From Broadway With Love Review by Rick Young

“From Broadway with Love delightful”

While the weather outside was somewhat dreadful, the music inside historic Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church last Saturday was delightful – thanks to one of London’s most ambitious and energetic community choirs, The Voices of Broadway Show Choir.

20160116-IMG_9255Conducted by its ever exuberant Artistic/Musical Director, Julie Pietrangelo (does she ever stop moving?), the 30-member choir guided a Sold Out house through a wide variety of well known standards from The Great White Way under the banner From Broadway with Love. It may have been a little too early to think about Valentine’s Day, but there definitely was lots of love in the air.

The choir has quickly gained a reputation for doing the unexpected and Saturday’s concert was no exception. Entering the hall from the back of the room, choir members slowly made their way to front as in a wedding procession for the opening number Love Changes Everything from the show Aspects of Love. It was a nice touch and set the tone for the rest of the performance.

Selected tunes from Avenue Q, Miss Saigon, and West Side Story followed. For the latter, several female choristers moved in front of the group to dance to I Feel Pretty, while soloists came to the forefront to perform. A couple also danced to Cole Porter’s It’s De-Lovely from Anything Goes.

As narrator, Joaquin Barrientos, quipped during his Introductory Remarks, “It’s nearly impossible to keep the Voices still during a performance!”

Soloist Matt Green was most impressive as the Beast singing If I Can’t Love Her from Beauty and the Beast: A New Musical.

Several male and female choristers brandished umbrellas for the ubiquitous Singin’ In The Rain from the show of the same name, and Act 1 ended with the hilarious Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Spamalot with the choir’s eight male members singing and acting out the piece in the forefront. The rest of the choir provided some solid kazoo backing.

It’s obvious that AD/MD Pietrangelo selects arrangements with the special needs and talents of her charges in mind, producing a winning combination. While many other choirs tend to stand static 20160116-IMG_9047while singing, VOB members are encouraged to dance, gyrate and use facial and hand gestures to entertain the audience.

Act 2 picked right up where the first one left off with a beautiful Medley from the show Once featuring soloist Caitlin Villeneuve and violinists Miranda and Courtney Postma.

The audience was treated to some Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with the enduring Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You from Jersey Boys, while soloist Brent Leckie stepped to the forefront for On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, which was followed by Get Me to The Church On Time.

Kudos to soloist Julie Wilson for her flawless articulation in the very fast-paced Getting Married Today from Company in which she donned a “wedding dress” and “acted out” the piece with the aid of a headset microphone.

As an aside, the choir may want to investigate the increased use of headsets for all of its soloists in future concerts.

The props came back out in the form of feather boas as the female choristers formed a chorus line for the production number made famous by Marilyn Monroe, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, featuring soloist Katie Grivich.

20160116-IMG_9061The men donned sailors’ caps and took centre stage with a rousing and humorous rendition of Rogers and Hammerstein’s There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame from the show South Pacific.

The afternoon performance came to close with a couple of crowd pleasers – Can’t Help Falling in Love from All Shook Up during which real-life married couple Julie Wilson and Joaquin Barrientos took to the dance floor to the audience’s delight. It was followed by the upbeat Elvis standard Burnin’ Love.

After a spirited standing ovation, the entire choir took to the dance floor for a hand-clapping cover of You’re the One That I Want from the popular show Grease.

As usual, the choir was accompanied by its very competent band consisting of Yolanda Postma on piano, Jim Smythe on bass, John Kenny on guitar, and Greg Mainprize on drums. Choreographer, Lara Lamour, provided the dance steps and routines for the concert.

After the performance, the choir and its conductor were swamped by family, friends and appreciative audience members. It was only fitting for such a great, uplifting concert!

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