By: Linda Amiel Burnes
The New York Pops Celebrates its 30th Birthday with a Gala Evening at Carnegie Hall on April 29th, 2013 with a Star-Studded Cast honoring Jule Styne, Frank Loesser and Danny Kaye.
The New York Pops was founded in 1983 by Skitch Henderson whose mission was to "raise awareness of our musical history, and in this spirit, this year’s 30th Birthday Gala at famed Carnegie Hall was titled, "In Concert: Celebrating Collaborations of Past, Present, and Future." The Concert was divided into three distinct parts as the musical legacy of these icons, Frank Loesser, Jule Styne and Danny Kaye were honored in song.
The charming Paul Zahn acted as host for the evening’s festivities, and showed the audience that she is also a fine musician by playing the cello. Steven Reineke, the Music Director and Conductor of the NY Pops for the past five years, had the Pops open the evening with Jule Styne’s glorious Overture from Gypsy, as he was the first composer to be honored. The Camp Broadway Kids sang a rousing medley of tunes from that show on stage and in the aisles.
The singers chosen for this special evening were some of Broadway’s best and brightest stars. Funny Girl was represented with Stephanie J. Block singing a perfect "Don’t Rain on My Parade", followed by Betsy Wolfe with "The Music That Makes Me Dance" and Laura Osnes, currently starring in Cinderella, wowed the crowd with "People." The lovely Laura Benanti’s sang the beautiful "Neverland" from Peter Pan and Leslie Uggams, who won a Tony for her role in Hallelujah, Baby! reprised the song "My Own Morning" from that show. Styne also wrote the music for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Megan Hilty, the star of TV’s hit Smash, hit a home run with her sexy rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend"
To honor Danny Kaye, a true Renaissance man, a film was shown with short clips from his many movies. Then Dena Kaye shared some personal memories of her father and even sang a little Japanese ditty that they sang together. Danny starred in the film of Hans Christian Anderson and Frank Loesser wrote the songs. Kelli O’Hara sang "Inchworm" with two children from Ronald McDonald House and Donna Murphy performed "The Ugly Duckling" to some of The Broadway Kids. Loesser was very prolific writing both music and lyrics and Guys and Dolls was one of his greatest scores. Nick Adams, Will Chase, and Max Von Essen recreated the three horseplayers from "Fugue for Tinhorns". Rob McClure, who starred in Chaplin, sang, "Once In Love With Amy" (Where’s Charlie) and as the audience joined in at the end, he said, "Now you can say that you sang at Carnegie Hall!" Liz Callaway was terrific singing a medley from How To Succeed, Kelli O’Hara’s beautiful voice rang out in "Somebody, Somewhere (Most Happy Fella) and Anthony Warlow, now starring as Daddy Warbucks in Annie, sang "Rosabella" demonstrating why he is one of Australia’s biggest stars.
Just when you thought that the Concert couldn’t get any better, the ever-youthful Marilyn Maye entered wearing a sparkling red sequined outfit and dazzled with "Joey, Joey, Joey" and "Luck Be a Lady" with Ted Firth on piano. Miss Maye has been celebrating her 85th birthday for the past month and she continues to get better with each year.
The show ended with Victor Herbert’s "Festival March" which Skitch conducted during the orchestra’s very first concert in Carnegie Hall in 1983. It was a wonderful evening that was followed by some to a reception and dinner at the Plaza. We are all looking forward to the next thirty years of great music as the NY Pops continues to bring world-class popular symphonic music to the Big Apple! Photography: Richard Termine
Photography: Stephen Sorokoff
Photography: Rob Rich