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NY Pops Just Wants to Have Fun: Honoring Cyndi Lauper
by Bruce-Michael Gelbert      |   follow us...

   
photos by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
Ingrid Michaelson, Alex Newell, Boy George, Nona Hendryx, Estelle, Carly Rae Jepsen, Stark Sands, Pops first couple Eric Gabbard & Steven Reineke, Neal Coomer & Steven Reineke & Elaine Caswell, Cyndi Lauper
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The New York Pops, led with flair by Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke, closed its 36th season at Carnegie Hall with a Gala on April 29, billed as “Hat Full of Stars: the Songs of Cyndi Lauper,” with performances by some of Lauper’s illustrious colleagues and by the singer, songwriter, and activist herself. The Pops’ corporate honoree, also in attendance, was Scripps Network Interactive and HGTV’s Ken Lowe.
Reineke guided the Pops in Lauper and Nicky Holland’s “Hat Full of Stars” as the evening’s rousing overture, arranged and orchestrated by Greg Anthony. The vocal numbers, most with Elaine Caswell and Neal Coomer contributing back-up, began with Bridget Everett’s “All Through the Night,” a song Lauper recorded, which was written by Jules Shear and arranged and orchestrated here by Josh Freilich. Earthy Everett gave us a few twirls, invited clapping along, mounted the podium with Reineke, and fiddled with a cellist’s hair.
Stark Sands, the original Broadway Charlie Price, sang the first of three numbers from Lauper’s Grammy and Tony Award-winning score for “Kinky Boots,” a rocking, soul-searching “Soul of a Man.” Alex Newell, from the cast of “Glee,” offered a tender “Hold Me in Your Heart,” Lola’s song to her dying father, and Lena Hall and the Camp Broadway Kids Ensemble joined Sands and Newell for an inspiring rendition of the musical’s finale, “Raise You Up” and “Just Be.” Orchestrations were by Stephen Oremus and adaptations were by Reineke. Hall and Children of Ronald McDonald House New York blended voices in brassy anthem “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” Lauper, Stephen Broughton Lunt, and Arthur Stead’s song for Steven Spielberg film “The Goonies,” arranged and orchestrated here by Adam Podd.
There was a welcome appearance by Boy George, offering a smooth and torchy account of Lauper and Allee Willis’ “Who Let in the Rain,” in Sam Shoup’s arrangement. Caswell took center stage for an at once childlike and plangent “Sally’s Pigeons,” by Lauper and Mary Chapin Carpenter, in Freilich’s edition. Twenty young musicians, the Kids on Stage students, played alongside the Pops in Lauper and William Wittman’s “Shine,” almost as a bright contemporary answer to Pachelbel’s Canon, in Michael Morris’ arrangement and orchestration.
A glittery Carly Rae Jepsen (“Call Me Maybe”) romped zestily through Robert Hazard’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” made famous by Lauper and here arranged by Randall Craig Fleischer. Labelle’s Nona Hendryx rocked the hall with Tom Gray’s “Money Changes Everything,” in Freilich’s version, and came down from the stage, into the audience to sing directly to the first rows. Singer songwriter Ingrid Michaelsen delivered a wistful “Time After Time,” by Lauper and Rob Hyman, arranged by Shoup. Estelle (“American Boy”) proffered a proud “True Colors,” by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, in Shoup’s arrangement, the song for which Lauper named True Colors United, supporting homeless LGBTQ youth across the country.
Entering to a standing ovation, Lauper, collaborating with Kids on Stage, Camp Broadway Kids, pianist Stephen Gaboury and, ultimately, the rest of the company, closed the concert with her, Gray, and David Thornton’s political song “A Part Hate,” in Reineke’s arrangement, after announcing “Music has the power to change,” the power of “elevating everything.”


 

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