By M. Scott Morris
OXFORD – Fans of Broadway and movie musicals might have a hard time picking a favorite song at the University of Mississippi Ford Center on April 12.
“I think song after song the audience members will find themselves saying, ‘Oh, this is my favorite,’ then the next one will come and they’ll say, ‘Oh, no, no, no. This one is my favorite,’” said Mary Donnelly Haskell, an Ole Miss alumna and singer who’s performed at the White House and The Kennedy Center.
She’s invited some of her talented friends to Oxford for “Sounds of Stage and Screen.” The night will feature film, television and Broadway star Marilu Henner, as well as Mary Lane Haskell, Guy Hovis and the Buford Family.
Henner’s Broadway history includes “Chicago,” “Grease” and “Annie Get Your Gun.” She’ll pull from the last one for “Doing What Comes Naturally,” which she’ll sing with Oxford children.
“I’m also going to do a duet with Mary called ‘For Good’ from ‘Wicked. Then I’m doing two numbers from my club act,” Henner said. “One of them is kind of a surprise, and the other one is … a head-to-toe salute to your body. I start with ‘Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair’ and I end with ‘Footloose.’ It’s really a fun, fast-paced number.”
A 20-person orchestra will add an extra dimension to songs from “Les Misérables,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Sound of Music,” “The Wiz,” “Dream Girls” and more.
“Guy Hovis and I are doing a duet from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” said Haskell, adding that the Buford Singers will perform a medley of rainbow songs.
Mary Lane Haskell, who appeared with her mother at Ford Center during this past summer’s production of “Hello, Dolly!,” will sing several duets and solos.
“She just shot an episode of ‘Scandal.” It happens to be one of our favorite shows,” Haskell said. “It’s not the finale episode. It’s the one before that. She jokingly said, ‘I could tell you my story line, but I’d have to kill you.’”
Many know Henner from the TV shows “Taxi” and “Evening Shade,” and her schedule continues to be busy. She appeared on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and will be on the season finale of “The Crazy Ones” as Robin Williams’ ex-wife and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s mother.
She also has a Hallmark movie, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered,” on the horizon, and listeners can catch her radio show at Marilushow.com.
Henner’s Oxford appearance will give her a chance to indulge her love for stage and screen musicals.
“Every number that I’m doing comes from my heart and comes from some kind of experience that I’ve had, whether it’s on Broadway and in films,” she said, “and I think you’re going to have a heck of a great time.”
All of the performers are donating their time, and part of the proceeds will go to the Ole Miss Women’s Council and the Ford Foundation for scholarships.
“I’m excited to share with you because it’s for a great cause,” Henner said. “Anytime you can educate and entertain at the same time, that’s magic.”
And if anyone has a hard time picking a favorite song, there’s no reason to settle for just one.
“It’ll really be a great, wide breadth of music,” Haskell said. “We’ve cherry-picked the best.”