Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 10, 2024

REVIEW: Boston Pops Orchestra, "Broadway Today! Broadway’s Modern Masters"

Boston Pops Orchestra, Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
July 6, 2024
by Michael J. Moran

Joan Tower
One special joy of Tanglewood is the free short “Prelude” concerts which precede many weekend evening concerts. Tonight’s “Prelude” in the Linde Center’s bright and airy Studio E featured chamber music by three composers, played by 15 fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center. Spry-looking, 88-year-old Joan Tower cheerfully announced, “I’m still alive!,” in introducing her effervescent 15-minute 2020 string quintet “Purple Rain.”

Next came George Walker’s colorful two-movement 1999 woodwind quintet “Wind Set.” The program closed with the young Beethoven’s energetic 1796 quintet for piano and winds. All three pieces received polished and invigorating performances.

The main event was a semi-staged concert in the Koussevitzky Music Shed of highlights from 11 Broadway musicals of the 21st century, written by nine composers and/or lyricists, played in sumptuous arrangements by the full Boston Pops Orchestra under Keith Lockhart, and sung by six current Broadway stars. The shows, their creators, and the singers included many Tony Award recipients.  

An opening suite from Adam Guettel’s “The Light in the Piazza” featured a plush overture, Scarlett Strallen’s ravishing take on the stirring title song, and Victoria Clark’s poignant recreation of her Tony-winning role in the heartrending “Fable.” Bryce Pinkham revisited his starring title performance in Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” with a winsome “Foolish to Think” and a hilarious “Poison in My Pocket.”

Mandy Gonzalez, Darius de Haas, and Joshua Henry were all impressive in excerpts from David Yazbek’s “The Band’s Visit.” Pinkham sang a powerful “You Will Be Found” from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s “Dear Evan Hansen.” A Latin-flavored orchestral “In the Club” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” preceded Henry, Strallen, and Pinkham in three piercing selections from Jason Robert Brown’s “Parade.”
Photo by Hilary Scott

Gonzalez was as sensational in “Our Lady of the Underground” from Anais Mitchell’s “Hadestown” as de Haas was mesmerizing in “Memory Song” from Michael R. Jackson’s “A Strange Loop.” Clark movingly reprised her Tony-winning title role in two songs from Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Kimberly Akimbo.”

She completed her evening star turn as King George III in Miranda’s blockbuster “Hamilton,” turning the chorus of “You’ll Be Back” into a riotous crowd singalong; Henry was a forceful Aaron Burr in “The Room Where It Happened.” The full cast ended on a hopeful note with a rousing “Wait ‘til You See What’s Next” from Brown’s “Prince of Broadway.”

Subtle direction by the evening’s creator, Broadway star and frequent Pops collaborator Jason Danieley, and music supervision by Georgia Stitt further enhanced this memorable musical event.