The New York Pops under the direction of Stephen Reineke, never sounded so good or pleased their audience so much. With a sea of bopping heads, clapping hands and lyrics sung in abandoned “Heart and Soul” was exactly what is needed in this weary world we call home. Starting our with a mash-up of “On and On”, “Celebration” and “Let’s Stay Together”, we were back into the summer of soul, the 70’s and 80’s with disco beats and Aaron Spelling TV shows.
Smartly there were back-up singers Crystal Monee Hall ( Broadway: Rent and provides supporting vocals for Elton John, Mariah Carey, India Arie to name a few), Anastasia Talley (winner of the 2016 Concorso Lirico International Opera Competition) and Michael McElory (Broadway: The Who’s Tommy, The Wild Party, Big River and Rent) choreographed that oh so familiar look.
Ashford and Simpson’s You’re All I Need’ brought out powerhouses Capathia Jenkins (Broadway: Newsies, The Civil War to name a few and The Wiz Live!) and James Monroe Iglehart (Broadway Memphis, Aladdin (Tony and Drama Desk Awards) and Hamilton). Forget the show Motown because this is what R&B is all about.
James showed us his groves and moves in Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”.
Capathia did Gladys Knight proud on “Midnight Train To Georgia”. She might have even sung this song better and that is not sacrilege.
Full of soul, longing and passion James’s baritone soared on Donny Hataway’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”. His deep tones made us want to be and have that kind of love.
Barry White’s #1 billboard topping hit “Love Theme”, had the New York Pops making us nostalgic for those carefree days as memories flooded in.
Back together James Monroe Iglehart and Capathia Jenkins, who looked beautiful in a red sequined dress, sang The Temptations and the Diana Ross and The Supremes duet.
Getting the audience clapping and singing james grooved out on Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.”
Finishing the first act “I’m Every Women and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” brought Capathia, channeling Whitney Houston.
Act two had the Pops on an arrangement by Steven Reinke called “I Hear A Symphony: Symphonic Sounds of Diana Ross. Included were “Stop! In The Name of Love,” “Touch Me In The Morning” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. “
James and Capathia showed smooth styling’s on “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”
Capathia again wowed in a blue sequined dress as she embodied “Rock With You.”
Out of the 90‘s and into 2006 John Legend’s “Ordinary People”, was beautifully sung by James, but there was an interesting observation. The optimism off the 90’s was gone.
In Ottis Redding’s “Respect” Capathia showed she’s got moves.
In “Papa’s Feeling Good” James showed off his slides, and what a great dancer he is as the New York Pop’s grooved. Then James channeled James Brown complete with sunglasses in “Unchain My Heart”.
Then Capathia wowed the audience in a silver stunning dress that she completely owned. In the heartbreaking song “I Will Always Love You”, perfect vocal control mixed with modulations had the audience first completely silent, then on their feet for a seven minuet standing ovation. The audience was in tears for a life gone too soon and a performance that was breath taking and riveting.
For a finale James and Capathia brought Jackie Wilson’s (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher to another standing ovation.
This was seriously the best New York Pops concert I have ever seen. I could honestly see this moving to Broadway and playing to grateful audiences who are sick of PC correct, political anything and long for a more innocent time.
Do not miss March 9th’s concert “The best of Hollywood”, when the New York Pops shows just what a treasure they are and the April 30th New York Pops Gala celebrating Alan Menken. Menken is best known for his scores for The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and Pocahontas. Winning him eight Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, eleven Grammy Awards, one Tony Award, one Drama Desk Award and two Outer Critics Awards.