BWW Review: NSO POPS: DIANA ROSS - MUSIC BOOK 2020 at Kennedy Center
There are certain artists whose names immediately fall in the "legend" category and Diana Ross is one of them. Though no proof is needed, she is even a Kennedy Center Honoree, Grammy Award Winner, Tony Award Winner, and Oscar and Golden Globe Nominee. Her career spans over 50 years and dates back to the Motown era, as one of the most famous acts during that time. I was watching a Motown special a couple of weeks ago and Motown founder, Berry Gordy commented that "Diana Ross and The Supremes" were the "number one act" for Motown during its success period. Diana Ross is back in 2020 and dazzling more than ever before at seventy-five years old lighting up the Kennedy Center Stage with grace and incredible vocals.
Stike up the "orchestra" because Ross is coupled with the amazing National Symphony Orchestra on the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall Stage. "I'm Coming Out!" The first lyrics heard from off-stage and no sooner does the legend herself appear onstage in a bright, big, and bold persimmon dress. The crowd goes wild as they are in the presence of "the" Diana Ross herself. Did I mention that the entirety of the Concert Hall was completely packed to its brim?
The title of the show spoke a lot to Ross' choice of material she would present. "NSO Pops: Diana Ross - Music Book 2020." She indeed did choose the best of her astounding songbook, thrilling audiences of all ages. Shortly after Ross' opening of her hit "I'm Coming Out" she thrilled audiences with The Supremes' hit "You Can't Hurry Love." She sounded, looked, and performed incredibly and it only got better!
Ross was sure to perform her famous hits throughout the night including: "Upside Down, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Take Me Higher, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Love Hangover, Your Love, and Reach Out and Touch." Her voice and moves are very much there! Aside from that, her relationship with the audience was the most special part. "I love you!" she exclaimed multiple times throughout the night. Well, Ms. Ross, it was apparent that you indeed do love your audiences. During her "Q and A" session with the audience which she sits and chats with the audience answering questions, she regarded that she will be traveling quite a bit during 2020, but "this isn't work! You know that right? I don't look at this as work!" It was evident that it didn't feel like work for Ross, rather she loved being there in the moment with her audience, singing and dancing her heart out.
Being a musical theatre enthusiast, some of the most touching moments of the show were when Ross turned to covering songs from beloved musicals such as The Wiz and The Lion King. Being that she starred as Dorothy Gale in the 1978 film The Wiz, it was extra special to see Ross perform "Home" and "Ease on Down the Road." Both songs got the crowd on their feet immediately and rightfully so. Another song that struck me was Ross' rendition of "He Lives in You" a song found in The Lion King musical. Something about Diana Ross, backed by the Joyce Garret Singers Chorus, the NSO and singers and members of her band made this song shine.
Folks around me couldn't help but comment "I hope I can do that at 75." It's true, Ms. Ross brings such energy, passion, and grace to the stage. Her performance is flawless and effortless and it's truly remarkable. I suppose you can say "There ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough" for Ms. Ross because seeing her live sure is a treat.
NSO Pops: Diana Ross - Music Book 2020 has two more performances Friday, Jan. 10 at 8 PM and Saturday, Jan. 11 at 8 PM in the Concert Hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Click here or call the box office at 202-467-4600 for last-minute ticket availability.
Run time: One hour and forty minutes with no intermission.
Photo Credit: Kennedy Center Website.