Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Goodspeed Musicals will join to Celebrate 70 years of Tony Award-winning music in a spectacular concert event on February 20

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Featuring Special Guest Artists Gizel Jiménez, Conor Ryan, Tony Sheldon and Laurie Wells

HARTFORD, JANUARY 27, 2016 – Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Goodspeed Musicals will join to celebrate 70 years of Tony Award-winning music in a blockbuster one-night-only concert event, HSO & GOODSPEED CELEBRATE THE BEST OF BROADWAY, on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. Led by guest conductor Michael O’Flaherty, who is now in his 25th year as Resident Music Director for Goodspeed Musicals, the concert will spotlight the best of Broadway through the years. This exciting partnership will feature the talents of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, special performances by soloists Gizel Jiménez, Conor Ryan, Tony Sheldon and Laurie Wells, and aspiring professional performers from The Hartt School Musical Theatre Department’s Class of 2016.

The unique alliance between the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Goodspeed Musicals, which is recognized around the world as the “home of the American musical,” will provide audiences with a rare opportunity to experience the music of Broadway’s biggest hits performed by talented artists in one extraordinary evening. Some of the Tony Award-winning productions that will be celebrated in song include Guys and Dolls; Ain’t Misbehavin’; Hello, Dolly!; Spamalot; My Fair Lady; The Wiz; South Pacific; Rent; Les Misérables and more!

The evening’s featured artists have all performed in past Goodspeed productions and boast numerous and diverse theatre credits from Broadway and beyond.

Gizel Jiménez wowed audiences with her arresting performance as Caroline in Goodspeed’s The Theory of Relativity last spring. In addition to various regional theatre and Off-Broadway productions, she performed as Rosalia in the National Tour of West Side Story. Next up, Gizel will be taking on the role of Princess Anna in Disney’s Frozen at the Hyperion Theater in Anaheim, CA this spring.

Conor Ryan’s performance as Jean-Michel in Goodspeed’s critically acclaimed production of La Cage aux Folles delighted Goodspeed Opera House audiences this past summer. He starred opposite Kate Baldwin in the Off-Broadway revival of john and jen, performed in Broadway’s Cinderella, the Public Theater’s production of The Fortress Of Solitude, and Second Stage’s production of Invisible Thread.

Tony Sheldon is a multi-award-winning actor whose unforgettable portrayal of Horace Vandergelder in Goodspeed Musicals’ Hello, Dolly! earned him the Connecticut Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actor. Sheldon played the role of Bernadette in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert for 1750 performances in Australia, New Zealand, London, Toronto and on Broadway, winning the Theatre World Award and nominations for the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award, the Drama League Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. In London he was nominated for the Olivier Award and won the Toronto Theatre Critics Award and the DORA Award as Best Actor in a Musical. In New York he has starred with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Tracey Ullman in The Bandwagon at Encores/City Center, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol with Douglas Sills, and Art & Science with John Tartaglia, and was featured in Broadway Backwards at the Palace Theatre and A Tribute to Audra McDonald for the Drama League.

Laurie Wells thrilled Connecticut audiences with her performance in the dual role of Bobbi/Gabby in Goodspeed Musicals City of Angels and in the iconic role of Dorothy in 42nd Street, both at the Goodspeed Opera House. In 2014 she appeared in Sing For Your Shakespeare</strong> at Westport Country Playhouse. On Broadway and again with the National Tour company she performed as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!. Ms. Wells also toured the country with the Broadway hit Swing!. Currently she can be seen starring in Trip of Love, a journey through the 60’s with song and dance at Stage 42 in NYC.

“We congratulate our colleagues at the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the American Federation of Musicians in successfully completing negotiations that will ensure the symphony’s future for many years to come. All of Connecticut can be proud of this fine collaboration,” Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed’s Executive Director shared. “Goodspeed Musicals is honored to partner with this important organization and talented artists in presenting an unforgettable celebration of 70 years of Tony Award-winning music.”

