Join Broadway stars Mikaela Bennett (The Golden Apple), Alysha Umphress (On the Town), Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), and Ben Davis (Violet) in celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday! Tony Award winner Ted Sperling is Music Director and host for this evening of songs from Bernstein’s musicals, including West Side Story, Candide, Wonderful Town, Peter Pan, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and On the Town.
Ted Sperling, Music Director and Host
A recent graduate of The Juilliard School, soprano Mikaela Bennett made her debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in a concert version of Berstein’s West Side Story, and was featured in Bernstein on Broadway at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, directed by Katheleen Marshall and conducted by Rob Fisher. She made her professional stage debut last spring, starring as Penelope in John Latouche and Jerome Moross’ The Golden Apple for Encores! at City Center.
Ms. Bennett also performed with the San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, in the World Premiere of his Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. She has appeared at New York City cabaret venues Feinstein’s/54 Below and Joe’s Pub, working with Emmy Award-winning composer Lance Horne. She joined the New York Festival of Song for its Harry, Hoagy, and Harold program, curated and accompanied by Steven Blier and worked closely with composer William Bolcom for Opera America’s Composers in Concert: William Bolcom series. Mikaela Bennett is a native of Ottawa, Canada.
Alysha Umphress was seen on Broadway as part of the original Broadway cast of American Idiot and most recently as Hildy in the revival production of On The Town. Umphress was also part of the Broadway productions On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Bring it On!. Umphress’ Off-Broadway credits include Make Me a Song (The Music of William Finn).
Other credits include Dallas Theatre Center’s production of Hood (Meg), Paper Mill Playhouse’s Pump Boys And Dinettes (Rhetta Cupp), and Signature Theatre’s Beaches (Cee Cee Bloom) which earned her a Helen Hayes nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Umphress has also made appearences on television in The Climb (Misty), Law and Order SVU, Nurse Jackie, and Royal Pains.
Her solo album, I’ve Been Played; Alysha Umphress swings Jeff Blumenkrantz is currently available on iTunes and Amazon and she can also be heard on the recording of Wonderful Town singing the role of Ruth with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Most recently seen as Cpt. Von Trapp in Jack O’Brien’s tour of The Sound of Music. Broadway: Violet (Preacher), A Little Night Music (Mr. Lindquist, u/s Carl Magnus, Fredrik), Les Miserables (Javert & Enjolras), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon), Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme (Marcello- *2003 Tony Honor) UK: BBC Proms Kiss Me Kate at Royal Albert Hall (Fred/Petruchio) and Sondheim at 85 with RTÉ Orchestra. Other credits: South Pacific (Emile De Becque) and Oklahoma (Curly) at The MUNY, Anna Nicole the Opera at BAM (Billy Smith), R&H with the Boston Pops at Tanglewood, Lincoln Center American Songbook Series, Kurt Weill’s Knickerbocker Holiday (Brom Broeck) opposite Kelli O’Hara and Victor Garber, Westchester Philharmonic w/Kelli O’Hara, Show Boat (Gaylord Ravenal) at Goodspeed Opera House, LA Philharmonic. Film/TV: Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute directed by Kenneth Branagh and the upcoming film version of Samuel Barber’s, A Hand of Bridge.
An American stage and screen actor, Bryce is most widely known for originating the role of Monty Navarro in the Tony Award-winning production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, for which he was nominated for a Tony, Grammy, and Drama Desk Award. Most recently, he appeared in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles as Peter Patrone, for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. His other Broadway credits include Carl Bruner in Ghost the Musical and Henry Clay in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Bryce’s television appearances include The Good Wife (CBS), Person of Interest (CBS), and the PBS miniseries God in America. His upcoming on-screen appearances include Baz Lurman’s Netflix series The Get Down, Robert DeNiro’s The Comedian and the second season of PBS’ Civil War Drama Series Mercy Street.
A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Bryce was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Foundation Early Career Fellowship in 2012. As a writer, Bryce has published articles on acting, performing, and education in American Theater Magazine, Yale Alumni Magazine, and others. In 2012 Bryce helped found Zara Aina, an NGO that uses the power of theatrical storytelling to empower at-risk youth. In May 2013, Bryce led a team of American artists on Zara Aina’s pilot program to Madagascar. Bryce is also a frequent collaborator with Outside the Wire, a social impact theater company that serves many communities but particularly focuses on military audiences. His most notable international tours include Guantanamo Bay, Japan, Kuwait, and Qatar. Bryce holds a BA from Boston College and an MA from the Yale School of Drama.
Ted Sperling, Music Director and Host
Ted Sperling has maintained an active and successful career in the theater and concert worlds for over thirty years. A multi-faceted artist, he is a director, music director, conductor, orchestrator, singer, pianist, violinist, and violist. He is the Artistic Director of MasterVoices (formerly the Collegiate Chorale,) and Principal Conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic.
Mr. Sperling won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Other Broadway credits as music director/conductor/pianist include the rapturously received revivals of Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, and South Pacific; Guys and Dolls, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Angels in America, My Favorite Year, Falsettos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Les Misérables, Roza, and Sunday in the Park with George. Mr. Sperling was also an original cast member of the Broadway musical Titanic, playing bandleader Wallace Hartley. Off-Broadway credits as music director include A Man of No Importance, Wise Guys, A New Brain, Saturn Returns, Floyd Collins, Falsettoland, and Romance in Hard Times.
Mr. Sperling’s work as a stage director includes the world premieres of five musicals: Red Eye of Love, The Other Josh Cohen, See What I Wanna See, Charlotte: Life? Or Theater? and Striking 12, as well as a revival of Lady in the Dark. He has conducted the scores for the films The Manchurian Candidate and Everything Is Illuminated, and directed the short film, Love Mom, starring Tonya Pinkins, which has been shown in five international festivals. Recent gala concerts that Mr. Sperling has directed include: Show Boat, starring Vanessa Williams, Julian Ovenden, Lauren Worsham, Norm Lewis, and the NY Philharmonic: One Singular Sensation, featuring Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Zachary Quinto, and the original cast of A Chorus Line; The Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Jonathan Groff, Anika Noni Rose, Martin Short, and Eric Idle; Cabaret with Anne Hathaway, Harvey Feierstein, Linda Lavin, Raul Esparza, and Eddie Redmayne; Song of Norway with Judy Kaye, Santino Fontana, Jason Danieley, and Alexandra Silber; and The Mikado with Victoria Clark, Kelli O’Hara, Jonathan Freeman, Steve Rosen, Lauren Worsham, Jason Danieley, and Christopher Fitzgerald.
Mr. Sperling has an active concert career, working with many major symphony orchestras, and singers Audra McDonald, Victoria Clark, Patti LuPone, Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn, Idina Menzel, Paulo Szot, and Deborah Voigt. He has conducted multiple concerts with the New York Philharmonic, for Live at Lincoln Center, the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center, and the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y. Recent performances at Carnegie Hall include the NY premieres of Not the Messiah starring Eric Idle; Kurt Weill’s The Road of Promise starring Anthony Dean Griffey; and Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera, The Grapes of Wrath, starring Nathan Gunn, Elizabeth Futral, Christine Ebersole, and Victoria Clark. Mr. Sperling conducted Audra McDonald in a double bill of La Voix Humaine and the world premiere of Send: Who Are You? I Love You? at the Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Sperling’s television appearances include many Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts, as well as a Saturday Night Live Christmas show with Michael Bublé.
Mr. Sperling received the 2006 Ted Shen Family Foundation Award for leadership in the musical theater, is a consultant to the Public Theater, and is Creative Director of the 24-Hour Musicals.