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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 6, 2012

Beyond the Ingénue features the music of the 'girl next door'

The University of Iowa School of Music will host a free performance of Beyond the Ingenue: Julie Andrews, Shirley Jones, Barbara Cook and Me, produced by the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, in the University Capitol Centre Recital Hall.

Featuring soprano Niffer Clarke and pianist/music director Richard Carsey Beyond the Ingenue was stage directed by Bill Theisen, who has been the guest director for several UI opera productions.

The production pays homage to the golden-voiced sopranos Niffer Clarke grew up idolizing, captures the essence of Julie Andrews, Shirley Jones, and Barbara Cook, who endowed the ingénue –- the "girl-next-door" –- with wit, spine, and spirit. As their careers progressed, they also reinvented themselves, and their journeys have inspired Clarke on her own voyage of self-discovery and revelation.

The music is augmented by entertaining stories, personal anecdotes, and impressions from both Clarke and Carsey. Clarke says it is a story "about giving ourselves permission to move beyond roles that are set for us, to break free of society's set expectations, and live in the truth of who we are rather than who we think we should be."

Andrews, Cook, and Jones were considered ingénues but it is their unconventional approach to their roles with which Clarke identifies.

The show includes "I Could Have Danced All Night", "I Have Confidence," "The Sweetest Sounds" and other well-known songs, along with the debut of "Beyond the Ingénue" written for Clarke by Tony-nominated Broadway composer Jeff Blumenkrantz.

Beyond the Ingénue began in 2009 as a CD project while Clarke was touring with the Hollywood Concert Orchestra's "A Night at the Oscars" featuring Shirley Jones. Clarke created a concert version of the CD for a performance in her hometown of Canton, Ohio, leading to the Skylight Opera's expanded version."

Clarke's Skylight credits include Marian in The Music Man, Daisy in Adding Machine, Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, Patience in Patience, and Anna Held in Tintypes. Her many other credits include Off-Broadway productions, regional theaters, Walt Disney Pictures' Meet the Robinsons, Angel of Death on the Discovery Channel, concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra, recordings.

Carsey is a conductor, arranger, pianist, and actor. He provided music coaching for the recent Broadway production of House of Blue Leaves starring Ben Stiller and Edie Falco, was music supervisor for Josh Schmidt's A Minister's Wife at Lincoln Center Theater and conducted the cast recording. In 2010 he was music director for the first national tour of the new musical Little House on the Prairie, starring Melissa Gilbert, and for eight seasons he was the artistic director of Skylight Opera Theatre.

The School of Music is an academic unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,