Singers are wonderful in pre-Valentine pops
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.