|Ben Crawford |
|Heath Calvert |
Highlights of these concerts are what I've dubbed "Everly Interludes". These would be the times when Jack faces the audience to introduce the pieces, or even to promote the upcoming season. The promotion always occurs this time of year, and he has this half serious/half sarcastic way of reminding everyone that "we love subscriptions. Individual tickets are nice, but we love subscriptions". His description of next season (prefaced by a smiling "It's going to be great! Of course you haven't heard me say that before?") included the finale which is "featuring the music of ABBA". This triggered an instant "Oooooo" from the audience. And just because it was so good, he said it again, and on cue was rewarded with an even stronger "Oooooo". His response? "You're so easy" :)
|Ted Keegan |
Personally I love the arrangement. It leaves out the over done "Maria" and since that song is already included in this program as a solo for Ted Keegan, it was nice to not have it revisited in the "Overture".
Searching for songs afterwards led me to some new places this time. There were a few pieces I didn't know from the medleys and on this hearing scribbled down enough of the words that internet searches proved helpful. This highlights another aspect of Jack Everly concerts that are intriguing. The music is not a rehash of what everyone knows. The songs I didn't recognize turned out to be "Anthem" from Chess, "Muddy Water" from Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, "Wait Till You See Her" from By Jupiter, and "My Heart is so Full of You" from The Most Happy Fella. A rather eclectic group. Chess is from the same composers as Mamma Mia! (ie: former ABBA members) with lyrics by Tim Rice and was created in the early 1980's. The song is actually about the character's homeland of Russia, yet out of context with no background knowledge I thought it was about a girl, and that context fits too. Big River, also from the 1980's, has a much lighter storyline and from youtube searches seems to have quite a history in amateur productions. Jumping back in time, By Jupiter was the last full length work by Rodgers and Hart, making its Broadway debut in 1942 starring Ray Bolger (best known these days as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz). Between these two time frames came Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella, which has enjoyed several revivals since the 1956 beginnings. I've since listened, several times, to the 2008 in concert recording of Chess, featuring Idina Menzel and Josh Groban, and am now interested in seeing the production when the London cast comes to Toronto for the 2011-12 Mirvish season. So it's all connected.
Sitting where I was limited my view of those in the back, and in this regard they tended to slip further to the back of my mind when another performer was involved, which typically doesn't happen when I can see more of them. In their stand out orchestra only pieces however, it was an opportunity to really listen and pick out what instruments were featured, like the horn solo in West Side Story. Whoever was sitting on the end seat in the 2nd row of violas (from checking bios with pictures on the NAC website, I think it was David Thies-Thompson) was quite enjoyable to watch. He seemed to be having a good time along with concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki who was almost out of his chair on several occasions. The beginning of the "Les Miserables Medley" had so much going on it sounded like the orchestra wasn't together at times. No one (that I could see anyway) had a worried expression flash across their face, so I'll put it down to delay of sound reaching me, and my lack of knowledge :). Thanks to all the gracious performers for another wonderful evening at the NAC!