Friday, March 7, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report -
Oh My Stars, Sequins, and Symphony
A Review of the PSO’s March 6th 2014 Pops Concert

Oh My Stars, Sequins, and Symphony
A Review of the PSO’s March 6th 2014 Pops Concert

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By:  Stephanie Curtice  |  March 7th 2014

What I fun concert! I don’t know how else to start this review, other than that. I was seat dancing practically the whole concert and singing like a song bird all the way home. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Jack Everly presented “All That Jazz”, a musical montage of hits from Cabaret, Chicago, The Act, Kiss of the Spider WomanNew York, New York and more.

Jack Everly
(photo courtesy:
Michael Tammaro)
As the show opened with "Overture", I was thinking, with the Oscars having been just this past weekend, this sounds very movie-musicy sounding. (Yes, I have a music degree and that is a technical term, movie-musicy, well at least it should be.) Anyway, I knew we were in for a treat, because we would hear some of the most well known musicals in robust symphonic stylings. And then out came the singers to join in.

With a proper “Willkomen” from Ron Remke, the musical celebration of the songwriting duo Kander and Ebb was in full swing. Remke was joined by Nikki Renee Daniels, Ted Keegan, Pittsburgh native Kirsten Scott and Tony award-winning Beth Leavel. Though there were only five singers this was no park n’ bark stuffy concert. The audience was both dazzled by the singing stars and bedazzled by all the glitzy costume changes.

Ted Keegan, who has previously sung the role of the Phantom on Broadway, whisked us away with “First You Dream” from Steel Pier. His voice will make you melt. He later showed a light-hearted comical side singing “Mister Cellophane” from Chicago. He is phenomenal!

The girls started spicing things up with “Two Ladies” and “Everybody’s Girl” from Cabaret. One could totally see how Beth Leavel won a Tony. She is a total ham and your eyes will never leave her because she is such an entertainer on every level. The trio of gals kept the heat coming in the second half with “City Lights” from The Act and “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago.

John Kander and Fred Ebb
(photo courtesy:
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
While most of the music of the evening was upbeat, there was no mistaking the beautiful soaring voices of Nikki Renee Daniels and Carnegie Mellon graduate Kirsten Scott. Daniels beautifully performed one of the more tender pieces of the night, “Go Back Home” from The Scottsboro Boys. Scott sang gorgeously as well as showcased some sizzling and sultry dance moves in “Roxie” and “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago.

The works of the super successful songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb have become contemporary musical classics. Their recipe of steamy and provocative story lines, snappy lyrics, and jazzy orchestration led to 5 decades worth of hit musicals and films.

Orchestras for musicals are normally much smaller, maybe to fit down in the close quarters of the pit. But, the PSO brought a robust and studio recording-like sound to these musical favorites, without sounding clunky. It was a great opportunity to hear snappy character and a jazzy side of the PSO’s playing.

Guest Conductor, Jack Everly made two promises to the audience at Heinz Hall - we would leave the concert happier than when we arrived, and though we would hear both songs we knew and some we didn’t, all would be great. He was absolutely right on both counts.

Additional Performances:
Friday, March 7th  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Saturday, March 8th  |  8 PM  |  Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 9th  |  2:30 PM  |  Heinz Hall

By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter
(c) 2014

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