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July 22, 2009

Lady Luck Smiles on Ogunquit ‘Guys and Dolls’

Delicious re-creation of Tony Award-winning 1992 Broadway revival stars Richard Kind, Liz Larsen, Glory Crampton and Christian Hoff at the famed Maine summer playhouse

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These are words the Ogunquit Playhouse has obviously chosen to live by in staging its delightfully earnest re-creation of the 1992 Tony Award-winning revival of the classic American musical Guys and Dolls. Guys and DollsUnlike the much-maligned – and short-lived – Broadway version that Des McAnuff helmed this past spring, the Ogunquit production wisely relies on good old-fashioned faith in the material to elicit refreshingly original performances that crackle and shine.

Directed by Steven Beckler, the 1992 production supervisor under Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, this Guys and Dolls bursts with color and light, energetically bringing to life Damon Runyon’s fabled Times Square denizens – gamblers, chorus girls, mobsters and evangelists – all exquisitely coiffed and costumed in circa 1950 fantasy comic book style. Brawny guys’ guys spew Swerling and Burrows’ faux-elegant low-brow vernacular with a natural ease and, along with their various dolls and the sincere missionaries who are doggedly out to save their souls, strike a perfect balance between exaggerated cartoon caricature stereotypes and the living, breathing imperfect people whose hearts all yearn for something bigger underneath.

In the lead roles, a quartet of bona fide Broadway theater professionals merrily work their way through the show’s animated book and beautifully interwoven jazz-inflected score. Richard Kind and Liz LarsenRichard Kind of TV’s Spin City and Mad About You is a thoroughly endearing Nathan Detroit, the hangdog “entrepreneur” who tries desperately to keep his long-suffering fiancée of 14 years Miss Adelaide (the fabulous Liz Larsen) at bay while coming up with the bankroll and the hideaway to operate his “oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York.” His $1000 bet with the suave tough-guy Sky Masterson (a rather bland Christian Hoff who won a Tony Award for his work as bad boy Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys) sets in motion Sky’s rakish attempt to charm the buttoned up missionary Sarah Brown (a lovely and spunky Glory Crampton) into traveling to Havana with him for dinner. A few broken promises and a number of dulce de leches later, and love proves to be a stronger addiction than either vice or virtue – for either couple.

Frank Loesser’s intoxicating character-driven score filled with unforgettable words and music sounds fresh and new here, delivered with truth, vim and vigor by a vocally gifted cast that, for the most part, is perfectly suited to their roles. Music director Ken Clifton’s swinging seven-piece orchestra also effortlessly shifts from the smooth romantic tones of Loesser’s love ballads to the pulsating masculine rhythms that spring from the underbelly of a bygone Broadway and 42nd Street. The richly harmonic gambler’s hymn “The Oldest Established” and the rollicking revivalist gospel “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” articulate the sublime paradox of gambling as religion magnificently.

To read my complete review at BroadwayWorld.com, click here.

PHOTOS: Richard Kind as Nathan Detroit, Liz Larsen as Miss Adelaide, Christian Hoff as Sky Masterson and Glory Crampton as Sarah Brown; Richard Kind and Liz Larsen

July 16, 2009

“Red Hot Lovers” a Blast from the Past

Gloucester Stage production of Neil Simon’s ’60s sex farce holds up surprisingly well due to sincere performances and smart direction

Recapturing the culture of the late 1960s without seeming shallow or cartoonish can be a tricky proposition in the theater. Elaine and BarneyOften sets and costumes replicate the overdone psychedelic sensibilities of Laugh-In while actors bury real feelings beneath contrived posturing.

Not so with Gloucester Stage’s delightful production of Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Neil Simon’s surprisingly timeless Manhattan comedy that sets the woes of mid-life crisis against the pressures of the Sexual Revolution. Here subtle references in costuming, props, hair and set pieces suggest but don’t exploit the period while natural and unforced comedic performances focus attention on the warm and wistful heart beating beneath Simon’s caustic jabs.

