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Broadway performers join mentor team for upcoming Songbook Academy

Great American Songbook Foundation’s annual music intensive runs July 21-

Post Date:07/17/2018 8:30 AM




News Release

Date:             July 16, 2018


Broadway performers join mentor team

for upcoming Songbook Academy

Great American Songbook Foundation’s annual music intensive runs July 21-28



Performers from Broadway’s Hamilton, Mean Girls and Carousel will be among the professional mentors for the Great American Songbook Foundation’s 2018 Songbook Academy®, the nation’s only summer youth music intensive focused on the timeless standards of jazz, pop, Broadway and Hollywood.

A select group of 40 top high school-age vocalists from 19 states coast to coast will participate in the weeklong Academy, taking place July 21-28 at the Foundation’s home, the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Foundation founder and five-time Grammy® Award nominee Michael Feinstein will provide one-on-one instruction to the participants and serve as emcee of the July 28 Songbook Academy Finals concert, where one rising talent will be named Songbook Youth Ambassador for the coming year, performing at some of nation’s most prestigious venues.

Joining Feinstein as mentors leading the workshops, masterclasses and discussions throughout the week will be:

Alexander GemignaniAlexander Gemignani, a 2018 Tony Award nominee for his current role as Enoch Snow in the Broadway revival of Carousel;

Fergie L. Philippe

Fergie L. Philippe, now appearing as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the national tour of Hamilton: An American Musical;

  • Becca PetersenBecca Petersen, a Carmel High School graduate currently appearing in Mean Girls on Broadway;

  • Mary Lane Haskell, a stage and television actress and singer who serves on the faculty at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles;

  • Nat Zegree, a New York-based pianist, composer, music director, actor and son of the late Indiana University music Professor Stephen Zegree

  • Marc Cherry, creator of ABC’s Desperate Housewives and writer and producer on several other TV series;

  • Sylvia McNair, two-time Grammy-winning star of opera, oratorio, cabaret and musical theater.


See below for detailed bios of the mentors.

Events open to the public during Songbook Academy include:

Public Masterclass – 2-5 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, The Palladium

Ten randomly selected participants undergo critiques from Michael Feinstein and guest mentors. Admission FREE, tickets required.

Songbook Showcase – 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2-4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, The Palladium

All 40 national finalists perform solo, with 10 chosen to compete in the Saturday finals. Admission FREE, tickets required.

Songbook Academy Finals – 7 p.m. Saturday, July 28, The Palladium

Michael Feinstein hosts as all 40 singers perform, and the Top 10 compete for awards before a panel of judges. Tickets start at $25.

Tickets for the Finals concert are available by phone at (317) 843-3800, online at and in person at the Palladium Box Office, 1 Center Green, Carmel. Tickets to the free events may be reserved by phone but must be claimed in person at the Box Office.

The Songbook Academy is sponsored nationally by the Efroymson Family Fund. The Public Masterclass and Songbook Showcase are sponsored by Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The Finals concert is presented by the Center for the Performing Arts and sponsored by Salon 01, Aquage haircare products and Current Publishing LLC.

About the Great American Songbook Foundation
The mission of the Great American Songbook Foundation, founded in 2007 by five-time Grammy® Award nominee Michael Feinstein, is to inspire and educate by celebrating the Great American Songbook – the timeless standards of pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood. Headquartered at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana, the Foundation advances this rich legacy by curating physical artifacts of its creators, performers and publishers; operating a multimedia exhibit gallery; overseeing the Songbook Hall of Fame; offering programs for the public and research opportunities for scholars and artists; and providing educational opportunities for student musicians, including the annual Songbook Academy® summer intensive. The Foundation is a Cultural Affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum®. More information is available at



Marc Cherry

Marc Cherry was creator and showrunner of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, a groundbreaking series that instantly became a ratings powerhouse and developed a worldwide fan base, continuing for eight seasons. The show claimed over 100 award nominations, winning seven Emmys, three Golden Globes and numerous other honors. Cherry’s writing and producing credits include another television classic, The Golden Girls, and its sequel, The Golden Palace. He also created and was showrunner for Lifetime’s Devious Maids, and is currently developing for Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine TV Studios.

Alexander Gemignani

Alexander Gemignani is an actor, composer/lyricist, musical director, orchestrator, educator and artistic director. Broadway appearances earning numerous Tony, Drama Desk, Theatre World and Outer Critics Circle nominations and awards: Currently Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (Enoch Snow), Violet (Father), Chicago (Billy), Les Misérables (Valjean), Sweeney Todd (Beadle), Assassins (Hinckley), The People In The Picture (Moishe), Sunday in the Park With George (Boatman/Dennis). A few of many off-Broadway and regional credits include Avenue Q (Brian) and Hamilton in Chicago (King George III, original cast), and his concert appearances range from The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall to the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center.

Mary Lane Haskell

Mary Lane Haskell was raised in Los Angeles, where she began singing and dancing at the age of 3.  After graduating with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she worked as a resident singer in venues around New York City, including Feinstein’s/54 Below and The Town Hall. A few highlight achievements include her solo debut at Carnegie Hall at only 18 years old alongside mentor Michael Feinstein and Elaine Stritch, and being named one of 2011’s “Broadway's Rising Stars.” Theater credits include The King and I (Anna), Hello, Dolly! (Irene Malloy), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Cindy Lou), Hamlet (Ophelia), Twelfth Night (Olivia). Television credits include Law and Order: SVU, Scandal, and playing Dolly Parton’s school teacher Miss Moody in NBC’s Coat of Many Colors and the Emmy-nominated sequel Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love. She is a faculty member at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles and serves on the Board of Directors of the Great American Songbook Foundation.

Sylvia McNair

Two-time Grammy Award winner Sylvia McNair boasts a stellar three-decade career in opera, oratorio, cabaret and musical theater. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room, from the Ravinia Festival to The Plaza, from the pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to The Times of London and the cover of Cabaret Scenes. Having appeared as a soloist with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world, McNair has focused more recently on cabaret performing and the music of Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim and Bernstein.

Becca Petersen

After graduating from Carmel High School in 2010, Becca moved out west to earn a BFA in musical theatre from Brigham Young University. After graduating, she followed her lifelong dream of moving to New York City. Since then, Becca has toured the country with the first national tour of Newsies, originated a track in the Broadway-bound musical The Prom, and made her Broadway debut as Laura Osnes’ understudy in the Tony-winning musical Bandstand. She is currently a swing, assistant dance captain and understudy of Regina George and Cady Heron in the new Broadway hit Mean Girls.

Fergie L. Philippe

Fergie L. Philippe (Ferginho Philippe Auguste) currently appears as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in Hamilton: An American Musical. He attended Elon University. Other credits include Jesus Christ Superstar at The MUNY in St. Louis, Orsino in Twelfth Night at the Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Flick in Violet at Heritage Theatre Festival and Jim Conley in Parade at Merry Go Round Playhouse.

Nat Zegree

Nat Zegree has been playing piano since he was 3 years old. Classically trained, he was raised in the world of jazz and the Great American Songbook. Nat has composed three original musicals, with more in development, released an album, and travels the country performing an award-winning portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis in the hit musical Million Dollar Quartet. He also worked and recorded for the Tony-winning smash hit Dear Evan Hansen. He music directs and performs for such New York City venues as Feinstein’s/54 Below, Joe’s Pub, Laurie Beechman Theatre and Green Room 42. His musical Fly More Than You Fall, a title shared with his album, was produced at Syracuse University this spring.



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