HSO Director of Artistic Operations and Administration Steve Collins said, “The Hartford Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to collaborate with Goodspeed’s incredibly talented staff and artists. The Tony Award-winning theatre has been a driving force behind the development of American musical theatre for more than 50 years. This concert also brings together students from The Hartt School for a fantastic evening of Broadway magic.”

This concert is part of Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2015-16 POPS! Series, sponsored by United Technologies. Goodspeed Musicals is thankful to Travelers and Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, PC for its support as sponsors of this event.

Calendar Listing
HSO & Goodspeed Celebrate the Best of Broadway
Saturday, February 20, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
Michael O’Flaherty, conductor
Gizel Jiménez, Conor Ryan, Tony Sheldon and Laurie Wells, soloists

Ticket Information: Tickets range in price from $19-$66. Student tickets are $10 and $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at 860-987-5900 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.

VIP Event Tickets which include an exclusive pre-show reception with the soloists are available. Please call Mary Miko at 860.873-8664 ext. 368 to reserve. For information about the VIP event visit www.goodspeed.org.

ABOUT THE HARTFORD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Marking its 72nd Season in 2015-2016, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is Connecticut’s premier musical organization. The Hartford Symphony is the second largest orchestra in New England and is widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. We believe passionately in the performance of live symphonic music and its value in the community. To that end, the mission of the HSO is to perform live orchestral music of the highest quality for ever-expanding audiences and to increase, through its educational programs, the understanding and enjoyment of that music by residents of Connecticut. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra named Carolyn Kuan as its tenth music director in January 2011; she is the first woman and youngest person to hold this title. She began her tenure with the HSO in the fall of 2011. The HSO presents more than 100 concerts annually, including the Masterworks Series, POPS! Series, Sunday Serenades, Jazz & Strings, Lincoln Financial Discovery Concerts, Symphony in the Schools, Neighborhood Concerts, Musical Dialogues, Musical Connections, and more. In addition, the HSO presents the popular summer series, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival in Simsbury. The 2015-2016 POPS! Series is sponsored by United Technologies.

ABOUT GOODSPEED MUSICALS
Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development, and advancement of musical theatre. Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of United Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals, and official auto sponsor Hoffman Audi. Goodspeed is supported in part by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

ABOUT THE SOLOISTS:

GIZEL JIMÉNEZ is excited to be making her debut at the Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts!!

Gizel is a graduate of New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL receiving a BFA in Musical Theater.

She was recently seen as Princess Anna for Disney’s workshop of Frozen in Anaheim, CA. National Tour credit: West Side Story (Rosalia). TV/Film credits: Guest star role on Law & Order SVU “Presumed Guilty” (Angelica Rodriguez); Lead role in short film, The Tale of Timmy Two Chins (Jennifer). Off-Broadway Credit: Unseamly (Malina) at Urban Stages. Regional Theater credits: Up Here (Cool Girl) at La Jolla Playhouse. The Theory of Relativity at Goodspeed Musical’s The Norma Terris Theatre (Caroline); In the Heights at The Walnut Street Theater and Westchester Broadway Theater (Vanessa); and Smokey Joes Café at Capital Repertory Theater (The Shimmy Girl). Downtown credits: Rosario and the Gypsies at Theater for the New City (Mary). Other credits include: Paramount Theater Benefit (Carmen’s Habanera), Barclays Center (National Anthem), Will Spark’s music video for Ultra productions (Salsa Dancer) and a commercial with comedian Nick Kroll for Comedy Central and Funny or Die productions.

After graduation, Gizel was accepted into the American Theater Wings- Springboard NYC, where she had the pleasure of working with legendary greats such as, Seth Rudetsky, Kathleen Marshall, John Ruocco, David Caparelliotis, Susan Minser, Jodi Collins, Dani Super, and Stuart Gelles to name a few. She was also given the opportunity to sing alongside Tony Award-winner Alex Lacamoire.

Gizel’s next adventure will be taking on the role of Princess Anna at the Hyperion Theater in Anaheim, CA in March!

