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Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

For the First Time in Forever: The Songs of Kristen & Bobby Lopez Played April 25th

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

The New York Pops 39th Birthday Gala

For the First Time in Forever: The Songs of Kristen & Bobby Lopez

Carnegie Hall

Thursday, April 25, 2022

By Andrew Poretz

Robert "Bobby" Lopez is the youngest of only 16 people to ever achieve the exalted designation of "EGOT" -- for winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award -- and is the only double EGOT in history. His wife, Kirsten Anderson-Lopez, is a Tony award away from joining this exclusive club. Tonight, the spectacularly successful couple was celebrated with a very special New York Pops Gala Concert before a wildly appreciative audience of fans of the couple's work for many major Broadway shows, movies, and television shows, including Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon and Frozen. The audience skewed younger than usual for a Pops concert, as many of the songs written by either or both Lopez were for shows that tend to attract families and young viewers.

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

The New York Pops has not had a Gala since 2019, thanks to the pandemic. Music director and conductor Stephen Reineke introduced tonight's honorees, including the Lopez family and various members of the board, by having them stand wherever they were seated throughout the Hall, with the spotlight directed at them. There were many celebrities and entertainment dignitaries in attendance, and it was all tres exciting! Many of the performers wore gowns and tuxedos for the Gala party that followed.

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

The 73-piece orchestra deftly played a brilliant overture playfully arranged by Mr. Reneke, with orchestration by Matt Podd. The overture consisted of songs composed by the Lopezes, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Jeff Marx. Of note, there were an additional 22 student musicians from the Kids on Stage program playing alongside the New York Pops players, which means there were an astounding 95 musicians on the legendary Carnegie Hall stage.

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Some of the finest Broadway and film singers were on hand to perform some 17 Broadway and movie songs, including some "OG" performers who originated the roles on Broadway or who sang the parts for the big screen. What a treat to have the likes of, for example, Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad, and Nikki M. James from The Book of Mormon, performing their songs, complete with some dialogue, as they did so many years ago!

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

In an evening where every number was either a "home run" or a "triple," here are just a few of the most memorable highlights.

The film and television star Kristen Bell, who voiced Anna in Frozen, sang the show's title song from that film, "For the First Time in Forever." Appearing resplendent in a glittery white gown, the star nailed it and was then joined by Samantha Barks, wearing a spectacular silver and royal purple gown. It was a terrific opener.

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Santino Fontana joined Ms. Bell for a terrific duet on "Love is an Open Door," also from Frozen. Mr. Fontana, sporting a charcoal suit and a necktie, took a selfie with Kristen from the stage.

The aforementioned Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad, and Nikki M. James recreated several of their songs from The Book of Mormon. Mr. Rannells soloed on "I Believe," Mr. Gad and Mr. Rannells brought back a very funny and well-sung "You and Me (But Mostly Me)," and Mr. Gad and Ms. James delighted with the faux-naughty "Baptize Me," which seemed to equate Mr. Gad's "first time" of baptizing someone with his sexual deflowering.

The Mexican actor and singer Jaime Camil arrived on stage in a spectacular studded, black and red matador costume with a matching wide-brimmed matador hat. The tall, bearded tenor, who was the voice of "Poppa" in Coco, sang the poignant lullaby, "Remember Me." Olé!

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

There were a number of songs from Frozen, of course, all of which resulted in many squeals of delight from the younger people in the Hall. Patti Murin and Samantha Barks sang a gorgeous duet on "I Can't Lose You," a song that was not, Mr. Reineke announced, in the film or the original Broadway run, but added to a later national tour.

"Monster," from Frozen, was performed by Caissie Levy, stunning with long blonde hair and wearing a black toga that revealed a shapely left leg. Ms. Levy had perhaps the best voice of all the performers, singing a rangy song that required some athleticism to get through. A soft passage revealed her ability to sing an intimate power ballad.

Many of the original and later cast members of Avenue Q, an early hit for Robert Lopez, were on hand "For Now," complete with their puppets. This was simply delightful, and the performers, in character, handled a couple of technical glitches with great humor.

A delicious segment near the end of the evening had the entire Lopez family, including their two daughters, Katherine and Annie, sing a medley of TV theme parodies the couple wrote for Marvel's WandaVision hit mini-series of 2021. Each parody was introduced in separate episodes of the series to represent a different decade. For those who were familiar with the show, it was the equivalent of a "Marvel Easter egg."

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

The finale, "Let it Go" (Frozen), was something out of a Radio City Christmas spectacular, with all performers on board, the Camp Kids bounding down the aisles, and the audience invited to "sing along if you know it." At that, a little girl in the back declared, to much laughter, "I know it!" A surprising glitch with dead wireless mics caused the song to be started over, and every performer had to switch mics, and ultimately hand them over to one another like a relay flag. It was handled with great humor and professionalism.

It was yet another win for the New York Pops this season.

The New York Pops 39th Birthday Gala

For the First Time in Forever:

The Songs of Kristen & Bobby Lopez

Steve Reineke, Music Director and Conductor

Featuring the "Kids on Stage" students and the "Camp Broadway Kids" ensemble

Guest artists: Samantha Barks, Jennifer Barnhart, Kristen Bell, Jaime Camil, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Santino Fontana, Josh Gad, Jordan Gelber, Ann Harada, Nikki M. James, Mykal Kilgore, Maggie Lakis, Caissie Levy, Rick Lyon, Rob McClure, Patti Murin, Andrew Rannells, and Betsy Wolfe.

Find exciting shows to see at the Carnegie Hall website HERE

Learn more about The New York Pops HERE

Richard Termine's beautiful photographs of the evening were provided by Carnegie Hall.

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Review: THE NEW YORK POPS 39TH BIRTHDAY GALA at Carnegie Hall by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Andrew Poretz, "The Boulevardier of Broadway," is an entertainer (singer, guitarist, ukulele player and storyteller), producer, and a reviewer of jazz and cabaret shows, primarily for Theater Pizzazz. An early podcaster, his "Coaches' Corner on BlogTalkRadio" segments are still available on iTunes. Andrew has performed in prominent venues throughout New York and the Bay Area. Andrew is also a board member of The American Popular Song Society. His blog, "The Boulevardier," can be found at www.andrewporetz.com


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