MILWAUKEE — One doesn’t so much tell Broadway history as sing and play it.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and its principal pops conductor, Marvin Hamlisch, took a musical jog through a century of Broadway history Friday evening. The program, “Marvin Does Broadway,” began with a George M. Cohan medley and ended with tunes from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera,” hitting some of Broadway’s biggest shows in between.
Hamlisch and the orchestra played several orchestral medleys and were joined by soprano Christiane Noll and baritone Doug LaBrecque for individual tunes. Noll and LaBrecque, both of whom have significant Broadway histories of their own, gave earnest, beautiful renditions of tunes from Victor Herbert’s operetta “The Student Prince” and Jerome Kern’s “Show Boat.”
The program progressed chronologically, hitting the mid-1960s just before intermission. In the second half, LaBrecque sang a character-filled “Mr. Cellophane,” from “Chicago,” and Noll offered a touchingly introspective “Send in the Clowns,” from “A Little Night Music.” LaBrecque’s take on “Bring Him Home” was spot-on.
Hamlisch led a medley from his own “A Chorus Line,” and moved to the piano several times during the evening.
After bantering with a family sitting near the stage, Hamlisch invited the family backstage with the promise of Brewers tickets — as in, thanks to the parents for bringing kids to the concert and to the kids for staying engaged throughout the program.
Noll, LaBrecque, Hamlisch and the orchestra ended the evening with an encore of the touching song, “The Prayer.”