Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 18, 2011

Rock On! Broadway

Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
by Eric Sutter

With Kevin Rhodes conducting, the opening Springfield Symphony Pops concert of the 68th season was right on! Featuring music from the best Rock musicals of the 70's and 80's, the orchestra was challenged to perform. The "Chess" overture set the mood. The rest of the great evening followed.

Broadway musicals were changed forever in 1968 when "Hair" debuted. Soprano Sarah Uriarte Berry and tenor Ron Bohmer gave an empowered "Aquarius." A nicely done "Easy To Be Hard" featured a lovely Berry  as solo. Bohmer clowned as a long-haired hippie with his singing "Hair." Of course, they finished with a rousing "Let The Sun Shine In." Fantastic!

From "Tommy," the Symphony shined on "Overture" with that great opening electric guitar solo. Piano, horns and strings built tempo to a crescendo ending. The percussion was steamy. Berry sang "Smash The Mirror" in a Broadway shrill that wasn't quite effective with its too high pitch. Bohmer, as Tommy, was better with the thrilling "I'm Free" which resounded triumphantly.  The sound was excellent and lighting superb. A comical Rhodes joined both lead singers doing "The Time Warp" dance from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." By the end of the number, some of the audience engaged in dancing.

After intermission, the "Overture" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar" lead the second portion of the program. A solo by Berry, "I Don't Know How To Love Him," was pleasant, acknowledging why this number is a standout. Berry particularly showed her vocal skills in the slower numbers. The strings propelled "Gethsemane" with Bohmer in a heartfelt perfomance. The singers then paired up on the duet of "Seasons of Love" from "Rent." An offering from "Little Shop Of Horrors" was fun. "Godspell" provided a magnificent volley of music that the audience sang along to -- especially "Day By Day." Orchestra and vocalists reprised "Let The Sunshine In" with much singing and dancing. Rebuilding Springfield through the the arts never felt better.