What an evening it was. A cast of five phenomenal voices accompanied by the huge Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jack Evely, Principal Pops Conductor, accompanied by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society (Tom Hall Director) singing the canon of the great French musical composers Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schoenberg. Who could ask for anything more.
I have been critical in the past of BSO programs which seemed to emphasize only Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Lowe and neglecting more contemporary Broadway music. But no more.
In a program entitled Do You Hear the People Sing? A Concert Celebrating the Work of Boublil and Schoenberg, the huge Baltimore audience was mesmerized with solid renditions of the creative composers' five musicals: La Revolution Francaise (1973), Les Miserables (1985), Miss Saigon (1990), Martin Guerre (1996) and The Pirate Queen (2006).
This Alain Boublil/Bouberg Production was first presented with the Indianapolis Symphony in October 20, 2011, then performed with the Dallas Pops at the huge American Airlines Center in Dallas and will end the tour in Ottowa, Ontario May 10, 11, and 12, 2012.
If you didn't make it to the concerts in Baltimore, have you ever been to Ottowa in May? I highly suggest it.
It was evening of non-stop hit after hit after hit. Many in the audience may not be Broadway afficionadoes or familiar with the music presented, but the audience was spell-bound by the five soloists: Eric Kunze, Jennifer Paz, Kathy Voytko, and Marie Zamora and the incredible Terrence Mann.
Kunze was a replacement for Peter Lockyer and I was surprised the BSO program did not have an insert in the program with his bio (which is available at www.erickunze.com). Also missing from the program was any information on the composers.
Suffice it to say, Kunze has appeared on Broadway in Damn Yankees (Joe Hardy) Miss Saigon (Chris) and Les Miserables (Marius).
Paz played Kim in Miss Saigon's first national Broadway tour.
Voytko was on Broadway in The Pirate Queen (standby for Grania), Next to Normal (standby for Diana), originated the role of Ariadne opposite Nathan Lane in The Frogs, and appeared in Oklahoma and Nine.
The French Zamora was the original Cosette in the Paris production of Les Miserables, played Kate in Kiss Me Kate (Geneva and Paris) and performed in the concert Hey, Mr. Producer in London celebrating 25 years of Cameron Mackintosh's career.
Terrence Mann. I remember seeing Mann in the original Broadway production of Cats (Rum Tum Tugger), the original Inspector Javert in Les Miserables (why he's not doing the film is beyond me) and he also originated the role of Beast in Beauty and the Beast.
What a quintet!
The evening opened with a delightful overture with snippets of the music to come. It was fun trying to name each song and show.
Then very slowly from stage right comes the tall elegant Mr. Mann accompanied only by the male chorus (females joining later) singing the stirring "Bui Doi" from Miss Saigon.
Conductor Everly was in rare form. He truly seemed inspired by the performers and the music. His asides included the mention of the film of Les Miserables (now underway in Paris) with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Ann Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter. He also revealed that next year there will be a Miss Saigon revival at the Drury Lane in London. The idea of Miss Saigon he added was fueled by a photo that Schoenberg saw of a young Vietnamese mother handing her daughter to a GI hoping to find her father.