There are nights in the course of attending live New York City performances where one has no other option but sit back in awe and admiration, filled to the brim with a “heart full of love” over the musical gifts bestowed on our town. Monday May 2nd was one of those evenings as the New York Pops celebrated their 33rd Birthday with “Do You Hear the People Sing”, an emotional night that honored the music of Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, the composer and lyricist behind Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, The Pirate Queen and others.
Held at their usual Carnegie Hall home, the Pops welcomed Broadway’s finest talent, many of whom were accompanied by the always stellar Essential Voices USA. The concert began with a stirring overture of the collected works, arranged by Pops conductor, Steven Reineke, and was followed by selections from Miss Saigon: “The Heat Is on in Saigon” showcased the chorus and Eva Noblezada continued with “I’d Give My Life For You”. Noblezada made her London debut as Kim in the show’s revival at the age of 18. Now 20, she continues to win audience hearts with her remarkably clear voice and impressive poise. Broadway’s original Kim, Lea Salonga, joined her for “The Movie in My Mind”. Salonga’s voice remains one of the best theater voices around. Salonga later joined Marie Zamora (France’s original Cosette in Les Miserables) for a bi-lingual version of “On My Own.”
Jeremy Jordan, Stephanie J. Block, Terrance Mann, Montego Glover, and Norm Lewis were also on hand breathing new life into these now classic songs that made us feel as though we were hearing them for the first time. Best of the all, the sound engineering was properly mixed to a perfect balance between vocalists and the orchestra.
The most notable selections came near the end of evening, when Patti Lupone joined Block and Salonga for “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables. All three have played Fantine in various productions. That was followed by Eric Kunze, Robert Marien, John Owen-Jones, and Hugh Panaro singing a unique, heart wrenching quartet version of “Bring Him Home” (also from Les Miserables). All four of the singers have played the show’s leading role, Jean Valjean. The entire cast joined the show’s finale, along with Essential Voices USA, the Children of Ronald McDonald House, and Camp Broadway Kids for “One Day More” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?”
Indeed we did and we heard the always wonderful New York Pops along with them. I must admit a blush of green over the hoopla of this gala. When I turned 33, all I got was a dozen half dead carnations from a now ex-boyfriend. Then I was young(er) and unafraid, but now life has killed the dream I dreamed. Why, God, Why?
For more information about the New York Pops Upcoming Season, and their return to Forrest Hills Stadium on July 7, visit http://www.newyorkpops.org/