I love a Broadway tune more than almost anything, so I was in musical theater heaven Saturday night at the Sarasota Orchestra's Wicked Divas Pops Concert performed at the Van Wezel to a sold-out audience. Andrew Lane was the conductor and Broadway stars Alli Mauzey and Nicole Parker were the Wicked Divas - both having appeared on Broadway in, what else - Wicked.
I am normally such a traditionalist. I just adore the classical story ballets and I love the dramatic operas, but my favorites from the Orchestra are the Pops concerts and the Journey to Genius concerts. I think I just don't know enough about classical symphonies to truly enjoy the Masterworks concerts. Even though I have attended them before, I often find myself daydreaming instead of really listening to the concert. That's why I like the Journey to Genius concerts - you really learn the story behind each composer. And the Pops concerts? Well, they're just plain fun!
Both Ms. Mauzey and Ms. Parker were terrific! Their voices were each big Broadway type voices well-suited to their song selections. I thought all their costume changes were really fun and added to my enjoyment of the music. When Ms. Mauzey sang the words, "When someone needs a makeover, I tend to takeover" from the song Popular from Wicked, I thought about the female musicians in the orchestra. Though they have outstanding musical ability, I don't think even one of them was wearing any make-up whatsoever. I wanted to do a makeover on each of them! The soloists were both so pretty and polished and I thought the musicians deserved to look that way too. They are just as much entertainers as the singers are. Maybe the orchestra has rules about make-up, I don't know. Maybe they want the musicians to blend into the background. I guess I just really noticed it because, well, I notice those kinds of things, and because I like to sit up close to be fully engaged. I was sitting in the second row, so especially while listening to the selections where only the orchestra was playing, I had plenty of time to observe. I think it would be nice for a salon or Saks to take on the female musicians and do their make-up for one of their concerts. Wouldn't that be fun and a lovely thing to do?
Also, am I the only person who wonders why people think it's okay to show up to these types of events in jean shorts? For goodness sakes, show a little respect for the performers. I know all the arts groups encourage people to "come as they are" to show that cultural activities aren't only for the elite and that you don't have to wear a tux to attend, but really...jean shorts? They could at least put on a pair of khaki trousers! Frankly, I don't understand why casualness has started to rule the world. It takes just as much time and effort to look decent as it does to look schulumpy and it just makes the world a more pleasant place for everyone. (I know, I know, I'm judgmental. It's my asethetic eye. I want everything to look pretty and nice. It's such a burden sometimes!)
Each song selection was so enjoyable. I think I smiled all evening, but never more than when the orchestra played the songs of Diana Ross - Stop in the Name of Love, Touch Me in the Morning, and Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Took me back to my high school memories. Associate concertmaster, Chris Takeda did a gorgeous job with a violin solo on Over the Rainbow. Then the final song was also from Wicked, the showstopper, For Good, really had me thinking about all the friends I love who are so important to me. I love the words, "Because I knew you, I have been changed for the better." That song always brings a few tears to my eyes when I think about how each of my friends have touched me and made such a difference in my life.
A couple of funny odds and ends....Ms. Parker did a spot-on Ellen Degeneres imitation when Conductor Lane forgot the sheet music to one of her songs and he had to go off stage to retrieve it. Also, right after the first song, the bass player sitting right in front of me left the stage never to return. I wasn't the only one who noticed it. I heard a couple of different people around me mention it to each other at intermission. I hope he was okay.
The concert ended with the encore, I Will Never Leave You from Side Show. A perfectly warm and fuzzy way to end a perfectly warm and fuzzy evening. I was really glad I attended!