Press enter after choosing selection

A legit soprano, a belter and a U-M grad

A legit soprano, a belter and a U-M grad image A legit soprano, a belter and a U-M grad image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

A legit soprano, a belter and a U-M grad

'Bravo Broadway' features'Phantom' Doug LaBrecque


News Arts Writer

Doug LaBrecque may have graduated from the University of Michigan in 1988, moved to New York and starred in Broadway blockbusters such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” but it’s clear he left a little piece of his heart in Ann Arbor.

“I have a lot of emotional memories of Ann Arbor that are deeply rooted and with me forever,” said LaBrecque, an alum of the U-M Musical Theater Department.

“(The program) has really grown into something of world renown and I was one of the first grads. I feel like I am a part of something... I was right there at the beginning.”

LaBrecque makes up a third of the trio Bravo Broadway, playing at Power Center Saturday night as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

LaBrecque, Debbie Gravitte (“Jerome Robbins Broadway”) and Christiane Noll (“Jekyll & Hyde”), will perform songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber and more. Backed by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the evening of Broadway show tunes will feature music from “Gypsy,” “West Side Story,” “Cats,” “Les Miserables,” “Show Boat” and other favorites.

“It will be a potpourri, with more of an emphasis on contemporary Broadway stuff,” the New York-based LaBrecque said by phone from his summer home near Kalamazoo. “There’ll be stuff from a lot of musicals that have been either revived or are currently running on Broadway.”

Bravo Broadway started in 1994 with a trio of classical singers who wanted Broadway experience, LaBrecque explained, and quickly became very popular. So popular, in fact, that its management sought out people with Broadway credentials, with the intention of taking the show on the road, teaming the singers with local orchestras.



'Bravo Broadway'

Who: Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

What: U-M alum Doug LaBrecque, plus Debbie Gravitte and Christiane Noll, perform the bestloved songs of Broadway, backed by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. Where: Power Center, 121 Fletcher St.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday. How much: $24-$48. Details:; 734-764-2538.

U-M degree special, grad says

"Now it's me and two women, usually a legit soprano and a belter. Debbie is the belter, Christiane is the legit soprano, although she can be a belter as well." About a dozen other performers are also on call, in case one of the three principals can't make a show.

Besides "Phantom," LaBrecque starred on Broadway in Harold Prince's revival of "Show Boat."

He was featured on Oscar Hammerstein's 100th birthday celebration and has toured nationally with "Les Miserables" and regionally with productions such as "The Man of La Mancha," "Candide" and others.

He has also appeared in pops concerts in America and abroad with such ensembles as the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symhony (at the Ravinia Festical), the Israeli Philharmonic and Jerusalem Philharmonic, Washington D.C.'s National Symphony, the Houston Symphony and the San Francisco Orchestra.

He had nothing but praise for Gravitte and Noll.

"Debbie won a Tony award for 'Jerome Robbins' Broadway' as best featured actress in a musical. She's hugely talented." he said. "She's been in eight Broadway shows, including 'Chicago' last year. She's a great singer, known for her great voice and her wonderful personality, kind of saucy, sassy, a really talented belter."

Noll, he added, benefited from her parents' involvement in the world of operettas, particularly Gilbert and Sullivan. "She's steeped in that tradition - she's almost a lyric coloratura who can belt, which is kind of rare. ...She's much in demand, she's been in four Broadway shows and she was the voice of Anna in the animated verson of 'The Kind and I.'

"The three of us get a chance to work together a lot. We're doing a concert tour this summer, 'Andrew Lloyd Webber and Friends,'" he said. 

LaBrecque last performed in Ann Arbor as part of a February 2004 musical salute honoring local arts angel Judy Dow Tumelhard. He has also remained as involved as he can with his alma mater. He was back in town a few months ago to work with musical theater students, and makes it a point to be available for newcomers seeking words of wisdom. 

"There have been a lot of students who have called me and wanted career advice ... I have gone to some of their performances, some of their club acts (in New York City)."

He said a degree in musical theater from the U-M is something special.

"People see U-M on your resume and gets you extra attention ... It means something," he said.

Roger LeLievre can be reached at (734) 994-6848 or by email at