Captain Picard is beaming up Frasier Crane to open the San Francisco Symphony season!
Well, actually Kelsey Grammer has agreed to step into the 2015 gala concert this week because good friend Patrick Stewart’s filming suddenly schedule took an inconvenient turn.
“I wasn’t even really aware that Patrick had agreed to do it when they called me,” says Grammer from his Los Angeles home. “I must admit I’m a little overwhelmed in learning it,” he laughs.
“It” is the role of Professor Henry Higgins in Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.”
The role is not completely new to Grammer as he played it in another symphony concert setting in 2007 with the New York Philharmonic.
“That was a while ago,” he says. “These things sort of have a shelf life in our heads. I think I could probably go back to it more readily if I had just done it for a year. Then it would be easier to put back on its feet, but I’ll find my way.”
He’ll have steady support in co-star Alexandra Silber, who just completed a run as Eliza Doolittle at the St. Louis Muny this summer. (Silber will also sing opposite baritone Nathan Gunn in selections from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and “Carousel.”)
Grammer’s role was originally played by Rex Harrison, an accomplished actor not known for his musical prowess, and Grammer can deliver a spot-on Harrison impression, though that is not his plan for the concert.
“I can get him, if I must,” he says, laughing. “His performance is so indelible, that you’re always bound to do a bit of an homage to him. My intent is to sing it more.”
He’s got the chops. Those who only know Grammer’s “Frasier” persona, or as The Beast in the “X-Men” franchise, might be surprised to learn that he was Tony-nominated as Georges in the revival of Jerry Herman’s “La Cage aux Folles.” He’s also been “Sweeney Todd,” and recently opened the Broadway musical “Finding Neverland” with Matthew Morrison of “Glee.”
“It’s a world in which I feel quite comfortable,” he says, noting that both his parents were musicians who met at the David Mannes Music School in New York.
“I’ve always a big fan,” he says of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, “and this particular musical is really helped by the luxury of that big symphony sound.”
IF YOU GO
San Francisco Symphony 2015 Opening Concert
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 24
Tickets: $170 to $300
Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org