of Jean Valjean in both the Broadway and national touring companies of “Les Miserables,” Monsieur Andre in the second national tour of “The Phantom of the Opera” and the 20th-anniversary tour of “Evita.” Mr. Bergell, a baritone, has performed in three other DPAO concerts.

n Natalie Toro: Ms. Toro played the role of Eponine in “Les Miserables” on Broadway. She has performed in national tours of “Cats,” “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “In the Heights.” In 2008 and 2009, she received BroadwayWorld Fan Theatre Awards for best featured actress for playing Madame DeFarge in “A Tale of Two Cities” on Broadway.

The musical director for the concert is Eugene Gwozdz. On Broadway, Mr. Gwozdz has played keyboard for “The Full Monty” and “Oklahoma!” He was music director/pianist/arranger for the hit show “Thrill Me” by the York Theatre Company, which earned two Drama Desk nominations for outstanding musical and outstanding music.

The details ...
WHAT: “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” presented by the Disabled Persons Action Organization
WHEN/WHERE: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at Dulles State office Building, 317 Washington St.
COST: Gold tickets are $50, reserved tickets are $30 and general admission tickets are $20. Tickets can be ordered or by calling DPAO at 782-0044 or 1 (800) 33-2859. General admission tickets are available at all Watertown Kinney Drugs locations.
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