Most people know Jason Alexander best as Jerry Seinfeld’s sidekick George Costanza on the award-winning NBC sitcom “Seinfeld.” But Alexander got his start on stage, and even won a Tony Award for his role in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.”
After “Seinfeld,” he went back to musicals and Broadway tunes. He opens the Boston Pops’ upcoming summer season with the program of song, dance and (of course) comedy that he’ll bring to the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall on September 27. That concert will open the Louisville Orchestra’s 2014-15 Pops season, a slate of six shows that feature several heavy-hitting alumni of the Great White Way.
Pops principal conductor Bob Bernhardt says Alexander’s show will surprise fans who aren’t used to seeing the sidekick in a leading man role.
“His show is so much fun, and I’m really thrilled not only to work with him, but for the audience to see what a remarkably versatile actor and entertainer he is,” says Bernhardt. “You can expect to laugh a lot, you can expect incredible energy, you can expect a really terrific dancer.”
That’s right, George can dance.
“It’s a coup, because I never thought he’d start working with regional orchestras, so I’m thrilled,” Bernhardt adds.
Alexander’s not the only pop culture cross-over star to appear in the upcoming Pops season. Broadway star Matthew Morrison, known to many for his role as Will Shuester on Fox TV’s “Glee,” will headline the November 15 concert. Morrison has played many roles on Broadway, where he originated the role of Link Larkin in “Hairspray” and played Lt. Cable in the Lincoln Center’s Tony Award-nominated revival of “South Pacific.”
The Midtown Men, a vocal quartet made up of the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys,” will sing popular Sixties pop hits January 17, 2015.
“That’s my music,” Bernhardt says with a laugh. “The Beatles were my lightning strike of rock and roll, but just before that, it was the amazing, unbelievable voice of Frankie Valli that really hit me. It’s fabulous charts, great arrangements.”
So Bernhardt and other Beatles fanatics will get their fix on April 11, 2015, with “Live and Let Die: The Music of Paul McCartney,” featuring Beatlemania and Classical Mystery Tour veteran Tony Kishman on vocals. The concert will include McCartney’s iconic Beatles songs like “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yesterday” as well as later solo and Wings work.
“Lennon and McCartney were first and foremost brilliant songwriters,” he says. “Their songs, especially McCartney’s which are sometimes on the sweeter edge of things, they work beautifully with string back-up. You go from there and you can add a lot of edge to the songs based upon the need.”
“McCartney, in particular, when he started going solo, like ‘Live and Let Die,’ that is a symphonic song, it was conceived symphonically,” adds Bernhardt.
The season also includes “Satchmo: a Tribute to Louis Armstrong” featuring Byron Stripling on trumpet (October 18, 2014) and “Symphonic Swing with Five by Design,” an evening of Big Band music. The Louisville Orchestra’s other flagship series, their Classics program, will be announced later this year.
The orchestra recently performed to a sell-out house with legendary film score composer John Williams conducting. Bernhardt says he can’t remember a more hopeful period in his tenure at the orchestra.
“The orchestra is playing so wonderfully, and we’re on this beautiful rising slope, both musically and emotionally, and we hope that all of our friends and fans in Louisville will come along for the ride,” he says.
“We need them now more than ever.”