This weekend – Ashley Brown bring Broadway to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

POPS5 PhotoThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth and final concert in the 2014-2015 Acxiom Pops Live! Series: Ashley Brown’s Broadway. Fresh from her run as Mary Poppins on Broadway, Ashley Brown and the ASO take over the stage with thrilling renditions of Broadway favorites. All ages will enjoy this special performance featuring music from Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music and more familiar hits from Broadway musicals and beloved Disney films.

Concerts are Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. & Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. and take place at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center, 12701 Hinson Road, Little Rock, AR.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online at; at the Connor Performing Arts Center box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at the ASO website.

Ashley Brown, soprano, originated the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway for which she received Outer Critics, Drama League and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress. Ms. Brown also starred as Mary Poppins in the national tour of Mary Poppins where she garnered a 2010 Garland award for “Best Performance in a Musical.” Ms. Brown’s other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and she has starred in the national tour of Disney’s “On The Record.” Ashley recently returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to star in the role of Laurey in Oklahoma! She previously played Magnolia opposite Nathan Gunn in Francesca Zembello’s Show Boat at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ashley has performed with virtually all of the top orchestras in North America.

The Pops Live! Series is sponsored by Acxiom.

The program will include:


  • Overture: Broadway Tonight  (ASO only)
  • Almost Like Being in Love/This Can’t be Love
  • So In Love
  • Le Jazz Hot
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (arr. Mancini) (ASO only)
  • Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins
  • Disney Medley



  • The Sound of Music Selection (ASO only)
  • Ring Them Bells
  • Grateful
  • The Man I Love
  • Fiddler on the Roof  (arr. John Williams) (ASO only)
  • Defying Gravity
  • Our Time/Children Will Listen (with chorus)
  • I’ll Be Seeing You

(Selections subject to change)

Broadway, Movie and Holiday Music all part of Ark Symphony 2014-15 Acxiom Pops Live lineup

ASO_2-colorMusic of the Silver Screen, Great White Way and boughs of green highlight the 2014-2015 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Acxiom Pops Live! Series.

Next year is the first of their two-year hiatus from Robinson Center Music Hall (as it gets transformed into a true music hall instead of a civic gathering room).  To entice audience members to go along for the journey of the new, temporary location, ASO Music Director Philip Mann has created a lineup of spectacular music performed by powerhouse talent as well as the phenomenal musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

The Acxiom Pops Live! Series will be performed at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center.  (Think: Maumelle=Masterworks, PA=Pops)  The series will kick off on October 4 & 5 with Bill Conti’s Academy Awards.  Oscar and Emmy winner Bill Conti (who also is conductor of the Academy Awards orchestra) will lead the ASO in a celebration of songs from the movies. As a composer, Conti has won an Oscar for his score to The Right Stuff and was nominated for Rocky and For Your Eyes Only. Other movies and TV include Private Benjamin, “Dynasty,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Falcon Crest,” The Karate Kid, “North & South,” and Broadcast News.

The ASO Holiday Extravaganza is an Arkansas tradition in December.  In 2014 it will take place on December 19, 20 & 21.  It will feature Christmas carols, sing-alongs, and some of Arkansas’ outstanding musicians and singers. There are always traditional favorites and new surprises thrown in.  This will help audiences relax after completing their shopping – or take a break from the last minute shopping frenzy. (Tickets also make a great early-Christmas present, and it falls in the middle of Hanukkah and makes a wonderful present for that too.)

Another ASO tradition is the Broadway Valentine’s concert. It will take place on February 14 and 15.  The music of Broadway and Hollywood will be the framework for an evening of song and dance by Broadway vets Joan Hess and Kirby Ward. Their singing and dancing will remind audiences (or introduce younger audiences to the mastery) of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell.

The classic songs of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin have stood the test of time and are definitely timeless. The great vocalist Sylvia McNair will offer her take on these standards while accompanied by Jeffrey Biegel on piano.  This concert promises to be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears because it will also feature rare video clips, family photos and state-of-the art visuals to help share the story of the Gershwins and their music.

