BWW Q&A: Mikaela Bennett on BROADWAY BLOCKBUSTERS with Ramin Karimloo & Mikaela Bennett at Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Check out the complete interview.

By: Jun. 17, 2024
BWW Q&A: Mikaela Bennett on BROADWAY BLOCKBUSTERS with Ramin Karimloo & Mikaela Bennett at Toronto Symphony Orchestra
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Mikaela Bennett is a celebrated singer and actress who is garnering praise for her artistic versatility on stage and in concert halls across the globe and is a recent recipient of the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists. Equally at home collaborating with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall to West Side Story at the BBC Proms, Mikaela is a skilled cross-genre interpreter. Additional career highlights include her New York City solo recital debut at Alice Tully Hall, premiering an original composition by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Fransisco Symphony, and Handel’s Israel in Egypt with MasterVoices and the Orchestra of St Luke’s at Carnegie Hall.


She begins the 23/24 season with a debut at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in The Sound of Music (Maria) followed by debuts with Opera Saratoga for Guys and Dolls (Sarah Brown) conducted by Andy Einhorn, The Toronto Symphony for Broadway Blockbuster with Ramin Karimloo conducted by Steven Reineke, and a return to Carnegie Hall for Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath (Rosasharn) and MasterVoices.

Ms. Bennett made her BBC Proms debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall starring in the John Wilson Orchestra’s concert production of West Side Story (Maria) to critical and public acclaim, and soon returned to the BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra performing music from the Warner Bros film studio. As a featured soloist, Ms. Bennett has appeared under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel with the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing Aurora by Wane Shorter, the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Slatkin, and with The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center for performances of Zodiac Suite conducted by Jader Bignamini. Ms. Bennett has also appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, and New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, for the world premiere of his Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. Mikaela frequently collaborates with conductor Ted Sperling, most recently at Carnegie Hall performing Gershwin’s Let ‘Em Eat Cake (Mary Wintergreen) with the Orchestra of St Luke’s. Ms Bennett also appeared in Bernstein on Broadway as part of the Leonard Bernstein centennial celebrations at the Kennedy Center directed by Kathleen Marshall and conducted by Rob Fisher. Additionally, she returned to Carnegie Hall for MasterVoices’ A Joyful Noise featuring 10-time GRAMMY Award-winning gospel group Take 6.

Have you worked with Steven Reineke before, and if so, how does this collaboration compare to previous ones?

This will be my first time working with Steven Reineke and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate. I've watched him conduct as an audience member, and am very excited to now experience his musicianship from the other side of the stage!

Ramin Karimloo is a legend in musical theatre. What are you most looking forward to about working with him on this project?

I can't wait to sing duets with Ramin! He has such an incredible instrument, and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to get up on that stage and ride the wave of this incredible orchestra's sound with a voice like Ramin's. It's going to be pretty special.

What pieces will you be performing for these shows and why were they chosen?

Steven Reineke graciously asked us what we would like to sing, so we had the opportunity to choose some of our favorite songs. We'll be singing a very wide range of pieces from West Side Story, Funny Girl, and Carousel, to The Light in the Piazza, The Bridges of Madison County, and A Little Night Music.

Can you share some of your favourite “Broadway Blockbusters” and explain why you think they've stood the test of time?

Some of my favorite "Broadway Blockbusters" are a few that we are performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which (to name a few) include "West Side Story, "The Light in the Piazza", "Carousel", and "My Fair Lady". For me, I think they've stood the test of time because these shows are nostalgic and so rooted in the popular music and culture of it's time, the music was written with the intention that you leave the theatre humming and hearing the themes of the score in your head, and the composer/librettist collaborations were so inspiring and genius.

How do you prepare for a concert like this, given your extensive background in various genres of music?

It's very important to show up as prepared as you can for concert work with orchestras because the rehearsal period is very short and fast. Often times you arrive the day before the concert and have a piano/conductor rehearsal that evening, and then you have one or two rehearsals with the orchestra the following day with either a performance that evening or the next day. I do a lot of preparation before I arrive so that whatever I am singing feels like muscle memory. This allows me to freely make artistic decisions and find spontaneity with the MANY people I am collaborating with on that stage with such a short amount of rehearsal time.

How does performing with an orchestra compare to other types of performance settings you've been in?

Performing with orchestras is one of my favorite things I get to do as an artist. It's so thrilling to feel the weight of the orchestra behind you as you're performing. It's a very quick process though with very little rehearsal time. So in comparison to performing in a run of a musical or an opera, you don't have the same opportunity to discover and try things in the rehearsal room. But, there is something very thrilling about having to trust the ride and make decisions on the fly without having the opportunity to try it again. You learn a lot about yourself as a musician by being in this process, and I'm very grateful for it.

Why must audiences come and see the show?

You should come see this show to hear great broadway scores, old and new, performed with a full orchestra, lush orchestrations, and legit singers. It's not as common anymore to hear broadway standards performed and sung with an orchestra this large. I think that's worth a night out!




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