What's up, Pops?
"There are people in town who want to see what's in our Pops series who are either not -- or not yet -- familiar with our Masterworks," says David Itkin, music director/conductor of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. "Lots of people are seeing the Philharmonic for the first time through this series."
Classical music scoots aside for classic musicals at Saturday's "Broadway a la Carte" concert at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Artemus Ham Hall. A quartet of milestone musicals -- "South Pacific" and "Hello Dolly," hailing from an earlier Broadway era in the first "act," and "Evita" and "Les Miserables" representing the more contemporary canon in the second act -- will each, in a sense, be performed in miniature. Vocalists Bruce Ewing, Kristi Tingle, Mary Ann Robinson and Elly Brown will be backed by the Philharmonic's big, rich sound.
"What you get are not song-song-song, but done as a flowing piece of music so you get a sense of a whole show in about 22 minutes," Itkin says.
On a breather from his gig in "Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular," Ewing's on the bill for numbers including "Younger than Springtime" and "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" from "South Pacific" and the moving "Bring Him Home" from "Les Miserables," feeding his healthy appetite for belting out Broadway scores.
"I grew up outside of New York City, so for me, behavior modification was to bring me to a show -- if I got good grades, I got to see good shows," Ewing remembers. "Our Philharmonic is still relatively young and trying to find its audience. I hope this will bring people in to hear it because there is more music people will probably recognize."
Though "Evita" and "Les Miserables" highlight Broadway's more modern output -- and "South Pacific" was recently revived to great success -- Ewing notes that concerts such as Saturday's could eventually open up its repertoire to even more cutting-edge entries in the theater scene to lure new generations of fans.
"It always takes a little more time for the contemporary ones to hit the Philharmonic scene," Ewing says. "With 'Wicked,' young women are really in love with that show, and 'Spring Awakening' is such a rock and roll type of show. A few years ago, someone had taken an Elton John show, I think it was 'Aida,' and put it totally in a Philharmonic sound and it was great."
Performing largely in the second half of Saturday's concert, Tingle will tackle songs sung by the Eva Peron character in "Evita," and expects her interpretation to lean more toward Patti Lupone's lauded stage version than Madonna's film adaptation. "They say Madonna looked good, but they had to lower all the keys," Tingle says.
She'll also deliver "Les Miserables" numbers, including the rousing "I Dreamed a Dream," sung by the character of Fantine, and repopularized by reality show breakout star Susan Boyle when she belted it out on "Britain's Got Talent."
"It's almost like you get a little sense of the shows and I'm singing it almost as if I were the character," Tingle says. "I'll also talk a little bit about each show. Especially with 'South Pacific' and 'Dolly,' I think people know the stories, and a lot of people know 'Les Miz' well. I'm always surprised how many people love 'Evita.' "
May we take your order?
The "Les Miserables" entree.
The side dish of "Evita."
A "Hello Dolly" salad.
Perhaps a "South Pacific" flambe for dessert?
That's the menu for "Broadway a la Carte."
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at email@example.com or 702-383-0256.