BWW Review: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs a Rousing Rodgers & Hammerstein Concert
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs a Rousing Rodgers & Hammerstein Concert
Principal Baltimore Symphony Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly once again conducts a superb concert with a Broadway theme - the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
The BSO brought three stars of the Great White Way to Baltimore. Ashley Brown originated the title role in MARY POPPINS on Broadway and starred in Jack O'Brien's national tour of THE SOUND OF MUSIC and was the understudy for the SOM LIVE on NBC. Ben Crawford comes directly from the Broadway cast of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA where he plays the Phantom. Ted Keegan also has played the title role in PHANTOM on Broadway. What a trio they are!!
Everly started the evening with the gorgeous Overture to THE SOUND OF MUSIC and introduced Brown wearing a gorgeous turquoise gown to singing the lyrics.
This was followed by the Overture to OKLAHOMA and from backstage came the haunting opening number "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" sung by Keegan. Then came the first of many duets - OKLAHOMA'S "People Will Say We're in Love" by Brown and Crawford.
What really helps the evening are Conductor Everly's anecdotes. He spoke of the 16-year collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein beginning in 1943. He added they had some flops including ALLEGRO, ME AND JULIA, and PIPE DREAM.
Then came the guffaw. Everly began to talk about a song from CAROUSEL "Soliloquy" and then noticed he skipped a number. He jokingly looked at the music of Concertmaster Jonathan Carney to see what he should be playing which happened to be the exquisite "Overture" to CAROUSEL. Then he played the magnificent "Soliloquy" done by Crawford. The song sung by "Billy Bigelow" discusses the excitement of having a boy or maybe even a girl. Crawford then spoke about the birth of his very own girl.
THE KING AND I followed with the instrumental "March of the Children". Keegan and Brown then sang the gorgeous "I Have Dreamed". Brown then tackled "Getting to Know You" and asked the audience to sing along.
Act I finished with the three sings performing "Shall We Dance" and did a little dance.
After intermission came SOUTH PACIFIC with the Chorus singing the lovely "Bali Ha'i" aided by Brown who came dressed in a brown sequined gown and her hair was put up. She stayed on stage for "I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy".
The highlight of the evening was next. Crawford sang what I believe was the best "Some Enchanted Evening" I have ever heard.
Keegan then sang the lovely "Younger Than Springtime" with the chorus in the background with a touch of "Bali Ha'I"
Certainly, another highlight was the touch of comedy and both Crawford and Keegan nailed "There is Nothing Like a Dame" along with the chorus. They deserved the extended applause.
Conductor Everly spoke about growing up and listening to his parents play most of this music. After the three "bombs" listed above, in 1957 Rodgers and Hammerstein went in a different direction with A FLOWER DRUM SONG. He mentioned that Gene Kelly stage directed the show on Broadway. Everly announced he would be playing the actual orchestration for the "Overture" to the film score for the very first time anywhere and what a lush score it was.
The final show was highlights of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. First came the "Overture" followed by the chorus singing "Processional", the Latin part of the wedding ceremony. Everly dropped his baton and only used his hands ever so carefully with the chorus. Brown then entered and sang "My Favorite Things".
Everly mentioned this was their last show. Hammerstein died nine months after the show opened on Broadway. Their last song written was "Edelweiss". I did not know that Rodgers wrote two songs for the film (both music and lyrics), "I Have Confidence" and "Something Good" which was sung by Brown and Crawford.
Brown reminisced about being loving THE SOUND OF MUSIC and how she wanted to work with the tour directed by Jack O'Brien. She did...but not as "Maria" but as "Mother Abbess" and she sang "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." She lamented she did it at the young age of 35. She added she 8 shows a week while being pregnant for 7 and ½ months. She stated she would sing to her baby every night on stage and now, her 2 and ½ year hates the song.
The evening ended with her version of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" accompanied by the chorus and it was "goose bump city"!!!! What a way to end a great evening.
Baltimore Choral Arts Society Director Anthony Blake Clark took a bow at the end. They were terrific.
I highly recommend using the logos of the Broadway shows on the scrim on stage along with the names of the songs.
The next Superpops features "Christina Bianco: Woman of a Thousand Voices Feb. 28 (at Strathmore) and March 1-3 at the Meyerhoff
HAMILTON'S Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. and BSO perform Friday night April 26, 2019 at 8 p.m.
Odom then heads to DC's Kennedy Center to perform with NSO Pops May 1 to May 3..