BWW Reviews: National Symphony Orchestra Concert at Wolf Trap, WICKED DIVAS, Features Two of the Best on Broadway
Stephen Schwartz's Wicked is a bit of a juggernaut. It's now famous worldwide and even the teenager who eschews showtunes for the likes of Beyoncé probably has seen the show and/or may have the cast recording. For the Broadway beltress, the show also offers something a little bit more than a steady job thanks to the popularity. It features one of the great 'diva' roles for contemporary musical theatre in the form of the misunderstood green witch, Elphaba. Two lucky women who played the role both on tour and on Broadway, Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block and Julia Murney (last seen at Signature Theatre in the Kander and Ebb revue First You Dream) shared some of the songs from the show - as well as other songs for powerful women - last night at Wolf Trap.
Wicked Divas, which also included the exquisite National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) under the direction of the always enjoyable to watch Steven Reineke, proved to be a delight for Broadway fanatics (including, yes, those 'Wickedheads') and those who simply enjoy hearing good music under the stars.
While I was slightly disappointed that the selections for the program were mostly standard, well-known pop and Broadway fare because I live for lesser known showtunes and see these events as a means to expose them to the masses, the NSO - along with soloists Block and Murney - executed all of them superbly. From the instrumental pieces (the opener, featuring songs from Gypsy, was a highlight) to the ones featuring Block and Murney's stellar voices, there was something for every taste. Allow me to share a few I thought were among the highlights.
I've been a fan of Stephanie J. Block since her days in The Boy from Oz with Hugh Jackman and have seen her in every Broadway show she's done. While I thought something from the short-lived The Pirate Queen, in which she starred as fierce female pirate Grania, would have been well-suited to a musical event celebrating strong women, I must say the solos she did have demonstrated her versatility very well.
She proved she can belt showy numbers in a way that rivals Streisand herself with Jule Styne's "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl. She's been doing this number for years, but I think it gets even better - if one can imagine - with time. She shared her legit vocal stylings with Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Think of Me" (from The Phantom of the Opera) lending credence to the fact that she can pretty much sing anything extraordinarily well.