The New York Pops, led by Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke, closed its season at Carnegie Hall and celebrated its 33rd birthday, on May 2, with a star-studded Gala, “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” honoring composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyricist Alain Boublil, as well as MML Capital Partners’ Patty and James A. Reed, NY Pops Gala Event Committee Co-Chair and Board of Directors Chair respectively. Sir Cameron McIntosh and Patti LuPone were Honorary Co-Chairs of the Gala, and featured were noted performers, from theater, television, and so on, many associated with new and past casts of Schönberg and Boublil musicals, in music from five of them, “Miss Saigon,” “Martin Guerre,” “The Pirate Queen,” “La Révolution Française” and, of course, “Les Misérables.”
The Pops’ medley of such songs as “On My Own,” “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” “Why, God, Why?,” and “At the End of the Day,” as arranged by Reineke, got us in the mood.
The “Miss Saigon” selections, its songs written with Richard Maltby, Jr. and Michael Mahler, and arranged by William David Brohn, began with Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA portraying a raucous bar crowd in “The Heat Is on in Saigon.” Eva Noblezada, who starred as Kim in the recent London revival and will do so on Broadway, touched us with “I’d Give My Life for You,” and joined Lea Salonga, the original Kim, for “The Movie in My Mind.” Jeremy Jordan handily met the challenges of Chris’ high-lying “Why, God, Why?” There were two surprise appearances: Terrence Mann, as the sleazy Engineer, worked the stage and the first row of the audience, selling “The American Dream,” replacing Keala Settle, and Steven Pasquale, who had played Chris, moved us with the pathos of John’s song “Bui Doi”—“they are all our children”—with Essential Voices USA and Camp Broadway Kids, replacing Norm Lewis, who appeared later in the program.
In songs from “Martin Guerre,” written with Edward Hardy and Stephen Clark and orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick and Brohn, Hugh Panaro, the Martin Guerre of the American premiere, gave us a fiery “I’m Martin Guerre,” his credo, and joined Montego Glover, Laura Osnes, Kyle Scatliffe, and Essential Voices USA for exultant anthem “In the Land of the Fathers.” Selections from “The Pirate Queen,” written with Maltby and orchestrated by Julian Kelly, Brohn, and Neil Douglas Reilly, were the dulcet, then rollicking country dance entr’acte “The Wedding Ring,” with violin solo by Concertmaster Cenovia Cummins, and gifted Kids on the Stage playing beside the Pops musicians, and a heroic “Woman,” delivered by Stephanie J. Block, Broadway’s original Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley. Representing “La Révolution Française,” Schönberg and Boublil’s first musical, with Raymond Jeannot, Jean-Max Rivière, and Michael Mahler credited as well, were “Parisians, Awake and Rise”/”Français, Français,” a dramatic call to revolution, issued by Glover, Jordan, Scatliffe, and Essential Voices USA, orchestrated by Stephen Metcalfe, and Marie Antoinette’s “Au petit matin”/”In the early morn,” sung in French and English by Marie Zamora, much of it in head voice, with Essential Voices USA, arranged and orchestrated by Adrian Jackson and adapted by Brohn.
Turning to “Les Mis,” with Herbert Kretzmer, Trevor Nunn, John Caird, and J.M. Natel credited beside Schönberg and Boublil, Zamora and Salonga harmonized in a bilingual account of Éponine’s “Mon Histoire”/”On My Own,” orchestrated by John Cameron, Metcalfe, and Christopher Jahnke, and Lewis gave us “Stars” with intensity, illuminating Javert’s vow to continue to hunt Valjean down. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Patti Lupone, as the Thénardiers, the louche innkeepers, using Jordan and a string of sausage links as props, brought down the house with “Master of the House.” Reineke stepped down from the podium to sing the part of Valjean, confronting Lewis’ Javert. Osnes, young Marcus D’Angelo, and the children of Ronald McDonald House New York gave us a moment of magic with “Little People,” cut from the Broadway production, and orchestrated by Greg Anthony. Three Fantines, LuPone, Salonga, and Block, joined voices for “I Dreamed a Dream,” orchestrated by Jahnke, with Essential Voices USA, and four Valjeans, Panaro, Eric Kunze, Robert Marien, and John Owen-Jones, prayed to “Bring Him Home,” in English and French, in Cameron’s orchestration, Metcalfe’s adaptation, and Schönberg’s arrangement. The Gala’s blockbuster finale was the musical’s first act finale, “One Day More,” sung by most of the company.
The Pops returns to Carnegie on October 14 for “The Musical World of Lerner and Loewe,” with Colin Donnell, Nathan Gunn, Laura Osnes, and Essential Voices USA; November 11 for a Veterans Day “Concert of Courage,” with the Soldiers’ Chorus of the US Army Field Band; December 16 and 17 for “Make the Season Bright,” with sibling duos Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway and Anthony Nunziata and Will Nunziata, and Essential Voices USA; March 10, 2017 for “Life Is a Cabaret: the Songs of Kander and Ebb,” with Joshua Henry and Caissie Levy helping to celebrate John Kander’s 90th birthday; and April 21 for “You’ve Got a Friend,” music of James Taylor, Carole King, and more, with Jonathan Groff and Adrienne Warren. Visit www.newyorkpops.org
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