What better way to spend a Saturday evening then to travel through time with a Broadway Tribute soundtrack? Those who attended the Twisted Desert Music presentation of “A Tribute to Broadway” journeyed through 70 years of familiar, playful, important, and sometimes haunting show tunes that represented nearly two centuries of history.
Under the musical direction of Michelle Reid, and featuring the Sage Sound Singers with some very special guests, the music explored the 1815 June Rebellion in Paris told in Les Miserables, a 1930s Depression-era African-American Charleston neighbourhood with a haunting rendition of “Summertime” from the musical Porgy and Bess, World War II in South Pacific, the 1950s working-class youth subculture known as Greasers, and so much more.
Throughout the performance my mind wondered how many different adjectives I could use that said “Outstanding!” To my relief there are many.
Emcee Barbara Roden began the evening by asking how many audience members had been to a Sage Sound Singers concert, and the majority of hands were held high. Traditional concerts generally see the choir dressed in black, music binders in hand, displaying excellent posture in carefully arranged positions.
Roden said that on Broadway you “go big or go home”, and so boldly and beautifully they did. After the opening song (“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”), the audience began the wild applause and cheering that lasted for the rest of the evening.
Michelle Reid sings “Memory” from Cats. Photo by Christopher Roden.
Our neighbours and friends who performed for us are blessed with a broad array of talents. The multi-octave vocal ranges of Theresa Takacs and Michelle Reid are worthy of Carnegie Hall, and the soulful bass displayed by Mark Armstrong in “Ol’ Man River” brought us back to the turn of the last century.
Soloist Sharon Ambler sang with emotion and a presence that was humbling. The passion of Don Hays’ performance as Raoul from “Phantom of the Opera” was bittersweet.
What was clear to the audience was that everyone on stage was thoroughly enjoying themselves, and our enthusiasm for their performance was energizing. Conductor Carmen Ranta, pianist Dimiter Terziev, and percussionist Kirk Watson were instrumental in creating the magic of the evening.
While the individual performances were inspired, the ensemble offerings were, in my view, the best. I was moved to tears several times throughout the evening. The perfect harmony of “They Call the Wind Mariah” was the highlight of my evening, and recognition must be given to those who choose to stand in the background but who add so much to the richness of the music.
In closing, I want to express my appreciation to everyone involved for making the “Tribute to Broadway” concert such a success.
Since my family moved to Ashcroft in 2013, we have attended many concerts, plays, art exhibits, and celebrations. We are blessed to have so many dedicated men, women, and children in our community who choose to share their talents and time with us.
Members of Krush Dance Company joined the singers for the final number, “And All That Jazz”. Photo by Christopher Roden.