May 29, 2014

Modesto Symphony Orchestra showcases the dance greats

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra gets dancing and romancing in a show featuring music by Gershwin and Rodgers & Hammerstein.

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra will make like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for a night.

The evening of dancing and romancing will showcase the works of George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein on Friday at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto. Returning to lead the orchestra will be guest conductor Stuart Chafetz.

The song and dance show will feature Broadway entertainers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward performing to such favorites as “Singin’ in the Rain,” “All That Jazz,” “I Got Rhythm” and more.

Chafetz is back for his second engagement of the season. He was previously the resident conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony from 2007 to 2011 and has guest conducted for the orchestras of San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and Houston, among others. In August, he was guest conductor for the Modesto orchestra’s season-opening Picnic at the Pops show.

Hess and Ward will both make their debuts with the orchestra. The singing-and-dancing duo have performed together with various symphony orchestras including those in Philadelphia, Detroit and Atlanta.

Hess played the wealthy divorcée Tanya in the Broadway show “Mamma Mia” in 2001. Her other Broadway credits include “Crazy for You,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

On the small screen, she has appeared in the HBO comedy series “Flight of the Conchords” and was featured in the PBS Great Performances series in “My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs.”

Ward played Bobby Child in the London production of “Crazy for You” in 1993. Ten years later on Broadway, he appeared in “Never Gonna Dance.” He has spent 30 years on stage, film and television.

On the small screen his credits include “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “General Hospital.” His big screen credits include “For the Boys,” “Pennies From Heaven” and “S.O.B.”

As a choreographer, Ward has worked with Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor for their Las Vegas acts and Bette Midler and James Caan for the film “For the Boys” for 20th Century Fox.

Other numbers in the Modesto orchestra production include the works of Irving Berlin, Harry Warren, Louis Prima and Joe Garland.

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