Friday, February 26, 2010

HSO's Pops Concert Celebrates 100 Years of Broadway

Conductor Tyzik to Return for Next Year's Pops Series
By Lauren Yarger

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Jeff Tyzik (left) treated the Pops audience to a century of Broadway tunes sung by Great White Way stars Chritiance Noll and Doug LaBreque Feb. 27 at the Bushnell.

If you missed it, don't fret. Tyzik, a conductor with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, will be back next season with a brand new Nat King Cole program, the HSO has announced.

A sold-out house enjoyed the delightful Broadway concert, featuring a wide selection of songs performed by Noll, best known for her role in Jekyll & Hyde, and LaBrecque, who has played both the good looking and not-so-good-looking leads in Phantom of the Opera.

The orchestra excelled, playing selections from Phantom, My Fair Lady (in an medley arrangement by Robert Russell Bennett, the original orchestrator for Oklahoma), West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Noll (left), dazzling in a number of blue evening dresses, showed off her operatic range in some show tunes from the last part of the 20th century as well as a moving rendition of "Think of Me" from Phantom. (I would have loved to hear all of "In His Eyes" from J&H instead of the small teaser to which we were treated).

LaBrecque (right) showed versatility performing the fun, humorous "It's All for the Best" from Godspell as well as his signature "Music of the Night" from Phantom.

The singers performed some duets, shared some Broadway history and had some fun breaking with tradition in a fun number that had Noll singing songs like "If I Were a Rich Man" and other numbers sung by males while LaBrecque countered with his own repertoire of tunes associated with divas.

Fun accented the concert throughout, with Tyzik ad libbing when a chair fell off the orchestra risers at the start of the second act and again when he stopped the concert explaining he had made an error that just "train wrecked the orchestra" and asking LaBrecque to restart his number.

Colored lighting designed by HSO Technical Director Ken Trestman elegantly accented the concert.

Tyzik's 2011 Pops concert, "A Tribute to Nat King Cole" will be presented Saturday, March 26, 2011 with vocalist Keith David. Other highlights of the 2010-2011 series in Mortensen Hall are "Pops! Goes Vegas" Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010, Steven Reineke, guest conductor; two performances of the "Holiday Pops! Spectacular" Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 with Music Director Edward Cumming directing; "Irish Pops!" featuring Robert White Saturday, March 5, 2011, a "Richard Rodgers Revue" featuring the Hartt School Saturday, May 14, 2011 and "Swing, Swing, Swing!" Saturday, June 11, 2011with guest conductor Victor Vanacore.

In other news, the HSO has announced the continuation of its summer series at Talcott Mountain in Simsbury. The "the Sounds of Summer" will be presented June 25- July 16 under the stars at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows thanks to recent funding announced from The Richard P. Garmany Fund and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, among other sponsors.

For more information about upcoming concerts or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.hartfordsymphony.org/.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Ken Trestman, whose lighting design I comment favorably on is a personal friend, but I do believe I would have said the same thing whether I knew him or not.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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