BWW Review: Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly Join Mormon Tabernacle Choir for Tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein
Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominee Matthew Morrison (GLEE, HAIRSPRAY, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA) and Olivier-winning Laura Michelle Kelly (who originated the title role in MARY POPPINS) were the special guests at a splendid Mormon Tabernacle Choir tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, also featuring the Orchestra at Temple Square and narrated by Oscar "Andy" Hammerstein III. The one-of-a-kind event was presented free of charge as a gift to the community Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21, 2018 at the impressive 21,000-seat Conference Center. It is available to view online in full (in five languages) at www.mormontabernaclechoir.org.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual "Music for a Summer Evening" concert is held as a part of the community Pioneer Day celebration and in recent years has featured such guest luminaries as Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Linda Eder.
With this concert, director Mack Wilberg has adhered to the same winning formula that has made the beloved annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert such a success: impressive guest artists, intriguing narration, powerful music, and a uniting theme.
After a tribute to the Utah pioneers from the choir and orchestra, narrator Oscar "Andy" Hammerstein III was introduced to take the audience on a journey through the careers of two pioneers of Broadway: his grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein II, and composer Richard Rodgers. He shared little-known stories about their lives and work, shedding light on how their personal circumstances and the times they lived in shaped their music.
Interwoven throughout the narration was music from their best loved musicals, beginning with the choir's rendition of "It's a Grand Night of Singing from STATE FAIR and featuring numbers from OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. What better songs to showcase the mellifluous pipes of the incomparable Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly, reunited after starring together in the original cast of FINDING NEVERLAND? They were featured heavily throughout the evening, including in duets such as "People Will Say We're in Love" from OKLAHOMA! and such memorable solos as Kelly's "(When I Marry) Mister Snow" from CAROUSEL and Morrison's "Younger than Springtime" from SOUTH PACIFIC (which he performed in the Lincoln Center revival).
Both showed a playful side, with Morrison leading the choir and dancing through the title song from OKLAHOMA! and Kelly taking off her shoes and gifting a flower to a choir member in "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy" from SOUTH PACIFIC.
The highlight of the show was the unexpected inclusion of the "Wedding Processional" in a medley from THE SOUND OF MUSIC that included classic Mormon Tabernacle Choir arrangements of the title song and "Climb Every Mountain." The scale of the performance of the processional from Richard Elliott at the massive pipe organ with the orchestra and choir was nothing short of thrilling.
The concert ended on a high note with an inspiring finale in which Morrison and Kelly joined the choir and orchestra to perform the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" from CAROUSEL under the breathtaking star-lit sky suspended above them.
For more information about this and future Mormon Tabernacle Choir concerts, please visit www.mormontabernaclechoir.org.
Photo Credit: Intellectual Reserve