West Coast Florida
What a night they missed! Andrew Lane conducted the orchestra with soloists Christiane Noll (a personal favorite), Susan Egan and Gary Mauer, with an assist from local professional chorus Gloria Musicae, directed by Joseph Holt. The orchestra led off with a concert overture to South Pacific, mostly incorporating the lush orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett, after which the soloists introduced themselves with "Another Openin', Another Show" and "There's No Business Like Show Business." Next up was a round of solo numbers; "Johnny One Note" by Ms. Egan, "The Song is You" from Mr. Mauer, and "Till There Was You" from Ms. Noll. All three teamed up for a harmonized version of "I Got Rhythm" which was delightfully jazzy. Further highlights from the first act were "Tonight" from West Side Story by Mr. Mauer and Ms. Noll, "Gimme, Gimme" by Ms. Egan and "Climb Every Mountain" by all three with a major contribution from the chorus.
The second half opened with everyone contributing to "Be Our Guest" followed by a medley of "Belle" and the "End Duet" mostly by Ms. Egan. Next up was "Ordinary Miracles" by Christiane Noll and "Bring Him Home" by Gary Mauer. The chorus did a wonderful arrangement of "Everything's Coming Up Roses." All night long they had added depth to various numbers but this showed how truly superb they are with beautiful balances and marvelous musicianship. The orchestra offered up "Jellicle Ball" as a solo opportunity followed by Susan Egan on "Defying Gravity," "Think of Me" by Christiane Noll, and Gary Mauer singing his signature "Music of the Night." Everyone participated in "Oklahoma" as an encore.
Christiane Noll presented mostly her legitimate soprano side, although from seeing her in Urinetown and listening to her on recordings I am aware that she can belt as well. The high ending of "Till There Was You" was stunning, as was her final solo. Susan Egan is mostly a belter and she demonstrated why she has been a much in demand female leading lady on Broadway (the first Belle, a replacement Thoroughly Modern Millie and Sally Bowles). She will be returning to Sarasota on January 29 to do her one woman show at Glen Ridge Performing Arts Center. Gary Mauer demonstrated a rich high baritone all night long, but what really astonished me was the absolute beauty of his high pianissimo singing in "Bring Him Home" and the ending of "Music of the Night."
It was a fabulous night for all involved!
Future Sarasota Pops programs are Satchmo, Fats and The Duke with Byron Stripling on March 28 and 29, 2014, and The Beatles in America with Jim Owen, Tony Kishman, David John and Chris Camilleri on April 11 and 12, 2014.
Sarasota Orchestra presented Broadway Boundat Van Wezel Hall on January 24 and 25, 2014. For other Sarasota Orchestra events visit www.sarasotaorchestra.org.