Review: COME ON, GET HAPPY! at Riveview Performing Arts Center

Joan Ellison Sings Judy Garland

THAT MUST BE THE ENTRANCE TO HEAVEN Comes to the Urbanite Theatre

Judy Garland Tribute, Come On, Get Happy

The program opened with a rousing rendition of "Another Op'nin', Another Show" from Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate. Joan then joins the orchestra with favorites "The Trolley Song," "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart", and a wonderful walk down memory lane with a beautiful Wizard of Oz medley. The tuba was the star during "If I Only Had a Brain". The lively score of "Get Happy," got the audience clapping and tapping their toes. The Palace Medley got the biggest round of applause and vocal appreciation which included "Shine On Harvest Moon", Some of These Days", "My Man", and "I Don't Care". Other favorites included "The Man That Got Away," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Almost Like Being in Love/This Can't Be Love", one of my favorites "Stormy Weather," and, of course, what we were all waiting for, "Over the Rainbow." The smooth transitions from one great song to the next eased us into the right moods that were set to experience the songs only as Judy could sing them. Joan became Judy with each inflection, annunciation, and gesturing. She had the chops to deliver sweet lulling songs as well as boastful big tunes. Even her beautiful ball gowns displayed the look we came to know as Judy Garland - off-the-shoulder, sparkling bright colors and mid-calf elegance. It was obvious justice was done in this tribute captured with a great deal of research, love, respect, and pure passion to get it right. Well done Ms. Ellison, Judy would have been proud.

Joan Ellison

Joan Ellison has made a specialty of reviving Judy Garland's repertoire from her golden Hollywood years to her Carnegie Hall concert and television show. Joan is credited with restoring Ms. Garland's original orchestrations. In celebration of Judy Garland's centennial, Joan brings to life Judy's original symphonic arrangements with the permission of the Judy Garland Heirs Trust. In 2016, Joan embarked on a mission to restore Judy Garland's original orchestrations. At Michael Feinstein's invitation, she serves as Editor of the Judy Garland Carnegie Hall Concert Restoration Project for the Judy Garland Heirs Trust. Recently, Joan was given the privilege of restoring the newly-rediscovered MGM film arrangement of "Over the Rainbow." Joan made her Cleveland Pops Orchestra debut at Severance Hall in 2005 and has since sung more than 50 concerts coast-to-coast. Also in 2016, Joan played the role of Judy in the first U.S. professional regional production of The Boy From Oz. In addition to touring the country with shows she co-created, Love Finds Judy Garland and Gershwin On the Air, Joan has played classic leading-lady roles including Julie in Carousel, Nellie in South Pacific, Lizzie in 110 in the Shade, and Eliza in My Fair Lady (in concert). Her 2015 critically acclaimed second album, "Retrophonic Gershwin" was recorded at Oberlin's Clonick Hall and mixed and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Robert Friedrich. Joan earned an M.M.T. and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Early musical highlights while growing up in Iowa included playing Flora in The Turn of the Screw with the Des Moines Metro Opera, opposite Lauren Flanigan, and singing for Liza Minnelli when she came to town. She also serves as Teacher of Popular Voice at The Cleveland Institute of Music and is a member of Actors' Equity Association. For more information on Joan Ellison visit,

Sarasota-Bradenton Pops Orchestra

I must always give proper credit to the wonderful Pops Orchestra under the masterful direction of Maestra Dr. Robyn Bell. The Pops musicians range from age 14 to 88. They are teachers, parents, neighbors, and students. Some have jobs. Some are retired. Some have children. They have homes and schedules and commitments. They teach at local colleges, high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. They work in businesses, the arts, and health care. Some are military veterans. They live in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Anna Maria Island, Punta Gorda, Nokomis, Sun City Center, St. Petersburg, and Holmes Beach among other cities. Some of them are snowbirds. They have more than 60 members who bring their skills, passions, and talents to the stage. With this concert, we bid a fond farewell to members Jarek Vogt, Percussion, and Danae Tran, Violin ll. For more on the Pops Orchestra visit

Maestra Dr. Robyn Bell

Known for her innovative thematic programming as well as informative, witty, and entertaining audience talks, Dr. Bell has taken the Florida pops orchestra music scene by storm. From Rhapsody in Blue to Carmina Burana, Brahms to Bernstein, Williams to Sondheim, Robyn leads pops orchestras with her dynamic personality, musical presence, and precise baton technique. Every concert bursts with wonderfully performed music cleverly integrated knowledge about each piece and most of all, fun! Robyn has conducted the Pops Orchestra for nearly a decade. She is the Director of Instrumental Studies at the State College of Florida, conductor and music director of the Bradenton Symphony Orchestra, and former conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra Youth Symphony. She has guest conducted the Venice Symphony in Venice, Florida, and the Sterling Municipal Concert Band in Sterling, Illinois. Robyn has a Master's Degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Tennessee and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from Boston University. Bell has received the Silver Baton Award from Women Band Directors International and has been recognized by the Georgia Music Educators Association for her outstanding contributions to music education. She was awarded the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association and was made an honorary life member of Tau Beta Sigma, a national band sorority dedicated to serving college band programs. I said this before and it bears repeating, Watching the elegance of Maestra Bell slice the air with her passion-filled baton, hearing her incredible repertoire of eclectic varieties of orchestrations, and participating in her fun-filled audience interactions is a show unto itself.

You can access Maestro Bell's Suncoast Culture Club podcasts at

To learn more about Dr. Robyn Bell visit


FST Improv Reveals Summer Season Lineup

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) has announced the lineup for its Summer Improv Season, running from June 3 through September 30.

Hermitage Announces Second Year of “Cross Arts Collaborative” in Support of Sarasota Artists and Performing Arts Institutions 

The Hermitage Artist Retreat has announced the continuation of the Sarasota Cross Arts Collaborative, made possible once more with generous support from the Koski Family Foundation. This initiative is designed to give frequent performers and company members from leading Sarasota arts organizations a chance to expand their artistic practice from 'performer' to 'creator.'

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Awarded $25,000 NEA Grant

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has received a $25,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help underwrite its 2024 production of “Ruby” as well as to defray the costs of community outreach activities related to the play.

FST's 2023 Summer Cabaret Series Opens With THE SURFER BOYS

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) kicks off its Summer Cabaret Series with The Surfer Boys, an energetic tribute to the music of The Beach Boys.

From This Author - Carolan Trbovich

      Carolan Trbovich is an innovator who used both corporate savvy and her considerable creativity to blaze new trails in entertainment industry operations for two powerhouse music co... (read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Divas Three
Florida Studio Theatre (7/11-9/03)
#repshow# in[i]# Shear Madness
Florida Studio Theatre (5/31-6/25)
#repshow# in[i]# Black Pearl Sings!
Florida Studio Theatre (6/28-7/30)
#repshow# in[i]# Reel Music
Florida Studio Theatre (2/15-6/25)
#repshow# in[i]# That Must Be The Entrance To Heaven
Urbanite Theatre (6/09-7/09)
#repshow# in[i]# Creedence Clearwater Remixed!
Florida Studio Theatre (8/22-10/15)
#repshow# in[i]# The Surfer Boys
Florida Studio Theatre (6/13-8/13)

Recommended For You