While spring continued to confound New Yorkers with its unusual chill, the charming warmth emanating from the stage at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall this past Tuesday night made lucky audience members temporarily forget the pesky grip of winter’s remain.
New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), an arts organization known for its inventive song recitals, pulled together some of Broadway’s finest talents for their annual gala called Topsy-Turvy: The NYFOS Guide to Gilbert and Sullivan.
Emmy and Tony Award winning actor and director David Hyde Pierce, along with Lauren Worsham and Bryce Pinkham (both Tony nominees) from Broadway’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, joined English tenor Hal Cazalet and newcomer Abigail Levis for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of music from the princes of patter.
Artistic director Steven Blier accompanied this extraordinary cast and served as the delightful host for the evening. Christopher Reynolds joined him at the piano to assist on the often complex music. As he introduced scenes and songs selections from The Gondoliers, The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, Iolanthe, Ruddigore, Princess Ida, and The Sorcerer, Blier’s enthusiasm was palpable. Before the evening began, he shared how he listened to and quoted Gilbert and Sullivan as a young boy. Now an adult, he maintains a child-like excitement to the material and while he was thorough with his explanations, he avoided the often made mistake of excessive chatter.
Blier should be commended for the impeccable talent he gathered for the evening. Gilbert and Sullivan is by no means easy material to navigate and in the wrong hands, it can be inscrutable and deadly if not performed well. Gala members could express relief in the fact that this cast pulled it off with effortless panache. To claim a singular stand-out would be understating the remaining four players. Truly, it was the entire ensemble’s night to shine, thanks not only to their vocals and acting, but to Lee Wilkin’s nimble staging as well.
Following the performance in the stately hall, guests were ushered to the nearby 21 Club for dinner and more selections. NYFOS is entering its third decade and as long as it continues to produce fine quality programming like Tuesday night’s gala, it’s a safe bet that thirty more years are in store. While the title was Topsy-Turvy, the execution was alternatively rock solid entertainment.
For more information about NYFOS, visit http://www.nyfos.org/