A Grand Night For Singing – Review by Rick Young

A Grand Night for Singing…Indeed! 

Talk about truth in advertising!

Saturday night’s concert by London’s The Voices of Broadway Show Choir at Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church was billed as A Grand Night for Singing. At the end of the two hour concert, it was apparent to all present that the popular community choir had delivered the goods – in spades.

Under the exuberant direction of its Artistic/Musical Director, Julie Pietrangelo, the 26 member choir treated the Sold Out audience to almost two hours of Broadway favourites, ranging from the likes of Nice Work If You Can Get It by George and Ira Gershwin to The Who’s Peter Townshend’s rock opera Tommy.

Following the lead of their animated director, choir members smiled, clapped their hands, gyrated and danced their way through the evening’s repertoire, providing plenty of pizzazz and volume when needed as displayed in Seventy-Six Trombones from The Music Man and subtle nuance as in the ballad For Good from Wicked with equal aplomb.

The sterling four piece band, anchored by the choir’s Assistant Musical Director, pianist Yolanda Postma, and featuring Jim Smythe on bass, Greg Mainprize on drums and percussion, and Chris Levesque on guitar, provided the necessary instrumental accompaniment in a most competent manner, never overpowering the soloists and choir. Given the opportunity to showcase their talents on the driving rock tune, Pinball Wizard, the band did not disappoint, with guitarist Levesque hitting all the necessary  power chords.

broadway singersDecked out in sharp red and black attire, The Voices of Broadway Show Choir features some very fine soloists. Notable this evening were bass Brent Leckie who delivered an emotional rendering of Gonna Build a Mountain, Lauren McLaughlin and Rebecca Surman who performed a beautiful duet on a ballad from Wicked, and Joseph Alfano on Pinball Wizard. Abe Kelledjian delivered a fine sales pitch as “Professor” Harold Hill from The Music Man. Soloists walked to the riser in front of the stage when called upon.

But, to be sure, it is as an ensemble where the choir really shines. This was apparent throughout the night and amply demonstrated in the Medley from the ever-popular Hair for which choir members donned the prerequisite wigs, head-bands and beads and danced their way through tunes like Aquarius, Let the Sunshine In, Good Morning Starshine, and the show’s title tune.

It was also evident in two tunes from Grease, where choir members had the opportunity to showcase their 1950s do-wop and hand-jive abilities in the tunes We Go Together and Born to Hand Jive.

If body language alone is any gauge, it is evident that the members of The Voices of Broadway Show Choir are having fun and genuinely enjoy performing for their audience. The engagement of the choir is contagious and audience participation was encouraged during the concert.

Kudos to Choreographer, Lara Lamour, and Dance Captain, Julie Wilson, for preparing the numerous dance numbers performed by choir members during numbers like The Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and selections from Mamma Mia!, including Dancing Queen.

Props are part and parcel of the choir’s performance and a young stage assistant was kept busy all night providing the Director and choir members with various hats, vests, head-gear of all styles and sizes, and actual musical instruments, as was the case of The Music Man.

broadway singersMaster of Ceremonies, Joaquin Barrientos, provided sufficient background information about each performance piece in a straight-forward, unobtrusive manner, and the intimate confines of historic Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church were the ideal setting for the concert.

Formed in September 2013, The Voices of Broadway Show Choir is fast becoming a must-see, critically acclaimed group on the London arts calendar.

The choir is always on the look-out for new members and interested individuals can arrange an audition through the choir’s website.

The Voices of Broadway Show Choir closes out its 2014/2015 season with two performances of Broadway Blockbusters on Saturday, May 30 at Wolf Performance Hall.

Don’t miss it!

Readers can follow the choir’s events and news at its website http://thevoicesofbroadway.com/ and Facebook page.

Rick Young is a London freelance writer whose work has been published in local, regional and national print and online publications. He was the Managing Editor, Publisher and founder of The Beat Magazine, an independent print and online arts magazine in London, Ontario, from 2009 to 2014.