‘Musical Theatre Gala – Broadway to West End’ was entertaining.
What better way to appreciate some of the theatre’s most well-known and well-loved melodies than through the talents of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in their most recent masterpiece ‘Musical Theatre Gala – Broadway to West End’. A dimly lit and smoky concert hall set the stage with ambience reminiscent of a Broadway show. The orchestra opened abruptly with the overture from ‘Candide’, dynamic and captivating. The string section effortlessly transitioned from loud to soft notes, which made them sound as though they were disappearing into the distance.
This piece was followed by the classic ‘West Side Story’ duet ‘Tonight’, where the audience was introduced to the concert’s guest singers, Simon Gleeson and Lorina Gore. As their final notes rang out, audience members were beginning to spy a man in a cape assuming his position at the organ that adorns the Concert Hall. Excitement gathered as the lighting turned red and the first dissonant chords of the overture from ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ sounded. It was so wonderful to hear the organ, often merely decoration showcased in such an orchestration. Andrej Kouznetsov handled the mammoth instrument expertly, and his impression of the Phantom was great. As he was joined by the resounding strings and the rest of the orchestra, the overture swelled and gained momentum until it abruptly finished. Immediately, church bells sounded, heralding the next piece, ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’, also from ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. This was a wonderful way to transition between the two pieces without losing momentum. Gore handled the song well and ended to triumphant applause.
Next, the audience was introduced to a special guest singer, one of two students from The Conservatorium of Music. Hanlon Innocent performed ‘Out There’ from ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. Upon hearing the first few notes of the song, it was clear Innocent is a rising star. His voice had a beautiful timbre that effortlessly handled notes both soft and large, and his acting ability brought tenderness to the piece. Once again, the lighting added to the spectacle as patterns and shapes danced along the walls of the Concert Hall. Immense applause followed what could only be described as a triumphant performance.
Following this, the second student from The Conservatorium of Music, Nina Lippmann, performed ‘Let It Go’ from ‘Frozen’. This challenging piece was handled well by the young singer. She returned later in the night to sing another ambitious piece, ‘Defying Gravity’ from ‘Wicked’. Though there were a few wobbles in the middle of the song, Lippmann was able to rescue it and ended well.
The orchestra then took back the spotlight to perform ‘The Carousel Waltz’ from ‘Carousel’. The intricacies of the song were not swallowed up by the orchestra but instead, every note radiated, conjuring images of the fairground.
Other notable pieces include ‘Anthem’ from ‘Chess’. The orchestra complemented Gleeson’s handling of the song skilfully, dancing alongside his voice. The soulfulness and passion imbued by Gleeson made this piece one of the most memorable of the night. The softness of the verses, plus the swelling and confident final note moved the audience.
Conductor Guy Noble competently conducted such a dynamic array of musical theatre favourites. However, at times the pieces seemed rushed and were at a faster tempo than they were originally performed. It would have been nicer to have the songs breathe so the audience could appreciate each note and the talented musicians performing them.
Overall, ‘Musical Theatre Gala – Broadway to West End’ was an enjoyable concert that showcased some of the most well-loved musical theatre pieces. It was a treat to hear both experienced and up-and-coming Australian singers in a show that celebrated everything truly great about musical theatre.
For more information on Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming season, visit the QSO website here.
Photography by Peter Wallis.