The New York Pops celebrated its 34th birthday with a grand gala evening honoring Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara and Tony Award winner and this years nominee for his direction on Oslo, Bartlett Sher. Kelli and Bartlett Sher’s collaborations over the last decade have won universal acclaim. Also honored was a nominee Karen van Bergen, the CEO of Omnicom Public Relations Group.
The evening started out spectacularly with conductor and music Director Steven Reineke, the fabulous New York Pops with Jason Robert Brown on piano for his composition The Bridges of Madison County Suite. It was so easy to see why Mr. Brown won not one but two Tony’s for his work on this show. The lush and the sweeping melodies filled Carnegie Hall.
Reminding us what a great score Sweet Smell of Success by Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia was, Brian d’Arcy James, knocked it out of the park with the driving “At The Fountain.”I had forgotten how much I was impressed by this short lived show.
George and Ira Gershwin’s “Blah, Blah, Blah” from Nice Work If You Can Get It with Broadway’s original stars Matthew Broderick and Chris Sullivan pleasing the audience.
Adam Kantor, reprised his song “Miracles of Miracles” from the Harnick and Bock revival and hit Fiddler on the Roof.
On of the best moments of the night was the visually and vocally stunning Isabel Leonard from the MET. Singing “Una voca poco fa” from Rossini’s Il barber di Sivigla. Her rich alto was enhanced, by her soaring soprano as she glittered in one of the most beautiful dresses I have ever seen. Ms. Leonard was definitely a treat.
Next up a world premiere of Nico Muhly called Patterns With Direction written for Barlett Sher. This dissident composition was not my cup of tea, though the Pops played it well.
Next up a medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Ashley Park filling in for Laura Osnes who was at the MET Gala sang “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” along with the girls from Camp Broadway.
The adorbale Danny Burstein reprised his “Nothing Like A Dame” with the talented boys of Camp Broadway
Paulo Szot finished up the set with his award winning version of “Some Enchanted Evening.”
Steven Pasquale reprised his show stopping number “It All Fades Away,”from The Bridges of Madison County. Steven Pasquale is one of the best looking with one of the best voices on Broadway. He was accompanied by The New York Pops and Jason Robert Brown.
Marin Mazzie was enchanting on “Hello Young Lovers,” from The King and I.
As Ruthie Ann Miles proved she is “Some King of Wonderful,” from the same show.
As a trio of Kelli O’Hara’s favorite singers Marin Mazzie, Judy Kuhn and Rebecca Lucker sang a songbirds version of “Make Someone Happy.”
For the finale Ms. O’Hara took to the stage looking radiant. From Adam Guettel’s The Light In The Piazza, Ms. O’Hara told her “Fable.”
Making the night one of passing it on twenty students from the orchestra’s Kids on Stage program performed alongside The New York Pops. These students included Luke Actie, Lucinda Bryce, Eve Budd, Christian Chanderdatt, Lukas Chin, Julianne Chin-Drachman, Anthony Flanders, Miles Hilger LeDonne von Unwerth, Macy Jiang, Sophia Kschwendt, Catherine Li, John Liu, Olivia McCallum, Stella Oh, Nicholas O’Sullivan, Zoe Shack, Mela Sherman, Allison Shih, Aminah Sterling, and Mondriana Villegas.