The last time I saw Ron Raines, we were having lunch with fellow opera singer Roberta Peters at Amici Restaurant prior to a rehearsal of the Opera Pacific production of “The Merry Widow.”
That was in 1994. Since then, Amici and Opera Pacific have closed their doors, but Raines is still going strong. The multi-talented singer and actor is in town as one of six singers performing in “Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert,” Jan. 20 and 21 in the Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center.
Some people may not recognize Herman’s name, but the musicals he wrote are legendary, including “Mame,” “Mack and Mabel,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “La Cage Aux Folles.”
In addition to Raines, the performers for this tribute show include Karen Morrow, Debbie Gravitte, Scott Coulter, John Boswell, and Jason Graae. They’ll be performing songs from Herman’s many shows, and telling stories about the songs, and Herman.
A Tony Award nominee for the acclaimed production of “Follies,” Raines has had an illustrious international career spanning musical theater, opera, concert and television. He starred on Broadway in “Annie,” “Newsies,” “Chicago” and “Snow Boat,” and has performed around the world in musicals, operas, and in concert with symphony orchestras.
“I started in the opera business, made the transition to Broadway, then soap operas came in and I started taking left turns and u-turns,” said Raines during a recent phone interview. “I’ve had a very unorthodox career.”
It may be unorthodox, but it’s certainly been fun, said Raines, especially performing Jerry Herman’s music with his fellow vocalists.
“I sing ‘I Won’t Send Roses,’ from ‘Mack and Mable,’ which Jerry has been quoted as saying it’s his favorite score,” said Raines. “It really is an incredible score. The reason Jerry Herman is so great, he captures the essence of the story in his music and it doesn’t sound the same in every show.”
“We also tell a lot of back stories, which are wonderful,” explained Raines. “I tell a story about ‘I Won’t Send Roses.’ The audiences love the stories.”
And audiences will love “Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert,” at the Samueli Theater, which will be configured with cabaret-style seating. Single tickets are $79 and available online at SCFTA.org, or by calling (714) 556-2787.