BWW Review: DIANA ROSS - The Diva Delivers A Spectacular Hollywood Bowl Opening!

BWW Review: DIANA ROSS - The Diva Delivers A Spectacular Hollywood Bowl Opening!

Diana Ross SINGS MEMORIES/Hollywood Bowl Orchestra's musical direction by Thomas Wilkins/Hollywood Bowl/June 16, 2018

Motown legend Diana Ross kiiiiiicked off the Hollywood Bowl's 2018 summer season with polish, pizzazz, and professionalism. Performing for approximately an hour post-intermission, Ms. Ross had the Hollywood Bowl audience in her very capable hands; and, more frequently than not, dancing in their seats. With 50+ years performing in the public eye, Ms. Ross effortlessly commands the stage with her wit, her charm, her flowing costumes, and very vibrant vocal pipes.

Evening began with masterful conductor, the personable Thomas Wilkins, leading the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in the traditional opener "Star Spangled Banner," followed by Leonard Bernstein's "Stava!" and John Williams' "Adventures on Earth" from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Wilkins and his simply marvelous 80-piece orchestra completely enhanced and easily revived the memories of E.T.'s aerial bicycle trips.

Joined by members of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) in the highly competitive and coveted 29 YOLA orchestra positions, Wilkins led his augmented orchestra in a lively "Conga del fuego nuevo" by Arturo Marquez.

BWW Review: DIANA ROSS - The Diva Delivers A Spectacular Hollywood Bowl Opening!After intermission, Wilkins and his Hollywood Bowl orchestra rousingly played a medley of Ms. Ross' hits - "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?", "Stop In the Name of Love," "Reach Out and Touch," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You Can't Hurry Love," and "Touch Me in the Morning."

Then, Ms. Ross swept onto the stage in a flurry of head-to-toe orange ruffles singing "He Lives in You." She worked her audience as easily as she worked her ruffles (which turned into a long train that eventually detached). She followed with "More Than Yesterday" and "Can't Hurry Love."

Various numbers featured Ms. Ross' strong distinctive vocals with the orchestra laying low, as in "It's My Turn." In "Touch Me in the Morning," she starts off strong with minimum accompaniment; then the full orchestra comes in complementing her. She readily displayed her vocal chops in "Amazing Grace" with just simple backup by the strings section.

And what's a Diana Ross concert without costume changes? The Diva (and, I mean that title in only the most complimentary way!) did not disappoint, as she changed from the opening orange to a deep purple fish-tailed ensemble with matching ruffled cape, and then a shoulder-less, blue gown with fitted bodice and full skirt (the better to twirl with).

Other songs Ms. Ross totally delivered (and nailed!) included: Billie Holiday's "Man I Love," "Upside Down," "Do You Know Where You're Going To?" from Mahogany, and, of course, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

If not for Ms. Ross's comments herself, no one would have known of the sound issues (her stage whispered "I can't hear...") or the recent broken ankle she was dealing with. Ms. Ross' years of experience had her plowing smoothly through it all to her audience's delight and enjoyment. (Only a dye-hard Diana Ross fan (like myself) would notice the mis-ordered lyrics of "Home" from The Wiz.)

BWW Review: DIANA ROSS - The Diva Delivers A Spectacular Hollywood Bowl Opening!During the phenomenal fireworks display from Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, some stage personnel cued Ms. Ross back onto the stage a few minutes too early. The consummate pro gamely vamped center stage working her skirt folds until the pre-timed fireworks and the accompanying live soundtrack completed. Ms. Ross gave most deserved props to Conductor Wilkens and his feast-for-the-ears Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, her keyboardist and guitarist, her trio of back-up singers, and the accompanying choir. She acknowledged the presence of her family in the audience and most graciously thanked the audience for being there to see her.

Ms. Ross encored with "Reach Out and Touch," leading the audience in an united sea of outstretched open palms waving in the air. What a beautiful sight! What a night! What a Lady! What a performance!!!

For future Hollywood Bowl events, log onto www.hollywoodbowl.com

A helpful FYI, if you have to bring your ipad, tablet or umbrella to the Bowl, you'll have check it or leave it in your car.

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