Rockford Symphony welcomes Jodi Benson for Holiday Pops Concerts

On Dec. 21 and 22, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the sounds of the season with its annual Holiday Pops Concerts in the Coronado Theatre. This year’s “Holiday Pops” features Rockford native and Disney songstress Jodi Benson and her husband, Broadway actor Ray Benson. They will perform two concerts with the musicians of the RSO under the direction of Maestro Steven Larson. Audiences will delight in the variety of festive carols such as “Joy to the World,” “We Need a Little Christmas,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” along with favorites from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and many more.

“We’re thrilled to have Jodi and Ray Benson perform with the Symphony,” said RSO Music Director Steven Larson. “There are so many terrifically talented people who’ve done great things in film, music and theatre, who started out here in Rockford. We’re glad to welcome them home for the holidays and give our audiences a real treat at the same time.”

Rockford native Jodi Benson has received worldwide recognition as the voice of Ariel in the Academy Award-winning Walt Disney film, The Little Mermaid, as well as the

bubbly voice of Tour Guide Barbie in Disney’s Toy Story II, winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture. Jodi’s current projects include The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea as Ariel, Lady and The Tramp II as Lady, 101 Dalmatians sequel as Anita, and Dream Works’ video Joseph. Before making a name for herself in animated films, Benson received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the Gershwin musical Crazy for You. Other Broadway credits include the Howard Ashman/Marvin Hamlisch musical, Smile, Cy Coleman’s Welcome to the Club and Kathy Ortega’s Marilyn: An American Fable.

Her husband, Ray Benson, began his professional career performing in television variety specials with Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Larry Gatlin and a host of others. Upon moving to New York, he was cast in the Broadway national tour of Oklahoma! as Will Parker, only 10 days after arriving in the city. Later, he starred on Broadway in Singin’ in the Rain. Some of Ray’s regional credits include 1776, Dreamgirls, A Little Night Music, West Side Story, My One and Only, Falsettos, Anything Goes, My Fair Lady, Kiss Me Kate and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Other film and television performances include A Chorus Line and the role of Mike Cole in One Life to Live.

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops Concerts will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22 at the Coronado Theatre. Single tickets are available for $14, $26 or $34; student tickets (up to age 18) are $6. This concert is also available as part of a Compose Your Own Series Subscription.

The Holiday Pops, part of the Rockford Health System Pops Series, is sponsored by AMCORE Bank and Rock River Disposal Services, Inc. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the RSO Box Office at 965-0049, or visit the Web site at

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