BWW Review: Frank Wildhorn and Friends Bring Powerful Vocals to BYU
Tony-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn returned to Brigham Young University on Friday, March 17, 2017 to perform his music with Broadway vocalists, including new songs and selections from THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, JEKYLL & HYDE, and more. The concert was presented in BYU's de Jong Concert Hall as part of its BRAVO! professional performing arts series.
It was an absolute treat to hear Wildhorn's exhilarating music performed by such powerful vocal talent. It was a non-stop parade of impressive performance upon impressive performance. Outside of New York City, it is rare to see and hear so much Broadway talent all in once place.
The list of performers included Ashley Brown, who was the first to play the title role of MARY POPPINS on Broadway; Kevin Kern, who was the first to play J.M. Barrie on the national tour of FINDING NEVERLAND; Teal Wicks, who played Emma in the Broadway revival of JEKYLL & HYDE; Jackie Burns, who was the standby for Idina Menzel in IF/THEN; and Dallyn Vail Bayles, who played Enjolras on the national tour of LES MISERABLES. They were joined by the Young Ambassadors, with Wildhorn himself at the piano.
The set list was a wonderful mix of old favorites and little known gems, some of which had never before been performed in the U.S. This being Wildhorn's third concert of this kind at BYU in so many years, there were an inevitable number of repeat songs. Some were unavoidable and desired, such as the anthem "This is the Moment," which would have elicited a revolt from the audience had it not been included, and the beautiful duet "In His Eyes," both from JEKYLL & HYDE. Other less beloved songs, however, lost their charm upon a third inclusion in the concert when so many other options are available in Wildhorn's broad body of work.
For the most part, though, Wildhorn delighted with song selections that included seldom-heard gems such as "Measure of a Man" from RUDOLF by Kevin Kern, a crowd-pleasing solo from the new musical EXCALIBUR by Dallyn Vail Bayles, and a newly added duet to WONDERLAND entitled "This Is Who I Am" by Jackie Burns and Teal Wicks. He also finally catered to Utah's justifiable obsession with THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL by including four songs from the memorable score, most notably including thrilling performances of "I'll Forget You" by Ashley Brown and "Only Love" by Teal Wicks. The latter was part of the first Broadway iteration of the show before being removed and later added to RUDOLF. This was a rare professional rendition of the song that proved to be a highlight of the evening.
BYU's fruitful relationship with Frank Wildhorn continues to bloom and will hopefully bear fruit for many years to come with additional concerts such as this (hinted at by Wildhorn) and more productions such as the university's 2015 U.S. premiere of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO.
Photo Credit: Frank Wildhorn