Broadway 1959 which played Friday night (just a few hours ago) in our city is just like the real deal, only more budget-friendly. The tickets start at $19, and that wouldn't cover a fraction of the cab fare from JFK or Laguardia to the show (2012 rates or 1959). So, save the cash and support your locals instead.
I am not just encouraging, but urging you to bring your friends, your family, your kids (ones that are old enough to sit and behave...ha!), your colleagues and your clients to this show because the people on stage bring it, and they bring it big time. The Tony Award-winning guest conductor Ted Sperling was fabulous. His absolute passion for the music was evident every step of the way. He shared a story about how he tracked down a song for which he couldn't find the music (titled "Ain't It De Truth"), searching through the daunting archives of Broadway's music to find it. He believes that the performance in Kitchener was the first time that song has been played by a live orchestra since it was on Broadway. All this fuss for us??? Now that's love.
If you are a good citizen, you will heed my advice and attend this show on Saturday at 8pm. It's your final chance. Expect to hear selections from Gypsy, West Side Story, The Music Man and My Fair Lady, to name a few. And BONUS, we ended the night with a final song from The Sound of Music. Upon hearing the announcement that this song was a sing-along, I realized that I had been humming along throughout the entire evening. Whoops! I hope the guy next to me didn't mind. Not my husband, but the other guy who kept muttering something to his wife. I have a strong feeling he was either saying "Man, I wish that chick would shut up" or "Gee, honey, the lady next to me has an amazing soprano voice". Either way, I made an impression, and that's what I usually try to do everywhere I go (and try especially hard to make sure it's a good one).
Even this afternoon, the man who was seating me at lunch at an unmentionable upscale restaurant (wouldn't want to embarrass anyone) said, "You must be Julie D. Martin", and I thought, "Wow, that print advertising is really working!!" Then I realized it was my Century 21 name tag on the outside of my coat. Either way, I still made an impression, right? Lucky for the server I was wearing that name tag because even though she interrupted our conversation every five minutes to make sure we didn't need anything else (I almost answered "no refills, but some peace and quite would be great") and worse than that, she used the term "brain fart" out loud in a fancy restaurant. But, I just couldn't justify slighting her on the tip because I sure wouldn't want her and her co-workers bad-mouthing me after I leave. I can just hear them now, "Man, that Julie D. Martin from Century 21 sure is a cheap skate." Couldn't have that. But, I think it's okay to have high expectations for customer service.
And music is no exception. When I go to a show, I go with expectations. I was brought up in a musical family. I sang my first solo before I started Kindergarten. I was taking piano lessons a few years later. I began voice lessons at twelve and continued for many years, on into adulthood. I have sung in choirs, but mostly enjoy solo work. I have sung on the radio, TV and live performances in front of thousands. And did I mention I was a vocal coach? But, after a while, I quit. Not singing, but coaching!! Why? I can't stand to hear anything that doesn't sound good. Pitchy, skreetchy, breathy, overworked, bad phrasing, poor annunciation, all the singing blunders you can think of, I've heard them all, and I just can't take it anymore. I once broke up with a guy just because he was tone-deaf. And when I fell in love with and married my husband, I did so for many good reasons, his musical ability being high on the list!
I guess you could say I'm sort of a snob when it comes to singing. In all honesty, that's an understatement. I am the female equivalent of Frasier. Yes, I like my cappuccinos a certain way, and I expect a lot from the wait staff at a nice restaurant (as you may have gathered from previous comments), and I have a flair for decor. But when it comes to the arts, just like Mr. Crane, I am no slouch and I won't stand for mediocrity, which unfortunately, is what North Americans keep churning out and have come to expect. It's not 1959 anymore; almost anything passes for music these days.
So, when I realized that Broadway 1959 included not one, but three singers, I was not overjoyed. The whole idea made me anxious. It was just too much pressure. Because, honestly, I really don't want to be critical. I'm just geared for it. Three singers? I mean what are the chances that they'll all turn out okay?
Let's look at it another way. The Three Tenors. They aren't bad. I'll do my best to think of three singers that I could listen to for hours on end without any complaints, three singers that have demonstrated all the right stuff.
Michael Buble hasn't let me down. Well, except for the time that he said that ALL Americans are fat. That's kind of a generalized statement, don't you think? And does he think that only Canadians are buying his CD's? Hello? Michael Buble! If you're out there, take your foot out of your mouth and answer me this one! Barak Obama. He's the PRESIDENT of ALL Americans. Now, do you think he's fat? No! But, from what I've heard on all of the Republican debates lately, they're questioning his American authenticity. Oh, is that why he's so fit? Or it could be because he does so much running? He ran for office. And I guess if he runs instead of driving a gas-guzzling car, then he doesn't need any Canadian oil, eh? But those American car manufacturers that he bailed out a while back sure could use some.
Back to my list of three good singers. I could listen to Norah Jones any day of the week, on a long drive, even on repeat mode. And I haven't heard her say anything stupid. And, finally, Josh Groban. He's a class act through and through. So, there you have it. Three singers that have my full approval. Buble, Jones, Groban.
But, did the three vocalists at the Centre in the Square let me down? Believe it or not, they not only didn't let me down, but they inspired me. Dan Chameroy, in his 10th season at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, is as smooth as butter. Lousie Pitre, Canada's fist lady of musical theatre, was a smash hit. My hubby and I loved her lower register, and stage presence was out of this world...so much spunk. And, last but not least, the young Elicia MacKenzie's had such a sweet, sweet voice. So impressive. She has played 'Maria' in The Sound of Music, and it is no wonder with her effortless quality throughout her wide range. And I'm not trying to compare, but her lilting vocals really do remind me very much of America's sweetheart, Julie Andrews, who by the way is not fat, nor has ever been fat. Oh, no wonder, she's English.
Anyway, all three vocalists were absolutely amazing...no complaints here! It was great to take a break from being a vocal critic. Being an admirer is much more relaxing. That's probably why Simon left the show. It's pure exhaustion suffering through the riff raff waiting for a gem.
Broadway 1959. A pure gem it is. My all-time favourite of anything I've heard at the Symphony. So, please don't make me beg. Just go. You'll be glad you did.