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Sarasota Orchestra Pops

Also see Bill's review of Jitney


Lisa Vroman, Doug LaBrecque and Susan Egan
The Sarasota Orchestra presented its first Pops program, Bravo Broadway, on January 18 and 19, 2013. This program, conducted by Pops conductor Andrew Lane, featured soloists Susan Egan, Doug LaBrecque and Lisa Vroman singing a varied program of new and old favorites. All three have impressive Broadway credits and showed local audiences why, with strong voices and great presence. The notoriously tricky sound system at the Van Wezel was more complimentary to the females than to Mr. LaBrecque who had some minor problems with popping during the evening.

After the orchestra led off with a concert overture for Funny Girl (Broadway version), Mr. LaBrecque led off the vocals with "All I Need Is the Girl" from Gypsy, introducing his female co-stars joining in for "Together Wherever We Go." Now that we had been properly introduced, the program proceeded through such selections as "Begin the Beguine" beautifully sung by Mr. LaBrecque, "Don't Rain on My Parade" by Ms. Egan, and "The Trolly Song" and "I Could Have Danced All Night" by Ms. Vroman. I enjoyed Ms. Vroman when she could soar into full soprano territory more than when staying lower for Broadway belting. Later in the program I found her at her best in a medley from Show Boat with Mr. LaBrecque and "Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me, capped by a glorious high B that fostered memories of Barbara Cook in mid career. Ms. Egan excited the crowd with "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Cabaret" and "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." Mr. LaBrecque offered "Mr. Cellophane" and then further wowed the crowd with "Music of the Night" (he has appeared extensively as the Phantom).

Along the way Mr. Lane and the orchestra provided a West Side Story overture, the actual overture from Chicago, sassily played, and a medley/overture from Jesus Christ, Superstar. The crowd was on its feet at the end and the three singers gave "Aquarius" and "Let the Sun Shine" as an encore, complete with laughable sixties wigs, tie die and bell bottoms. What I found really funny about this was that none of them was alive during this oh, so long ago time.

The thing that struck me as odd was that in a program entitled Bravo Broadway, there was no Richard Rodgers, no Irving Berlin and no Gershwin, just one selection by Cole Porter. Still, the audience loved the program and so did I. All three singers have great voices and chose selections that demanded a lot from them. The orchestra played very well all night. My partner, who had never heard the Sarasota Orchestra play, suggested that they were within spitting distance of being a "very very good orchestra."

Upcoming Pops Concerts include New Orleans' Own, February 7 and 8, and Ol' Blue Eyes, featuring Michael Andrew, April 12 and 13, 2013.

Sarasota Orchestra presented Bravo Broadway at Van Wezel Hall on January 19, 2013. For other Sarasota Orchestra events visit www.sarasotaorchestra.org.

See the current season schedule for West Coast Florida

--William S. Oser



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