The threat of bad weather this week swelled the size of the audience at the Hot Springs Village Concerts’ Association opening night of 101 Years of Broadway at the Woodlands Auditorium. It was a crowd ready for a good show and it was a crowd that was well rewarded. 101 Years of Broadway is the final installment of the 2014/2015 season.
Organization president Ed Pittman took to the stage to remind members to sign up for next season, 2015/2016. He told his obligatory Fort Worth brother-in-law tale and we were off to Broadway.
Last night’s concert-style show featured five Broadway show veterans, Richard Todd Adams, Carter Calvert, Chuck Wagner, Rebecca Pitcher and Natalie Toro. All five were well-pedigreed and well-worth the high price tickets standard in the Manhattan venue they were honoring.
The show began with Carter Calvert strutting her voice in All That Jazz. She belted out the number and charmed the audience. Calvert also gave a powerful rendition of Don’t Rain on My Parade from Funny Girl. She was peppy, gorgeous and had a golden throat. She kept up the beat in Act 2 with I Feel The Earth Move from the musical Beautiful celebrating the life of Carole King. The song is upbeat, driving and hard to sell unless you bring it all the energy it deserves, and she did. Calvert’s stunner of the evening was her dead on rendition of Crazy. She was Patsy Cline. Calvert showed diversity of character throughout the evening.
Calvert’s belting was the perfect counterpoint to the tender singing of Rebecca Pitcher. Pitcher has a more classical sound and she was prefect in Think of Me from Phantom of the Opera. Throughout the night she showed off her top notes, her trills and her mastery of her repertoire. She brought laughter as the very proper nanny from Mary Poppins singing Supercalafragelisticexpialidotious. She was crisp and fresh and invited the audience to join her in a romping sing-a-long. It was fun. She was featured in other solos and several ensemble pieces and she sparkled in every one.
The last female rounding out the cast was Natalie Toro. Toro had the more sultry selections of the evening and she burned her way through them. It was easy to imagine her as Evita in Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. She stunned the audience with her emotional interpretation of Memories from Cats. She flooded sensory pathways when she emoted I Don’t Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar. All three women were featured as soloists and in ensemble numbers. They were so different and yet blended so well together. Each a treat in a box of assorted goodies.
And then there were the men, just as talented and even more blatantly charming. Chuck Wagner was the male counterpoint of Carter Calvert, he could belt out a number or he could finesse as needed. He brought us more traditional solos such as If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot, and If I Can’t Lover Her from Beauty and the Beast. I was unfamiliar with the musical Jekyll & Hyde, he sang This is the Moment and I enjoyed every note. The high point of his performance for my husband was his Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha. My husband, Lee Beach, was the original drummer for Man of La Mancha on Broadway featuring Richard Kiley. Wagner couldn’t wait to have his picture taken with Lee after the show. He said Lee was walking Broadway history.
The counterpoint to Rebecca Pitcher’s more elegant and refined operatic bent was Richard Todd Adams, Rick. His selections showed off his raw power and smooth tenor. He wooed us with Stars from Les Miserables. He was absolutely perfect in Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera. He wowed us with other solos, duets and ensemble pieces. He was the more no-nonsense cast member, he emanated, "I am here to sing and dazzle you" and that is just what he did.
The evening was a delight, the audience was receptive and the show was a success. What a wonderful season, I am sorry to see it end. Because of expected ice and snow tonight’s show has been moved to a matinee on Friday. Hopefully, Thursday and Friday night’s shows will go off without a hitch. If you can get out you won’t regret attending 101 Years of Broadway, it is a stunner.
Don’t forget to renew your membership for next season or if you don’t belong to the Concerts Association, join now. Next season will feature Piano Battle, Ricky Skaggs, The Hit Men, Surf’s Up and Live From Nashville. Sounds like a season that will stretch me out of my familiar and will not disappoint.