George Gershwin's timeless music comes to life as Light Opera Works presets Gershwin's Greatest Hits at the Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston now through October 13. This masterful production of treasures from the American Songbook combines the outstanding vocals of Sophie Grimm, Sara Kelly, David Schlumpf, Colette Todd and Martin Woods in a delightful romp through three decades of glorious tunes. George Gershwin took Broadway by storm in the 1920s and 30s, sold out concert halls and opera halls, while he defined an era of enthusiastic innocence.
Told in a story-like fashion, the ensemble performs Gershwin's classic, "Summertime" from Porgy & Bess, "Embraceable You," "Someone to Watch Over Me," I Got Rhythm," "S'Wonderful and "Strike up the Band" accompanied by a trio of piano, bass and drums. Music Director and Conductor Valerie Maze is take-the-house-down amazing, especially when she gets to perform solo in "Rhapsody in Blue" for the opening of Act 2. Then the performers come out in more classic attire - tuxedos and beautiful ball gowns.
Colette Todd sells every song with passion and power. Talented Sophie Grimm is expressive and sultry, and delights the audience with her trumpet solo. The lovely Sarah Lynn Kelly is an elegant soprano, while the versatile David Schlumpf continues to reach new fans. But the deep vocals of Martin Woods steals the show. Together. this ensemble captures the essence of Gershwin's heart and soul.
With such upbeat music and melody, it's easy to get swept up in the optimistic lyrics of a gentler time in America. When they sang, "Love is Sweeping the Country," the audience couldn't help but think we could sure use a little bit of that now with the government on shutdown.
One hundred and fifty years after Gershwin wrote his first song, his legacy lives on. In Gershwin's world, "Love is here to stay." Don't miss this enchanting evening!
This is the third show in the season, which will conclude with Annie Get Your Gun, December 21-31, also starring the incomparable Colette Todd. For tickets or more information, go to www.lightoperaworks.com or call 847-920-5360.