'E.R' actress brings her jazz set to South Park

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Gloria Reuben is best known to the public for her acting, primarily as the character Jeanie Boulet on the television show "E.R."

So it might surprise you that her first love was music.

Ms. Reuben will perform a double bill on Friday at the South Park Amphitheatre with the Caribbean Jazz Project.

"There was music always in my house," says Ms. Reuben, 50, who was born and raised in Toronto. "I played piano since I was a little girl, and it grew from there."

Although she studied classical at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, she never stayed in that genre.

"I just kind of grew -- musical tastes change," she says. "I listen to classical music every day, but I love rock 'n' roll and the classic female vocalists [such as Ella Fitzgerald and Saran Vaughan] -- I love their storytelling."

She got into acting on a lark and moved to Los Angeles in her early 20s. And for her, the acting became more lucrative, garnering parts in such films as "Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue" and "Lincoln" and TV series such as "The Agency" and "Raising the Bar" -- and, of course, "E.R."

"I didn't set out to be an actor," Ms. Reuben says, "but it became part of the creative world, so to speak."

The Friday concert represents Ms. Reuben's first-ever gig in Pittsburgh. She said that she met MCG Jazz executive producer Marty Ashby last year at a performing arts center in New York. "We decided after some conversations that we would start on some music," she says.

In the fall she's returning to MCG Jazz to record an album, and "We're doing some of the songs that will be on the record."

Backing her up are a group of local musicians -- Mr. Ashby, on guitar; pianist Alton Merrill; bassist Tony DePaolis; and drummer Tom Wendt.

The free concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

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