MUSIC

Sinfonia Gulf Coast presents 'Get Happy: A Judy Garland Centennial Celebration'

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Sinfonia Gulf Coast welcomes back two Broadway stars — Morgan James and Nicholas Rodriguez — for Get Happy: A Judy Garland Centennial Celebration on Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center in Destin.

James replaces Jessica Vosk who was originally cast in the lead role.

Morgan James

Straight from Carnegie Hall, Get Happy celebrates the life and artistry of the legendary Judy Garland. Broadway’s Morgan James brings Garland’s unforgettable songbook back to life. You will feel as though you are seeing Judy Garland singing live with the orchestra. The exciting multimedia component showcases rare interviews and vintage footage of The Judy Garland Show with some never-before-seen outtakes featuring Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra that make an entertaining trip down memory lane.

This one-night-only celebration of an artist whose legacy continues to inspire fans around the world is a Southeast premier.

Judy Garland (1922-1969) was an American actress widely known for playing Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939). She attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage. Renowned for her versatility, she received an Academy Juvenile Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Special Tony Award. Garland was the first woman to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, which she won for her 1961 live recording titled Judy at Carnegie Hall.

“Who doesn't like a legend like Judy Garland?” asks Sinfonia Gulf Coast Music & Artistic Director Demetrius Fuller. “This is a great production because it showcases the string section of the orchestra and a jazz band along with superstar vocalist Morgan James with a bonus of Nicholas Rodriguez in a supporting role. You will feel as though you are seeing Judy Garland singing live with the orchestra.”

Morgan James is a Juilliard-trained singer, actress, songwriter, and recording artist in New York City. On Broadway, James was in five back-to-back original companies: The Addams Family (starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth), Wonderland, Godspell, and Motown: The Musical, and as a guest at Kristin Chenoweth’s For The Girls. She recently co-produced and starred in an all-female concept recording of Jesus Christ Superstar entitled She Is Risen. James independently released her studio albums of original soul music, entitled Memphis Magnetic, and A Very Magnetic Christmas. Other albums include Reckless Abandon, which prompted the Huffington Post to call James the "brightest breakout artist of the year.”

Nick Rodriguez

Nicholas Rodriguez has had an extensive career on Broadway (Tarzan), Off Broadway (The Toxic Avenger: The Musical, Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver, Death for Five Voices) film (Sex and the City 2). He recently toured the U.S. as Captain Georg Von Trapp in The Sound of Music and traveled the world on tours of Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus), Evita (Che), and Hair (Claude) among others. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in a one-night-only concert version of Guys and Dolls starring Nathan Lane, Megan Mullaly, and Len Cariou. His debut album, based on his one-man show of the same name, The First Time fuses Rodriguez's love of theater with the music of jazz, blues, folk, and pop.

Both performers have appeared live on stage in original solo performances to raise funds for Sinfonia Gulf Coast.

Tickets range from $30-$55 for adults. Active-duty military are from $20-$30 and student tickets are $15-$20. Premier preferred seats ($55 per person) at a table of 10 in a club-inspired dinner theater atmosphere. Preferred regular seating starts at $45 per person. Proceeds benefit Sinfonia Gulf Coast and its education and community engagement initiatives throughout Northwest Florida. Purchase tickets online at SinfoniaGulfCoast.org or by calling the box office at (850) 460-8800.

A special feature will be a lobby exhibit of artwork by local students who participated in the Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s Paint the Music education program in partnership with Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. Students listen to classical music selections and visually interpret what they hear. Later, they also will attend a play with symphonic music about the life of Ludwig Van Beethoven. Since it formed, Sinfonia Gulf Coast has reached more than 180,000 children through its music education outreach initiatives.

The 2022-2023 season is made possible by generous support from individuals, local businesses, and media partners. Presenting Concerts Sponsor is Hancock Whitney Bank. Classical Connections Presenting Sponsor is Silver Sands Premium Outlets. Presenting Media Sponsor is Visit South Walton. Presenting E-media Sponsor is Sowal.com. Presenting Discounted Military Tickets Sponsor is Eglin Federal Credit Union.

For information on volunteer opportunities, email Sinfonia at info@sinfoniagulfcoast.org or call (850) 460-8800.