If you witnessed people rummaging through their purses or coat jackets on Friday, October 9th at Carnegie Hall, they were most likely searching for Kleenex to dry their tear filled eyes. The New York Pops, along with Essential Voices USA kicked off another season and were joined by Broadway talent, Sierra Boggess and Julian Ovenden who performed the most stirring version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” I have ever heard. The song, from Carousel, was one of the many Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers heard that night. Conductor Steven Reineke sequentially represented every one of their musicals (even the flops) in a brisk, but wholly enjoyable evening of song.
Boggess, who recently starred in Broadway’s It Shoulda Been You and will soon be seen in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway show School of Rock, showed a playful and fun side in “The Gentleman is a Dope” from Allegro and “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song. Her more pensive side was on display in the obscure, but lovely “Everybody’s Got a Home but Me” from Pipe Dream.
Ovenden’s solos included “Oh! What a Beautiful Mornin’” from Oklahoma! , “Soliloquy” from Carousel, and “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific. The stage and screen star, most recently seen on Downtown Abbey has a serviceable, but not terribly compelling voice. He is the type of singer who sings from the page, but not necessarily from the heart. One exception was his moving version of “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music, which is probably a good sign; Ovenden is set to play Captain Von Trapp in a live version of the beloved musical on ITV this December. Perhaps he was just vocally tentative, given the fact that he was a last-minute replacement for the previously announced Steven Pasquale.
Boggess on the other hand, has the “it” factor that thrills. Her impressive range is warm and exciting and fewer sopranos can match her fresh interpretations of these classics.
Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA also had their moments in the spotlight, first with “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” from State Fair and later with a cheeky, solo-flecked version of “There is Nothin’ like a Dame” from South Pacific. Both numbers, along with their occasional accompaniment of Boggess and Ovenden proved that they are worthy of their frequent appearances at the distinguished Carnegie Hall.
As for the New York Pops…it goes without saying that spending an evening with them is like visiting an old friend: inviting, surprising, and something to cherish.
For tickets and information on their upcoming performances, including a November 13th tribute concert to Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, and other Sophisticated Ladies, visit http://www.newyorkpops.org/