Monday, April 11, 2011

Divas take Center Stage as the Grand Rapids Symphony Presents a “Wicked” Evening of Broadway Hits and Popular Favorites

Julia Murney and Jennifer Laura Thompson, stars of the smash Broadway hit “Wicked,” will join the Grand Rapids Symphony for a fantastic concert of diva showstoppers May 13-15. New York Pops Music Director Steven Reineke will lead the Grammy-nominated orchestra as guest conductor in a return engagement to DeVos Performance Hall that will showcase his exceptional artistry and boundless enthusiasm. “Wicked Divas” is this season’s final Fox Motors Pops concert and will feature popular favorites from “Wicked,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Chicago” and “My Fair Lady,” among others. Performances will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 15.

“I am looking forward to being back on the podium with the Grand Rapids Symphony conducting ‘Wicked Divas,’ with the stars from the hit Broadway musical,” Reineke explained. “I have put together a true diva tribute covering all styles of music and many favorite selections from pop, Broadway, Hollywood and more. It is sure to be a wicked fun evening of great music.”

Julia Murney has played the misunderstood wicked witch, Elphaba, on Broadway and on the national tour of “Wicked.” Her other New York shows including Andrew Lippia’s “The Wild Party,” for which she earned a Drama Desk nomination, as well as “Lennon,” “Crimes of the Heart” and others. From the Kennedy Center and Town Hall, she has also performed regionally with the Philly Pops and Cincinnati Pops. Murney also has a number of television credits, including “30 Rock,” “Sex and the City,” “NYPD Blue” and all three “Law and Orders.”

A native of Southfield and University of Michigan graduate, Jennifer Laura Thompson has played Glinda, the good witch, in “Wicked” on Broadway. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in “Urinetown,” and also has performed in “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Footloose” and the premier of “Little Miss Sunshine.” She has numerous off-Broadway roles to her credit, as well as appearances with the Atlanta Symphony, Toronto Symphony and others.

Murney and Thompson will sing favorites such as “I Could Have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady,” “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic” and, of course, “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.” These classic songs will be interspersed with arrangements from Reineke such as “I Hear A Symphony: Symphonic Sounds of Diana Ross.”

One of the most sought-after pops conductors, composers and arrangers, Reineke was appointed principal pops conductor to the National Symphony Orchestra this season. His guest conducting appearances have included the Hollywood Bowl, where he performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and multi-faceted entertainer Wayne Brady, as well as with orchestras in Detroit, Houston, Toronto and Baltimore, among others. He has also collaborated with rock legend Peter Frampton.

“Our Broadway show is always some of the most exciting and popular music that we perform in the Fox Motors Pops Series,” said Associate Conductor John Varineau. “I am excited that we are featuring two of the leading ladies from the smash hit, ‘Wicked,’ along with the return of the fantastically talented conductor Steven Reineke.

“This will be an entire evening of showstoppers from Broadway and film, a perfect way to end our fantastic season of the Fox Motors Pops.”

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert at DeVos Performance Hall three hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster at 1.800.745.3000, online at, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets including D&W Fresh Market and select Family Fare locations.

To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit