Philharmonic's Broadway tribute leaves audience members humming

They say it's a successful Broadway show when audience members come out singing the songs they've just heard. By that standard, the Las Vegas Philharmonic and its five featured singers offered a grand evening Saturday.

More than one audience member was singing at intermission; one even performed an impromptu dance. At the end of the evening, there were hums all around. The only question: what to hum?

The Philharmonic, under the direction of David Itkin, offered some superb instrumental accompaniment to selections from four Broadway blockbusters. Special kudos to vocalist Jason Forbach, a "Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular" alum, who was a last-minute replacement for an ailing soloist.

Forbach was joined by Mary Ann Robinson, Kristi Tingle, Elly Brown and Bruce Ewing as they appeared as soloists, in various groupings and all together on stage throughout the evening.

Performing selections from "South Pacific," Robinson set the tone with a spirited "Cockeyed Optimist," and Forbach's "Some Enchanted Evening" was just, well, enchanting. Ewing later was drowned out by the orchestra on a few occasions. Thankfully, this was rare and did not impact the other singers.

Ensemble work shone in the "Hello, Dolly!" segment, with the group's rendition of the title song inspiring those in the near-capacity audience to tap toes, hum and sing.

After intermission, Tingle showed her fine skills with "Buenos Aires" and "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from "Evita." And Brown's "On My Own" from "Les Miserables" was Broadway-worthy while Robinson had another winning solo with "I Dreamed a Dream."

The program gives no credit for arrangement, but whoever did so worked with skill and imagination.

Itkin announced the program for the 2010-2011 concert season Saturday, with chestnuts and a few surprises. If most of those in attendance sign up again, they -- and the Philharmonic -- will have a very good season ahead.