Friday 14 June 2013

Lyric Theatre's Hallelujah Broadway just outstanding

The Lyric Theatre Singers  are one extraordinary group. There is a reason why their annual concerts at the Oscar Peterson Hall in NDG always sell out and end with standing ovations. This fine oiled local machine is bursting with local talent as was abundantly clear in their 2013 performances of   Hallelujah Broadway. It  featured the unforgettable compositions of George Gershwin that inspired the hit show Crazy For You, the hauntingly beautiful melodies of Kismet and Phantom’s triumphant Masquerade, to selections from Anything Goes, Once on this Island, Cabaret, Titanic, Spamalot, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Book of Mormon and  more. With Bob Bachelor as musical director and the multi-talented young Chris Barillaro as his new assistant musical director this show is in good hands.

Chris Barillaro

A cast of over 40 performers took to the stage for this high-energy musical revue! This show had a little bit of everything. There were nice costumes, a terrific musical team and even some funny skits. Barillaro was very much part of the show, conducting, playing keyboard and taking center stage as a singer in several numbers. The show began some interaction between performers Linda Cregan and Laurie-Anne Jean Baptiste, one speaking in English and the other in French; Cregan on her cell phone and Baptiste trying to get her attention. It got a few laughs and probably loosened the audience up.

A medley from Crazy for You had high energy, followed by Lady’s Maid from Titanic, More I Cannot Wish You from Guys & Dolls and an entertaining rendition of Book Report from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Don’t Tell Mama from Cabaret followed and then Patrick Bernard delighted the crowd with a beautiful French song, Quand on a que l’amour from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. We Dance from Once On This Island preceded a medley from Kismet, a 1953 musical which follows the remarkable and repeated changes of fortune that engulf a poor poet. Barillaro was outstanding in the lead of Run Freedom Run from Urinetown, which closed out the first act with a bang.

Following intermission, Hello from Book of Mormon started things off with the 10 male performers really knocking this out of the park and generating a lot of laughs. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To (Something to Shout About) and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever led into a very well presentation of Hey There Single Gal/Guy from I Love You, You’re Perfect). This represented the most acting all night as Dan Derkson and Nancy Stuart played dad and mom to Tam Lam Truong as their son and Sara Sousmilllion as the woman they hoped to become their daughter-in-law. But things do no turn out that way.  Barillaro stepped up again for Sante Fe from Newsies. Then came one of the show’s true highlights – the entire cast in costume for Masquerade from Phantom of the Opera.  It’s Hot Up There (Sunday in the Park With George), a Bachelor solo called Love Look Away (Flower Drum Song), In Our Hands (Smile), Anything Goes (Anything Goes), The Song That Goes Like This (Spamalot) and a grand Medley from  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying  rounded things out. In fact, Bachelor brought everyone back for an encore and a number from the Wizard of Oz.

It takes a lot of dedication to be part of the Lyric Theatre. Rehearsals began six months in advance of the show and became really intent in the week leading up to the four presentations. Armed with some reliable corporate sponsors and extraordinary administrative and technical team headed by the dynamic Louise Dorais, Lyric remains a true success story. Kudos also goes out to choreographer Mary Sarli,  rehearsal pianist Linda Laroche and VIA Rail Canada  for raffling off a return trip for two in first class between Montreal and Vancouver and return trips for two in business class in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor.

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