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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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They’ve got the classics covered

Jeff Harnar and Shauna Hicks want to make one thing perfectly clear about “The Mickey and Judy Show,” their Spokane Symphony SuperPops tribute to Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

“We do not try to impersonate them,” said Harnar. “Nothing about the show is an impression. That would be a far different show. We are dressed as Shauna and Jeff.”

Instead, think of “The Mickey and Judy Show” as a showcase of the songs of George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Burton Lane and Harold Arlen.

These are songs such as “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “But Not for Me,” “Johnny One Note” and “Where or When,” all made famous by Rooney and Garland in a series of nine movies in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Those include the classic MGM musicals “Girl Crazy,” “Strike Up the Band,” “Babes in Arms” and “Babes on Broadway,” as well as the “Andy Hardy” series.

“This show is really about two people with great passion for these songs,” said Harnar, by phone from his New York apartment. “We use our show as a springboard to do all of those great American standards.”

Harnar and Hicks first sang together back in the 1980s when they were both singing waiters at a New York restaurant called Mrs. J’s Sacred Cow.

“A lot of wonderful singers went through those kitchen doors,” said Harnar. “We would do these duets, and it was always in the back of my mind to do a project together.”

Hicks went on to a successful career in leading roles on Broadway (“Blood Brothers” and a tour of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”). Harnar became one of New York’s top cabaret singers, doing stints at the Algonquin Hotel and on PBS specials.

Then Hicks came up with the Mickey-and-Judy idea about six years ago. It started as a simple cabaret act. Then the pair polished it during some cruise-ship gigs.

Now they have developed it into a full-blown symphony pops act. They recently performed it with the San Diego Symphony; Saturday will be only the second performance backed by an orchestra.

The Spokane Symphony will be conducted by associate conductor Morihiko Nakahara.

“(Adding an orchestra) has changed the show in all of the most wonderful ways,” said Harnar. “We can only compare it to a moment in ‘The Wizard of Oz’; it’s like going from black-and-white to Technicolor.”

The most memorable performance of the show was for a much smaller audience. Liza Minnelli, Garland’s daughter, once invited Harnar and Hicks to her apartment to perform the show (cabaret singer Michael Feinstein was one of Minnelli’s dinner guests). Harnar called it a “magical, surreal experience.” He said Minnelli was visibly moved.

By the way, even though the show is not an impersonation, Harnar admitted that Hicks does invite comparisons to Garland.

“Without even trying,” he said, “she has a lot of that Judy Garland sound innately in her voice.”

And does Harnar have some Mickey in him?

“The sound, probably not,” he said. “The energy and zest, I hope.”

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