Gizel-Jimenez
ConorRyan(Aug2014)
CONOR RYAN is thrilled to be back in Connecticut after playing Jean-Michel in the Goodspeed Opera House’s production of La Cage Aux Folles. He starred opposite Kate Baldwin in the Off-Broadway revival of john and jen. Other credits include Broadway’s Cinderella, the Public Theatre’s production of The Fortress Of Solitude, and Second Stage’s production of Invisible Thread. Training: BFA University of Michigan, Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Many thanks to family and friends, Katie and Miguel, Becca and Laura, and CESD. Twitter: @conorrrryan, IG: chakaconor. Everything is for Mom.
TONY SHELDON played the role of Bernadette in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert for 1750 performances in Australia, New Zealand, London, Toronto and on Broadway, winning the Theatre World Award and nominations for the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award, the Drama League Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. He was also honored with his own caricature at Sardi’s. In London he was nominated for the Olivier Award and won the Toronto Theatre Critics Award and the DORA Award as Best Actor in a Musical. In Australia he won the Sydney Critics Award, the Green Room Award, the Glugs Award and the MO Award as Musical Theatre Performer of the Year.

In New York he has starred with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Tracey Ullman in The Bandwagon at Encores/City Center, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol with Douglas Sills, and Art & Science with John Tartaglia, and was featured in Broadway Backwards at the Palace Theatre and A Tribute To Audra McDonald for the Drama League. He has also appeared in cabaret at Jazz at Lincoln Center, 54 Below, Le Poisson Rouge, The Triad, the Metropolitan Room and the Laurie Beechman Theatre.

Regionally, Tony has appeared in Empire at la Mirada, Amelie at Berkeley Rep, Ever After at Paper Mill, Pickering in My Fair Lady at the Guthrie Theatre, Pellinore and Merlyn in Camelot at Kennedy Centre and Toddy in Victor / Victoria at Houston’s Theatre Under The Stars. He won the Connecticut Critics’ Circle Award for his performance as Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly! at the Goodspeed Opera House.

In Australia, Tony most recently starred in Man of La Mancha to enormous critical acclaim, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for which he won the 2014 Glugs Award as Best Actor in a Musical, Private Lives, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, Company, The Sisters Rosenweig, Once in a Lifetime, Falsettos (Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical). He played John Barrymore in I Hate Hamlet opposite Guy Pearce (Melbourne Theatre Company) and won the 2005 Helpmann Award, the Sydney Critics Award, the Mo Award and the Glugs Award for his performance as Roger de Bris in The Producers. He was also nominated for a Helpmann and a Green Room Award for his work in The Witches Of Eastwick. For his portrayal of Arnold Beckoff in Torch Song Trilogy, Tony won the Green Room and Variety Club Heart Awards as Best Actor of 1984. Other highlights include Noises Off, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Deathtrap, Dames at Sea, The Fantasticks, Candide, I Love My Wife, Travels With My Aunt, Wild Honey and The Glass Menagerie.

Tony-Sheldon
Wells_Laurie_hi-res-2014
LAURIE WELLS is a singer and actress who resides in New York City. Originally from Southern California, Laurie has been performing in the US and internationally for over 20 years. She performed in the National Tour and Broadway companies of Mamma Mia! as Donna Sheridan, and also toured the country with the Broadway hit Swing!. Off- Broadway/Select Regional: The Full Monty (Vicki at Maine State/Fulton); Women in Jeopardy (Liz at Geva Theatre, Cape Playhouse); The Addams Family (Alice at Ogunquit Playhouse); Sing For Your Shakespeare (Westport Country Playhouse); Always, Rachel (Rachel Carson at NYMF); Our Sinatra> (54Below); City of Angels (Bobbi/Gabby at Goodspeed Musicals); 42nd Street (Dorothy at Goodspeed and Riverside Theatre); Ragtime (Mother at Hangar Theatre); Pure Country (Harley at Casa Manana); Dames at Sea (Mona at Bay Street Theatre); I Got Merman (Stamford PAC). Laurie has had the pleasure of singing at the Grand Ole Opry, Orchard Hall in Tokyo, and on the high seas with her one-woman show on Princess Cruises. She can currently be seen starring in Trip of Love in NYC at Stage 42, a journey through the 60’s with song and dance. Visit www.lauriewells.net.