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CJO takes on Broadway with Debbie Gravitte, March 14-17

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by Mark Subel on February 25, 2013

The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) returns to the historic Southern Theatre in a night of Broadway magic as the Columbus Jazz Orchestra puts a jazzy twist on your favorite classic show tunes. Tony Award-winning vocalist Debbie Gravitte joins the CJO on this trip down the great white way, March 14 – 17, in “Big Band on Broadway.”

Debbie Gravitte has had a varied career that has taken her from Broadway to Symphony Hall stages and all points in between. She won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Jerome Robbin’s Broadway, along with a Drama Desk Award Nomination and New York Showstopper Award for the same role. After making her Broadway debut in the original cast of They’re Playing Our Song, she went on to appear in Perfectly Frank (Drama Desk Award Nomination), Blues In The Night, Ain’t Broadway Grand, Zorba, Chicago, and Les Miserables. Debbie has appeared in the Encore’s series productions of The Boys from Syracuse, Tenderloin, and Carnival at New York’s City Center.

Debbie has performed her nightclub act worldwide, from New York City’s Rainbow and Stars to London’s Pizza on the Park, and back home again to Atlantic City, where she had the honor to perform with notable talents such as Jay Leno, Harry Anderson, and the legendary George Burns. Debbie has sung with numerous orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra with Marvin Hamlish, Boston Pops, Cleveland Orchestra, and others. Overseas, she has sung with the London Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm and Munich philharmonic orchestras, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and others.

On television, Debbie co-starred on the CBS series Trial and Error and NBC’s Pursuit of Happiness, and starred in several specials for PBS, including “Live from the Kennedy Center,” “Boston Pops Celebrate Bernstein,” “Rodgers & Hart for Great Performances,” and “Ira Gershwin’s 100th Birthday Celebration” from London’s Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall.

Under the direction of Mark Donavan, the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) provides opportunities for talented high school age musicians to further their experience in America’s classical music – jazz. Comprised of premier players in grades 9-12 from central Ohio and beyond, the CYJO has a 30-week season during the school year, and performs at the Southern Theatre prior to each of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra’s Sunday matinee concerts. The CYJO plays literature of the highest level with repertoire from the libraries of the great big bands, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Oliver Nelson, Benny Goodman and Dizzy Gillespie. Admission to the CYJO performance at 2 PM is included with each 3 PM Sunday matinee ticket purchase.

Single tickets are on sale for $52 (main floor), $46 (first balcony) and $30 (second balcony) and available through the CAPA Ticket Office at 614-469-0939 and through all Ticketmaster outlets. Student tickets are available for $15 (over 18) and $10 (under 18) with valid ID at the door. For more information call 614-294-5200 or visit www.jazzartsgroup.org.

Audience members can also join Byron Stripling for a casual and engaging conversation with Debbie Gravitte and the wonderful guest artists of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra in a new workshop series at the Jazz Academy. “Offstage at the Jazz Academy” provides participants a behind-the-scenes glimpse from the artist perspective on performing with the CJO – adding new perspective to being an audience member. In addition to the opportunity to learn something new, each guest artist will be asked to share what they are currently listening to on their iPods or CD players, introducing audiences to new and exciting music and artists. “Offstage at the Jazz Academy” is free to CJO subscribers and $10 for general registrants. Pre-registration is requested and available at www.jazzartsgroup.org.

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