From the moment Michael Feinstein burst onto the stage singing a rousing version of “Hooray for Hollywood” the audience at the Pasadena POPS concert on Saturday, August 16, 2014 knew they were in for a fabulous evening of entertainment in celebration of Hollywood. With verve and style Feinstein and his cavalcade of guest vocalists and conductors offered a sampling of music written for and inspired by Tinsel Town.
Feinstein’s penchant for offering debuts brought two first-time live performances, the Sherman brothers’ “Mary Poppins Overture” which was on the LP album, but not used in the film, and Erich Korngold’s evocative “Nora’s Theme” which he wrote for “Of Human Bondage.” Another highlight in the first half of the concert was Maureen McGovern’s sultry and soulful medley of Harold Arlen torch songs “The Man Who Got Away,” “Stormy Weather” and “Blues in the Night.”
Guest vocalist Kevin Earley and the scintillating harmonies of Down4TheCount (Jason Lingle, Colleen Keene, Christine Tavares, Carah Flahive and Gregg Haueter) made for a terrific rendition of the Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer train tune “On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe” (arrangement by Paul Weston). The second half also offered a haunting and rare glimpse into “The Windmills of My Mind” (from “The Thomas Crown Affair”) as sung by one of its lyricists, Alan Bergman.
Tap dancers Cathy Nichlolas and Bjorn Carter Burnel lit up the stage as the orchestra played “I Won’t Dance” toward the end of the program. Speaking of the orchestra, the immensely talented musicians thrilled as they played Elmer Bernstein’s “The Magnificent Seven” (think Marlboro Man), Johnny Green’s “Raintree County Overture” and under the baton of its composer Bruce Boughton, “Silverado.”
Debby Boone reprised her top-selling 1977 hit “You Light Up My Life,” Paul Williams sang his “The Muppet Movie” hit “Rainbow Connection” and in-demand contemporary composer, Michael Giacchino, conducted the score he wrote for “Up” as scenes from the popular Pixar film were projected on digital screens.
Surprise encore, “Happy” by Pherell Williams’ with lead singer Sheléa and all the guest vocalists summed up how all the concert-goers felt as they left the incomparable Los Angeles Arboretum.
The Pasadena POPS end their summer season with New York! New York! on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Joining Feinstein and the POPS will be Grammy Award winner Patti Austin, Liz Callaway (“Anastasia” and “Aladdin”) and Aaron Tveit (“Les Miserables” and “Graceland”( singing hit songs from New York musicals such as “West Side Story” and “On the Town,” along with music from “Street Scene,” “Harlem Nocturne,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Here’s to Life” and so more! Visit www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org or call 626-793-7172.