Concert preview: Perfectly Frank: Pop goes Broadway with 'Wildhorn & Friends' at BYU Bravo! series

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1 2013 4:35 p.m. MDT

And soloists adore his compositions. “This Is the Moment,” the strongest of the songs from “Jekyll & Hyde,” has been recorded 1,000 times by everyone from Johnny Mathis to Dennis DeYoung of Styx and was performed by Jennifer Holliday at Bill Clinton’s inauguration and at the 1994 and 1996 Olympics. Julie Andrews personally called Wildhorn and asked him to write songs for the Broadway adaptation of “Victor/Victoria” after Henry Mancini’s death.

“Somewhere along the way the word ‘pop’ became a bad word when it came to theater,” he says. “When pop music or rock music became the music of the youth of America, every other medium embraced that music except for theater. Of course, there’s always the exception. Once in decade, there’s a ‘Hair,’ but Broadway has generally rejected that music.”

Wildhorn fans, on the other hand, are so legion that they have formed cliques: “Jekyll & Hyde” enthusiasts call themselves Jekkies, the “Scarlet Pimpernel” community is The League and “The Civil War” fans are TCWFans. There are a number websites devoted to his individual works and followers proudly count the number of times they have seen a production, with many numbering well into the hundreds.

“I’m very lucky and grateful,” he says of his following. “When you work so hard for each show, putting your heart and soul into the show while you’re doing it and you have wonderful memories of that show, it’s great to have the shows so widely admired.

“The fact that I’ve been able to have this career of doing theater all around the world and writing songs for such great singers, when I started as a self-taught musician, playing the piano for a living — I don’t know how it happened, but it did.”

If you go

What: Bravo! Performing Arts’ “Frank Wildhorn & Friends”

Where: BYU Harris Fine Arts Center deJong Concert Hall

When: Oct. 3

How much: $10-$20

Tickets: byuarts.com or 801-422-4678

Frank Wildhorn’s “Friends” at BYU concert

The “& Friends” soloists composer Frank Wildhorn will be performing with at BYU’s Bravo! Performing Arts series are:

Jackie Burns launched the first national tour of “Wicked” as Elphaba and then performed this lead role on Broadway. She was in the original casts of the “Hair” Broadway revival and “Rock of Ages.” Burns can also be seen singing parts of “Defying Gravity” for the “Wicked Ultimate Encore 2011.” She received the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for "A Grand Night for Singing."

Darren Ritchie holds the distinction of originating two Broadway roles in Wildhorn musicals: Jonathan Harker in “Dracula” and White Knight/Jack in “Wonderland,” after first playing the part in its Florida world première. Other Broadway credits include “The Little Shop of Horrors” as Orin Scrivello, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” ensemble/Jimmy Smith understudy and his Broadway début as Babet in “Les Misérables.”

Adrienne Warren made her Broadway début as Danielle in “Bring It On” and appeared opposite Ashanti and LaChanze in the Encores’ production of “The Wiz” and was in the tour cast of “Dreamgirls.” She has been the lead singer for Trans Siberian Orchestra and The Dream Machine and plays the role of Dina in the TV series “Orange Is the New Black.”

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