Gavin Creel may have graduated from the University’s musical theater program in 1998, but his ties to Ann Arbor are far from being over. The Broadway star is returning to his roots tonight for a show that will showcase his love of both pop music and his former college campus.

Gavin Creel

Tonight at 10 p.m.
Kerrytown Concert House
From $10

The performance follows the release of Creel’s new EP, Quiet, which weaves together warm, personal lyrics with acoustic guitar. The style is a far cry from the bold and bouncy show tunes he has belted out in past productions like “Hair,” but it’s a musical change that the singer-songwriter looks forward to.

“I can’t wait to do a set that will be totally acoustic,” he wrote in a recent e-mail interview with The Michigan Daily. “Just voice, guitar, piano … that’s it. We are going to try out a few new songs, bring out some from my two records and also sing some of my favorite covers. I am really excited for the shows.”

The transition to a more mellow sound is strikingly different from his music on the Broadway and West End stages, but it’s inspired by the same peppy style the theater world has come to know and love.

“The sound I am venturing into now, I like to call ‘epic pop,’ ” he wrote. “It has a groove and a theatrical flair, but it’s honest and pop at heart.”

Pop is, after all, the genre he is ultimately drawn to.

“I’m a pop head. I love pop music and good beats,” he wrote. “I’m a sucker for Top 40.”

The intimate pop style of Creel’s albums Quiet and the 2006 release Goodtimenation aren’t the only accomplishments under the 34-year-old’s belt. He has received Tony nominations and performed on stages around the world, playing roles in “Mary Poppins,” “Bright Lights, Big City” and other shows.

Even with this flurry of success, the singer-songwriter thinks highly of the school he came from.

“Michigan laid the foundation for my work as an actor and singer,” he wrote. “I mean, the basis of most of what I do as a performer, I learned and honed here.”

Creel isn’t just thankful for the academics, though — the performer holds the city itself near and dear.

“Ann Arbor has such a special place in my heart,” he wrote. “I mean, this is the place that gave me my first Orbit Salon haircut, my first Grizzly Peak Black & Tan Brownie and my first house party bong hit. This town is a revelation.”

A lot has changed for Creel since the carefree days of brownies and bong hits, and exactly what lies ahead for his career is unknown. Still, he has a few ideas of where he’d like to be in the future.

“I want to sing for as many people in as many places as I can,” he wrote. “I would love for my music and my activism to come together in a way that moves and excites people, and I hope to be doing this for a nice long time.”

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