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Applause! Applause!

Christine Ebersole and other stars to sing the praises of composer Charles Strouse June 25

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June 3, 2011 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Fans will be applauding in praise of multiple Tony-Award winning Broadway artist Charles Strouse  -- one of America’s most successful musical theatre composers -- during a one-night-only gala tribute to the man who penned the scores for more than 30 stage musicals, including “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Annie” and “Applause.”

Strouse will be honored by The Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25, during a program titled “Applause! Applause! A Celebration of Charles Strouse” that will be held at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

Tony-Award winning Broadway performer and North Shore native Christine Ebersole (“Grey Gardens,” “42nd Street”) will be headlining the event. Award-winning guest artists Craig Carnelia, Marcy Heisler and Lari White, as well as Strouse himself, will join Ebersole on stage.

Open to the public, the musical toast is the closing event of the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project presented by The Johnny Mercer Foundation and the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. Strouse is being honored with the Johnny Mercer Artist of Distinction Award for his mentorship of young songwriters in the tradition of the late legendary composer.

The star-studded evening will celebrate Strouse’s work and will feature Ebersole’s solo performance of some of Strouse’s landmark songs. Carnelia, Heisler and White -- all Mercer Project master teachers -- will combine their talents for a medley of Mercer favorites and Northwestern students will present an a capella arrangement of a Strouse classic. Strouse will perform some of his own work, sing a duet with Ebersole and talk about his Broadway career. Additionally, participants of this year’s Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project will present some of their newest songs.

CHARLES STROUSE

During his long and productive career, Strouse wrote the tunes “Put on a Happy Face,” “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” and “We Love You Conrad” for “Bye Bye Birdie.” His song “Tomorrow” from “Annie” is another of his timeless hits. Strouse is best known to television audiences for his song “Those Were The Days” that introduced more than 200 episodes of “All In The Family,” the weekly comedy that starred Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton. Strouse, who turns 83 on June 7, continues to do what he loves and does best -- write music -- and has no intention of retiring from show business. For more on Strouse, visit www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/bio/C21.

CHRISTINE EBERSOLE

Ebersole has appeared on the Broadway stage, television, movies, concerts and recordings. She has earned numerous awards, including her second Tony for “Leading Actress in a Musical,” for her dual “role of a lifetime” as Edith Beale and Little Edie Beale in “Grey Gardens.” She also has appeared in “Steel Magnolias,” “On the Twentieth Century,” “Oklahoma,” “Dinner at Eight” (which garnered a Tony nomination), “The Best Man” and “Blithe Spirit.” For more on Ebersole, visit www.christineebersole.com.

CRAIG CARNELIA

Carnelia is one of today’s most popular Broadway and cabaret singers and songwriters. His works have won many songwriting awards and have been performed by Barry Manilow, Andrea Marcovicci and others. He received a Tony nomination for the four songs he contributed to Studs Terkel’s “Working.” For more on Carnelia, visit www.musicalschwartz.com/recordings/carnelia.htm.

MARCY HEISLER

Heisler is a musical theatre writer, lyricist and performer. As a lyricist she has contributed songs for many Disney projects, including “Johnny and The Sprites,” Pooh’s Learning Adventures, and “The D Show.” As an adaptor, she wrote new versions of “101 Dalmatians,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Jungle Book” for Disney Theatricals. She has collaborated with composer Zina Goldrich since 1993, and the duo are past recipients of ASCAP’s Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award. For more on Heisler, visit www.marcyandzina.com.

LARI WHITE

White’s multi-faceted career as a Gold and triple Grammy Award-winning recording artist, hit songwriter and producer, independent record label owner, and versatile actress has earned her the title of Nashville's "Renaissance Woman." She works out of her Nashville recording studio, collaborating with a variety of artists. As the first female producer of a male superstar, she recently made music history by producing Toby Keith's platinum album "White Trash with Money." She also has written songs for Tammy Wynette, Lonestar, and most recently, Danny Gokey, Pat Green and Sarah Buxton. For more on White, visit www.lariwhite.com.

THE JOHNNY MERCER FOUNDATION

The Johnny Mercer Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving and celebrating the work of Johnny Mercer and other great American songwriters, and to introducing their music to a new generation of listeners through educational programs.

The foundation also supports charitable organizations through royalties from Mercer’s songs. To learn more, visit http://johnnymercerfoundation.com/intro.html.

THE AMERICAN MUSIC THEATRE PROJECT

The goal of the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University is to nourish and invigorate American music theatre by developing and producing new musicals by music theatre’s leading artists; increasing opportunities for education and training with Northwestern’s theatre, dance and opera programs; and creating new connections between the professional and academic communities. To learn more about AMTP, visit www.amtp.northwestern.edu.

Single tickets for “Applause! Applause! A Celebration of Charles Strouse” are $40. To order, phone (847) 491-7282 or visit www.tic.northwestern.edu.