'Broadway Showstoppers' - In Concert
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"BROADWAY SHOWSTOPPERS"- IN CONCERT
Peter Nero celebrates his 25th year as conductor of the famous Philly Pops with yet another block- buster Broadway Concert in Philadelphia. The lavish glass palace, The Kimmel Center is home to Verizon Hall, which was sold out to near capacity for another show stopping event. What is fast becoming its signature show, Broadway Showstoppers is a unique concert that features a world-class orchestra teaming up with some of Broadway's hottest stars.
We are treated to Broadway's Tony- award winning starlet, Sutton Foster, joined by veteran performers William Michals, Dee Hoty, Matt Bogart and Donna McKechnie. This year's event held some special surprises; a selection set of musical numbers from A Chorus Line, City of Angels, Little Shop of Horrors, some classic Rodgers and Hammerstein and finally West Side Story, presented in a mini-musical form for each show. The Pops own professional chorus, the Voices of the Pops, directed by Jeffrey S. Kern, joins this esteemed cast. This is truly an ensemble that would be the envy of any New York production. Also, for the first time, the Philly Pops welcomes The Kids from Wisconsin; three of the best of hundreds who audition in Wisconsin for a chance to perform in a concert series. Augie Haas, at 19, majors in jazz trumpet having played for 9 years and currently plays in a jazz band. Kelsey Klug, a 19-year-old soprano and sophomore majoring in Music Ed. for piano and voice at the University of Wisconsin and D. Eric Woolweber, 17, from Germantown WI, who has been performing in musical theater since he was 7 years old. These talented kids are thrilled to be part of such an exciting series.
The orchestra opens with the overture from Candide and moves right into a stirring rendition of Lullaby of Broadway joined by the entire cast. The first selections were from A Chorus Line. Dee Hoty offered a heartfelt "What I Did For Love" where she was joined by the Voices of the Pops. All three ladies Dee, Sutton & Donna shared the touching number " At The Ballet." City of Angels was next as Dee Hoty & Matt Bogart teased each other with a naughty, charming song simply called " The Tennis Song." Next we heard from Dee & Sutton in the cute number " What You Don't Know About Women." Finally, William Michals & Matt Bogart faced off in the battle of the split personality in " You're Nothing Without Me."
The incredible Donna McKechnie sparked up the night with a personal experience with Sweet Charity and then completely wowed the audience, top hat and cane in hand, with her singing, dancing version of " If My Friends Could See Me Now." Next came Little Shop of Horrors, current home of Hunter Foster, Sutton's equally talented Broadway brother. Sutton and Matt sang the popular and cute " Suddenly Seymour." Of course the show's title song was next in line and Matt, Dee & Sutton had the crowd bopping to this little ditty.
No tribute to Broadway would be complete without some great selections from Rogers & Hammerstein and this year's choices were "Nothing Like a Dame" as Matt & William were joined by the guys of the Voices of the Pops. The gals from Voice of the Pops quickly had their rebuttal with South Pacific's "Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" led by Sutton and Dee. The entire group closed the first Act with a roaring version of Oklahoma!
Act Two opens with the touching ballad from Camelot, "If Ever I Would Leave You" sung beautifully by Matt Bogart, who twice played the role of Lancelot recently. Sutton Foster, looking beautiful in a long slender black dress, held the audience in awe with a sultry-belting version of "Gimme, Gimme" from her current role as Mille in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Up next was a medley from the great My Fair Lady as William Michals took a more serious tone in the style of Rex Harrison with a great voice, version of " I've Grown Accustom To Her Face." He was joined onstage by Matt Bogart to sing a whimsical "I'm Getting Married In The Morning." These highlights finished with a very polished "I Could Have Danced All Night" by Sutton Foster, who hits the money notes with ease.
The last show to be offered opened with a robust "America" from West Side Story. Donna McKechnie came to life in a lovely red chiffon layered dress as she portrayed Anita with zest, joined by the equally elegant and beautiful Dee Hoty who wore a beige and earth tone fitted gown. Both Sutton and Dee taunted our Anita who wasn't fazed in the least as she sang and danced around the two. The Voices of the Pops gals joined in the chorus portions of this great song to end in thunderous applause. The Sharks & Jets entered from the far stage singing "Cool," led by Matt & William, the male Voices of the Pops join in a well- executed "The Rumble" which leads into the entire cast singing "Tonight."
Peter Nero and the Philly Pops were in top form as usual and sounded perfect for this diverse, fast paced program as the audience is transformed from one show to another.
The traditional encore was anticipated and this cast and ensemble delivered with a powerful "Climb Every Mountain" that nearly shook the pipe organ. A very appreciative audience gave a long round of cheers and applause that was well deserved.
"Broadwayshowstoppers" In Concert plays Jan 28, 30, 31 and Feb. 1 in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel center.
Tickets and information: www.phillypops.com or 215.546.6400