Tuesday, March 25, 2014

concert review A TRIBUTE TO MARVIN HAMLISCH, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, March 9

Donna McKechnie
To read my complete Talkin' Broadway review of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra's recent Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, just click on this link.

"Composer Marvin Hamlisch had a long and illustrious career. Over a period of just a few years he won a Golden Globe and then three Academy Awards at the age of 29 in 1974 for his work on the films The Way We Were and The Sting, followed by Grammy Awards for those films and then both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for A Chorus Line. While the remainder of his life wasn't filled with as many awards it did include continued film score work, several new musical scores for Broadway, and an ongoing association with numerous symphony orchestras throughout the United States. Hamlisch left a legacy of many wonderful musical themes and songs, and, due to his sudden death in 2012 at the age of 68, it is only natural that his life is being celebrated by orchestras across the country. A recent tribute concert with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra that was presented for three performances was not only a living testament to the musical gifts Hamlisch left behind but also to the way he touched the lives of the featured performers at the concert, all of whom had worked with Hamlisch.

But the highlight of the evening was the inclusion of numerous songs from A Chorus Line, all of which had the added benefit of the artists "acting" the songs and not just singing them. These included McKechnie's fantastic performance of two songs that her character didn't sing, "Nothing" and "At the Ballet." Her solo on "Nothing" was heartfelt and touching, like the character in the show who sings it, and "At the Ballet" featured the lovely addition of Benson and a student performer from ASU's Lyric Opera Theatre. It was stirring. McKechnie also got the chance to sing the original act two solo song for her character Cassie, "Inside the Music," which was replaced with the showstopping "The Music and the Mirror." McKechnie's performance of both songs showed perfectly how a song can evolve and become better, and she even performed a bit of the Michael Bennett choreography. Two A Chorus Line numbers ended the concert, "What I Did For Love" and an encore of "One." In a lovely homage to Hamlisch, the first verse of "One" was changed from "every little step she takes" to "every little step he takes" while a large photo of Hamlisch was projected over the stage.  A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch with these guest artists will also be presented with the Philadelphia Pops March 14th to March 16th and the Atlanta Symphony March 28th and 29th. Information for those shows, as well as upcoming performances of Hamlisch's music can be found at marvinhamlisch.us.  A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch with the Phoenix Symphony played March 7th to March 9th at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. Information for upcoming performances with the Phoenix Symphony can be found at www.phoenixsymphony.org.

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