The Very,Very Best of Broadway @ BlackCreek Festival

TORONTO — Rexall Centre: It was a laugh-till-you-cry show, and just when you thought it doesn’t get any better than this, it did.  It was like Raúl Esparza standing on the lid of the Steinway belting out “Defying Gravity” (Wicked, 2003) that brought the audience screaming to their feet, and you wonder ‘how can anybody follow this?’

And Brian Stokes Mitchell kind of slides onto the stage wearing a big, sheepish grin, his palms turned up in a gesture of helplessness, and the orchestra softly intones the opening bars of “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha (1965) and you know we’ve got lift-off—again. And, as it turns out, again and again.

Audra McDonald

How funny was M.C. Martin (he can really sing) Short? He was so funny he got the symphony orchestra string section to laugh along with the audience. Ever-outrageous, Short ambushed Jane Krakowski with a bend-over-backwards kiss as she came on to vamp her way through Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”(1938). Ms. Krakowski ‘brought it down a bit’ and tenderly by announcing she was a new ‘older’ mother nursing her infant (at the hotel), as lead-in to her song “A Quiet Thing” from Flora The Red Menace (1965).

Raul Esparza

Martin Short and Raúl Esparza came from backstage and stood in the side aisle to watch Jane’s number. This was a very human moment in a show that demonstrates and confirms conductor Marvin Hamlisch’s stated belief “in the power of music to bring all people together.”

Jane Krakowski

The Very, Very Best of Broadway is bigger-than-life performances of a take-no-prisoners set-list. Brian Stokes Mitchell, beaming charisma, wowed the older ladies in the audience with the deep notes of his cover of Ezio Pinza’s “Some Enchanted Evening,” from South Pacific (1949). Audra McDonald set aloft “Summertime” (Gershwin/DuBose, Porgy and Bess, 1935) with her buoyant soprano. Raúl Esparza, electric and tender, brought nostalgia up-to-date with the 1967 Franky Valli hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” currently in the Crewe and Gaudio hit Jersey Boys. Brian Stokes Mitchell’s second tribute to South Pacific and Ezio Pinza, “One Dream In My Heart,” actually got a trio of sixty-year-old ladies in the next row weeping and wiping, but these same ladies got happy the next moment singing along with Audra McDonald on Loesser and Lowe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night,” from My Fair Lady.

 

Martin Short

 

The centre-piece of the evening was the duet “On the Wheels of a Dream” by Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell, the stars of Ragtime at it’s world première in Toronto 13 years ago. They publicly acknowledged that Toronto impresario Garth Drabinsky (who was in the audience) is the man responsible for their collaboration both then and now.

Brian Stokes Mitchell

Their performance was a swirl of whipped-cream on the evening’s cake. Raúl Esparza added a heart-sized cherry with his no-holds– barred “Somewhere (There’s a Place for Us)” from the Bernstein/Sondheim classic West Side Story, 1957.

Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell

Songs like “Somewhere”, and Jerry Herman’s “Hello Dolly”(1969) sung by the amazing BlackCreek Festival choir , tunes you know the melody of and most of the words to through the power of Broadway, inspire the audience to express their joy by singing along quietly inside (together), or by raising up their voices to sing out loud, together .

Jane Krakowski and Marvin Hamlisch

It’s a great moment when you melt with others into a flow of mutual appreciation. And when the evening ends with the entire cast and audience on their feet for “Give My Regards to Broadway,” that IS as good as it gets.

Marvin Hamlisch

Black Creek Festival– Bows

 Watch: Raul Esparza

 

 

Source: Stanley Fefferman


 

2 comments

  1. I am a huge Tennis Fan from Toronto. The Rexall Centre is like my second home during tennis season.
    It was great to see the ‘conversion’ of this place into a Big Stage for some fantastic Music. Sorry that the Festival is not going to happen during 2012, but THANK YOU for the great time. Such beautiful music and such talented performers. I hope that this event will comeback in the near future.

    In the mean time, here is a link to buy tickets for the 2012 Tennis season. I will see you there!
    And thank you for great post. Au-revoir mes amis! Anne-Marie

    GO TENNIS!: SEE SCHEDULE FOR 2012 TENNIS AT REXALL CENTRE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Upload Files

You can include images or videos in your comment by inserting the [img] tag from below. You can upload as many images as you like and they will all be added to your comment. To upload YouTube or Vimeo videos, just include a link to the video within your comment.