The arc to the evening was chronological. Reineke briefly described the plots of each musical and mentioned some of the historical significance Carousel and South Pacific had being the first to include subject matter regarding abuse, sexism and racism.
|Ashley and her husband Daniel |
looking lovely at their wedding
I've heard her before and was so excited she was going to be coming to Toronto. In fact all the singers were making their TSO debut. In addition to Ashley was Aaron Lazar, and it was great to see Canadian talent on the program with Jonathan Estabrooks (see his interview regarding this concert here).
The choirs were highlighted as well, beginning with "It's Grand Night for Singing". They also got to show off their whistling skills in their other main numbers "There is Nothin' Like a Dame" and "I Whistle a Happy Tune". "Nothin' Like a Dame" was probably the most enjoyable selection as they passed around a mike singling out individual lines. There was one guy in the front row who stood out even before his solo with his apparent enjoyment and great expressions. It's great fun watching people like that. Back in the audience, I don't think the young gentlemen in front of me had heard the song before because he was cracking up at some of the more humerous lyrics.
Carousel was apparently Richard Rodgers favourite musical and is Reineke's as well. Here Ashley embraced a variety of vocal styles from the twang of "June is Bustin' Out All Over" to the serious romantic "You'll Never Walk Alone". Later in The King and I section she shared the loving romantic "I Have Dreamed" with Jonathan for probably my favourite piece of the evening. Such a wonderful combination of melody and voices.
|Aaron Lazar |
It's always nice when the orchestra gets its chance to be centre stage as well. Here they were featured in the opening "Orchestral Interlude" which included segments of songs that weren't elsewhere in the show such as "Everything's Up to Date in Kanses City" (from Oklahoma) and "Shall We Dance?" (from The King and I). The second half opened with the "Waltz" from the 1957 made for TV movie Cinderella. Rodgers and Hammerstein took that project just to work with Julie Andrews and we all know what became of that collaboration. It was a nice to hear the waltz live with full orchestra and I had forgotten that "10 Minutes Ago I Met You" was part of it. I couldn't resist quietly singing along. It was actually the Lesley Anne Warren remake from 1965 that I grew up watching and remember having to fast forward the commercials.
|Hill Twirl |
After Jonathan's "Edelweiss" solo he invited the audience to participate in the second time through. Nothing beats singing with full symphony orchestra! The vocalists then all joined together for the concert conclusion "Climb Ev'ry Mountain".
After a standing ovation and several sets of bows, the orchestra returned to their seats for an encore (yay!) of "Do Re Mi". At the first line from the choir of "Let's start at the very beginning" there was applause and cheers from the audience! I absolutely agree it would have been no trouble to sit through the entire concert again.
I will venture that the A-list of symphonic pop artists isn't huge (well ok, maybe it is, but I've only been exposed to a limited number, so still think it's small) and Reineke and Ashley have worked together before so let's hope that this is only the beginning of her collaborations with the TSO. Hmm, how about a dream team concert? My votes go to Hugh Panaro, Ashley Brown and Ben Crawford...could you imagine an evening with them...heavenly!
Kudos also to the sound mixer. It was perfect! The singers didn't sound over amplified that I've sometimes noticed before, and their voices were melded beautifully with the orchestra.