The Pops Live! Series for 2014-2015 will conclude with Ashley Brown’s Broadway.  Miss Brown was the original Mary Poppins when the eponymously entitled musical opened on Broadway.  For her work in the production, she received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League nominations. She made her Broadway debut as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  Backed by the ASO, she will sing Broadway favorites such as “Nothing Like a Dame,” “People,” and “Tonight” as well as Disney classics such as “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

All Acxiom Pops Live! concerts will be performed at 7:30pm on Saturday evenings and 3pm on Sunday evenings.

It is Spring – Fly a Kite (or see art about it)

Today marks the first day of spring aka the Vernal Equinox.  It is a good day to go kite flying.

Next season the Arkansas Rep will be presenting Mary Poppins with its song about flying a kite.  The original Broadway Mary Poppins, Ashley Brown, will be performing with the Arkansas Symphony as well next season.

But this year, on the Arkansas Arts Center website, you can see art from their collection which features kites.

Alice Andrews - Kite Flying - from collection of Arkansas Arts Center

Alice Andrews – Kite Flying – from collection of Arkansas Arts Center

The first is Alice Andrews’ Kite Flying.  This 1978 watercolor on paper depicts a kite being flown in a field. The perspective is from above the kite looking down on it and the ground below. The artwork measures 21.5 by 29.5 inches.  It was a gift to the Arkansas Arts Center in 1978 by the Mid-Southern Watercolorists.

Alice Andrews lives in an old white farmhouse built in the 1800’s in the Boxley Valley in Newton County, Arkansas. Boxley is full of clear rocky creeks and pastures and is surrounded by mountains. It has the feeling of being back in time about one hundred years, and has more cow residents than people.

Alice works in both oils and pastels. Her subject matter ranges from landscapes and paintings of her home and garden, to paintings of dreams, of allegory and of pure abstraction. Alice has been awarded residency at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico, and the respected pastel artist Wolf Kahn personally awarded her a residency at the prestigious Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.

She is a graduate of Henderson State University and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Lothar Krueger's Day of the Great Kite Race - from collection of Arkansas Arts Center

Lothar Krueger’s Day of the Great Kite Race – from collection of Arkansas Arts Center

Another piece in the Arts Center collection is Lothar Krueger’s Day of the Great Kite Race.  This 1980 drawing is chalk and colored pencil on paper. The art measures 21 7/8  by 34 inches.  It was purchased by the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation after the 13th Annual Prints, Drawings and Crafts Exhibition.

Lothar Krueger, was a native of Two Rivers, WI.  Born in 1909, he became interested in art in Washington High School where he was “considered one of the greatest all-round football players in that school’s history.” He received his B.S. degree in art from Milwaukee State Teachers College in 1942 when he was drafted into the army. After officers training he took part in the World War II.  In the war, he took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and received two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.  In 1947, he had one of his first art shows at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison.

Krueger joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas. During his tenure on the art faculty at the university, he established himself as a major artist in Arkansas and in the regional and national art scene by winning numerous awards and honors. He taught Art, Art Education, and Art Criticism from 1953 until 1981, and also served as acting chairman of the art department for a year. After his retirement from the university, he continued to live in Fayetteville.   He died in January 2009 at the age of 89.


Children Flying Kites by Manfred Schwartz – from collection of Arkansas Arts Center

Manfred Schwartz’s Children Flying Kites is also in the Arkansas Arts Center collection. This 1960 oil on canvas measures 42 by 34 inches. It was a gift to the Arkansas Arts Center in 2005 from Janice M. Ireland.

In Manfred Schwartz’s lifetime, he produced a significant and varied oeuvre, and was extolled by art critics and museums. Born in Poland in 1909, he emigrated to New York in 1920 at the age of 11, and was something of a child prodigy. Early in his career he showed side by side with Maurice Vlaminck, Bernard Buffet, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth.

In 1929 he moved to Paris. There his art gained a new sense of freedom, which he expanded for the next forty years.  Educated at the Sorbonne in Paris, the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, the Art Students League in New York, and the National Academy of Design in New York. Studied with Charles Hawthorne in Provincetown, John Sloan, and Bridgemen.

Manfred Schwartz created a sensational body of work; oils, pastels, lithographs, and we can see his evolution within three major periods that span fifty years of work.  His earliest paintings were portraits and still-lifes. The colors were deep and muted, he preferred the umbers to the yellows. By 1940 he began to paint in a more abstract manner. His colors intensified and his images seemed ahead of their time.

Schwartz died in New York in 1970.