After the glitz of an awards show fades, what remains for the winners amounts to more than just dry ink in the annals of entertainment history. Especially if you’re a song. Sarasota Orchestra’s Pops concert The Envelope Please (March 4-5) features a program glowing with musical numbers that took home the entertainment world’s biggest prizes. The years have piled high since some of these tunes’ first hearings, but whether it’s the playful mystique of the Pink Panther theme or the irresistibly lovely melody of “Moon River,” this Pops concert’s program has proven powerful enough to resonate through the decades.
Take, for example, Meredith Willson’s artistic output for The Music Man, which opens the concert with the giddy fanfare of “Seventy-Six Trombones.” Willson’s music and lyrics enchanted Broadway when the musical opened in 1957. The original production of The Music Man won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the cast recording won the first-ever Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. After this impressive start, the 1962 film adaptation clinched the Oscar for Best Musical Score. Then in 2003, The Music Man nearly claimed the legendary “EGOT” status with a made-for-TV version nominated for five Emmys.
“The Music Man is very much a period piece, very clearly set in River City, Iowa, in the early 20th century. But the ideals and values are timeless,” says Christopher Confessore, who conducts Sarasota Orchestra in the concert. “There’s the little boy who's trying to fit in, the traveling hero who can’t find what he’s looking for, the heroine waiting for her knight in shining armor, and so forth. These are people that we recognize and stories we relate to today.”
We can also credit the voices who keep these award-winning songs fresh and vibrant today, and for The Envelope Please, Sarasota Orchestra will be joined by a trio of Broadway’s very best: Doug LaBrecque, Mamie Parris, and Lisa Vroman.
“I've worked with each of these three singers before, and they have significant stage credits,” Confessore says. Vroman and LaBrecque have garnered critical praise for starring roles in The Phantom of the Opera on and off Broadway’s stages. In the Broadway revival of Cats, Parris brought the house down with her show-stopping performances as Grizabella.
“When an orchestra accompanies a great singer in anything, it's a fun experience,” Confessore says. “But when you get to accompany someone in their signature song—like in the case of Mamie Parris and ‘Memory,’ she lived that role eight shows a week for more than a year. These artists embody the song.”
Several selections from The Envelope Please earned top honors on the strength of their music alone—no crooners required! Confessore names the score from the 1971 film version of Fiddler on the Roof as a personal favorite from the program.
“Before Jaws, Star Wars, E. T., or Schindler’s List, John Williams won an Academy Award for his work scoring Fiddler on the Roof,” Confessore says. “What he does with the solo violin is incredible, and it will certainly be one of the orchestral highlights of the concert.”
While many of us at the moment crave nostalgia, audiences at The Envelope Please won’t be restricted to music that was born 50-plus years ago. Selections from The Lion King, Wicked, and the soul-stirring anthem “You Raise Me Up” all make appearances on this delightfully eclectic program. What’s the secret sauce that makes this music some of the most winning (literally) that we’ve ever heard? You’ll have to come to the concert to sample it yourself.
To learn more and purchase tickets to Pops: The Envelope Please, visit Sarasota Orchestra’s website, or call the Box Office at 941-953-3434. All programs and featured artists are subject to change.