Singers are won­der­ful in pre-Valen­tine pops

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS - ERIC E. HAR­RI­SON

The Arkansas Sym­phony’s pre-Valen­tine pops con­cert this week­end is most aptly named.

“Some­thing Won­der­ful,” fo­cus­ing on the five great­est stage hits (The Sound of Mu­sic, South Pa­cific, Carousel, The King and I, Ok­la­homa!) of those great­est col­lab­o­ra­tors in mu­si­cal theater, Richard Rodgers and Os­car Ham­mer­stein II, fea­tures two fan­tas­tic singer-ac­tors and a host-his­to­rian with a par­tic­u­larly apt fam­ily con­nec­tion.

Satur­day night at Lit­tle Rock’s Robin­son Cen­ter Per­for­mance Hall, so­prano Sara Pfis­terer (whose Broad­way cred­its in­clude Chris­tine in Phan­tom of the Opera and Mag­no­lia in Harold Prince’s Show Boat) and high bari­tone Sean MacLaugh­lin (Raoul in Phan­tom on Broad­way, Peron in Evita on tour) did the heavy mu­si­cal lift­ing, with the or­ches­tra and con­duc­tor Ge­of­frey Rob­son pro­vid­ing high-qual­ity ac­com­pa­ni­ment in the lush or­ches­tral ar­range­ments.

Tip-top on the list: Pfis­terer and MacLaugh­lin prac­ti­cally blow­ing the au­di­ence away with “If I Loved You,” Pfis­terer’s pow­er­house per­for­mance of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the 118 per­cent MacLaugh­lin gave the fi­nale of Billy’s “So­lil­o­quy,” all from Carousel; and for the fi­nale, as a duet, “Climb Ev’ry Moun­tain” from The Sound of Mu­sic; MacLaugh­lin turned that show’s “Edel­weiss” into a sing-along.

They led off the sec­ond act with an­other duet usu­ally done as a solo, from South Pa­cific: Ham­mer­stein’s anti-prej­u­di­cial an­them “You’ve Got To Be Care­fully Taught.”

Billed as host, Os­car “Andy” Ham­mer­stein III, grand­son of the lyri­cist, warmly pro­vided back­ground, con­text and in­sight on the com­poser-lyri­cist team from a unique per­spec­tive.

Pfis­terer, MacLaugh­lin, Ham­mer­stein, Rob­son, Rodgers & Ham­mer­stein and the or­ches­tra re­peat the pro­gram at 3 p.m. to­day at Robin­son, West Markham Street and Broad­way. Ticket in­for­ma­tion is avail­able by call­ing (501) 666-1761, Ex­ten­sion 1, or on­line at ArkansasSym­phony. org.

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