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The Songwriter’s Orchestra ft. Cast Members from Broadway’s The Great Comet at (le) poisson rouge
Grace McLean, Brittain Ashford, Courtney Bassett, Gelsey Bell, Mary Knapp, Heathcliff Saunders & Cathryn Wake perform their original music with a 12-piece orchestra
6:30 pm doors | 7:30 pm show | 18+
Table Seating: $20 advance, $25 day of show | Standing Room: $15 advance, $20 day of show
More info: http://bit.ly/2tOiYMT
The Songwriter’s Orchestra returns to (le) poisson rouge for a special one night only event. The Songwriter’s Orchestra pairs singer/songwriters with a group of twelve orchestral musicians to present brand new musical arrangements of original songs. For this concert, they will be joined by six cast members of the hit Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Each of the performers from the show is also a songwriter, and will be sharing their original music in new arrangements for the songwriters orchestra. The Songwriter’s Orchestra has performed at (le) poisson rouge, 54 Below, The Laurie Beechman Theatre, Landmark on Main Street, Miller Theatre, Imani Winds Chamber Festival, Usdan Camp for the Performing Arts, and The Dolphin Café. This performance will feature Grace McLean, Brittain Ashford, Courtney Bassett, Gelsey Bell, Mary Knapp, Heathcliff Saunders & Cathryn Wake. Musicians: Jordan Lee (violin), Kevin Kuh (violin), Elise Frawley (viola), Vivian Ludford (cello), Coreisa Lee (flute), Patricia Billings (clarinet), Blair Shepperd (bassoon), Evan Honse (trumpet), Elizabeth Fleming (horn), Becca Patterson (trombone), Marty Jaffe (bass), Ashley Baier (percussion) & Solomon Hoffman (arranger/conductor)
Called “electrifying” by The Huffington Post and “phenomenal” by the New York Times, Grace McLean is a multi-hyphenate actress-singer-writer-teacher on the rise. In addition to performing (Broadway: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812; Off-Broadway: Brooklynite, Bedbugs!!!, Sleep No More) Grace also makes time for her acclaimed original music with her band Grace McLean & Them Apples. The band performed in both the 2015 and 2016 Lincoln Center American Songbook series, and in April 2015, they toured Pakistan with the US State Department. Grace’s pop opera about 12th century mystic Hildegard von Bingen has been developed at CAP21, SPACE on Ryder Farm, the Johnny Mercer Writer’s Colony at Goodspeed, and The Orchard Project and has been commissioned by LCT3. Grace is the recipient of the 2017 Hunt Family Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center.
Brittain Ashford made her Broadway debut playing the role of Sonya in The Great Comet. She began her musical endeavors at the age of six, multi-tracking Simon and Garfunkel’s “59th Street Bridge Song” between a Fisher Price boom box and her father’s dictaphone. Since then she’s appeared in Dave Malloy’sGhost Quartet and fronts her own band, Prairie Empire. Brittain originated the role of Sonya at Arts Nova and received a Lorten nomination for her performance during the Off-Broadway Kazino run.
Courtney Bassett is a singer, an actress, a songwriter, a dancer, and a musician. Current: “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, playing at the Imperial Theatre. Courtney writes and plays with indie pop band, Starbird and the Phoenix. Starbird and the Phoenix features Courtney alongside ukulele magician and male rock soprano Andrew Swackhamer. Some performance highlights: singing the “Somewhere” solo for New York City Ballet’s ‘West Side Story Suite’, dancing for Prada at NYC Fashion Week, playing a rock belting insect in Off Broadway smash “Bedbugs”, and creating original music for science/art collaborative Superhero Clubhouse.
Gelsey Bell is a New York City-based singer, songwriter, and scholar. Her performance creations have been presented internationally. She has released multiple albums and is a 2017 recipient of the prestigious Foundation for Contemporary Arts Music/Sound grant. Her works include Bathroom Songs, Scaling, Our Defensive Measurements, This Takes Place Close By (with thingNY), Prisoner’s Song (with Erik Ruin), and the acclaimed adaptation of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (with Varispeed). Other performance highlights include Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (on Broadway) and Ghost Quartet, Robert Ashley’s Crash, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s River of Fundament, and Gregory Whitehead’s On the Shore Dimly Seen. She has a PhD in performance studies and is the Critical Acts Co-editor for TDR/The Drama Review and the Reviews Editor for The Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies.
Currently making her Broadway debut in The Great Comet, Mary Spencer Knapp is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and founder of cabaret soul project Toot Sweet. She has released two albums of original music via Brooklyn experimental studio Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen and been a regular in downtown Manhattan and the borough’s DIY gig circuit since her band’s inception 4 years ago. Mary also toured South America as accordionist with Irka Mateo Y La Tirindanga and was a featured vocalist on FX’s Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll season 2 and Steve Buscemi’s Park Bench series on AOL.
Heath Saunders is a young composer, actor, and multi-instrumentalist who spends his free time writing musicals you haven’t heard of yet. As a singer-songwriter, his self-produced tracks blend electronic grooves with a modern theatrical lyric sensibility — plus a dash of fast paced rap for good measure. As a composer and lyricist, his musical Newton’s Cradle garnered him the awards for Best Lyrics and Best Musical in NYMF 2016. As an actor, you can see him in The Great Comet on Broadway, playing guitar and understudying Pierre and Balaga. Heath grew up outside Seattle, Washington, and spent his early years developing his unique pop aesthetic performing with his four siblings, all singers, musicians, and actors.
Cathryn Wake is an actor, singer, and multi-instrumentalist currently appearing in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway. Shortly after graduating college, she stepped into the white shoes as Luisa during The Fantasticks‘ 57-year-long run Off-Broadway. Regional theater appearances include Paper Mill Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, New Jersey Repertory Theater, and CATF, with TV spots on Glee, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Featured Vocalist), and America’s Got Talent. Her band, For You The Moon, is an indie pop collaboration with musician/producer Neil Reynolds (Aeralyn, Ashes of Atrocity) that fuses synths, acoustic instruments, and electronic beats. Their second EP will be released in October.
Solomon Hoffman (arranger/conductor) is a NYC based composer, orchestrator and arranger. His orchestrations have been featured in concerts and productions at 54 Below, Ars Nova, Dixon Place, Don’t Tell Mama, FringeNYC, Juilliard Drama, (le) poisson rouge, Lincoln Center and SubCulture. He is the founder and conductor of The Songwriter’s Orchestra, an innovative 12-piece chamber orchestra that collaborates with singer/songwriters from a variety of backgrounds to present new arrangements of their music. The ensemble recently presented a concert in support of criminal justice reform that wove together narratives of previously incarcerated people with original songs inspired by their stories. Solomon has also been involved in the creation of works to advance social justice causes through collaborations with the Broadway Advocacy Coalition. Solomon graduated from Columbia University, where he composed the student-written Varsity Show twice and conducted and orchestrated the show for four years. For the past three years he has been an educator and artist-in-residence at the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore.
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