Lovers follows the trio of attempts that long-married seafood restaurant owner Barney makes at sampling from the banquet of free love. Faithful for 28 years, this rather dull but sincere creature of habit suddenly feels that the hot new age of promiscuity is passing him by. Enter a feisty fish-craving patron named Elaine, a California actress and drama queen named Bobbi, and his wife’s uptight but sexually frustrated best friend Jeanette and Barney embarks on a rollercoaster ride of unfulfilled sexual liaisons.

As the new-to-philandering nebbish Barney, Ken Baltin is as sympathetic as a cheater can be, showing that what he really wants from his afternoon trysts – in his absent mother’s plastic-wrapped apartment – is a little spice and a lot of human connection. He’s your basic insecure Everyman, a good and loving husband whose fear of missing out on his last chance at excitement turns him into a fumbling, bumbling, lothario wannabe. Baltin’s Barney is neither evil nor misunderstood. He’s just a little confused and a lot inept when it comes to the new sexuality.

Director David Zoffoli has cleverly chosen to cast just one actress to play all three “other women.” In so doing, he has made their collective journeys much more comical but also more sincere. Chameleon-like stage stalwart Karen MacDonald Barney and Bobbimorphs effortlessly from one imperfect lover to another. Her Elaine is brash, crude, and unapologetic, a sexually aggressive married woman whose callous promiscuity can’t quite hide some unnamed deeper wound. As Bobbi, MacDonald is a slightly airheaded new age chatterbox who slowly and deliciously descends from endearingly goofy to frighteningly paranoid, telling more and more bizarre stories about “psycho” boyfriends from her past. Then as the disguise-wearing, purse-clutching, morosely neurotic housewife Jeanette, she drives Baltin’s Barney to distraction until they finally both realize what they have been looking for all along.

Baltin and MacDonald’s honest characterizations, easy comic timing, and palpable tension and chemistry combine with Zoffoli’s understated direction to make Last of the Red Hot Lovers a winner. They avoid the pitfalls of playing Simon like stand-up and instead let the jokes flow naturally. With warmth and wisdom, Gloucester Stage has succeeded in dusting off a relic, giving what could be seen as a tired piece of ’60s nostalgia a fresh layer of contemporary polish.

PHOTOS by Shawn Henry: Karen MacDonald as Elaine and Ken Baltin as Barney; Ken Baltin and Karen MacDonald as Bobbi

July 02, 2009

“Let’s Dance” Lets Down in Pops’ Season Finale

Guest conductor Erich Kunzel brings the Boston Pops to a lackluster finish with uninspired performances of classic Big Band tunes

Erich KunzelThe final concert of the Boston Pops’ 124th season presented on Sunday, June 21, was a bit out of step with the stellar evenings that have preceded it this spring, despite its promise to get the joint jumpin’ with a program of Big Band music called Let’s Dance. Led by guest conductor Erich Kunzel, maestro of the Cincinnati Pops, the orchestra sounded a bit lackluster performing arrangements geared more toward the dance floor than the concert hall.

The opening number did get the audience “In the Mood” with great alto sax and trumpet solos that harked back to the days of Glenn Miller and his band’s unmistakable sound. A lazy western-inflected “Sentimental Journey” followed with strings sweetly counterbalancing Darren Acosta’s soft trombone. “Let’s Dance” then evoked Benny Goodman with an effortless clarinet riff. The night seemed to be in full swing for everyone – those who were dancing on their feet as well as those choosing to bounce along in their seats.

A 21-year-old crooner from Cincinnati, Jefferey Berger, then came out and did his best to sell songs trademarked by Sinatra. However, Berger’s youth, generic sound, and sometimes gravelly vocal quality made us wish we were hearing the smooth, rich, distinct tones of the original – or even Michael Feinstein who performed on Friday and Saturday with the Pops in The Sinatra Project.

Berger’s first two songs were pleasant enough. He managed to sound a bit like Frankie Avalon in his renditions of “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Summer Wind.” But “New York, New York” was just a poor choice all around, first because it’s Boston, and second because he was simply weak by comparison. His return to end the first half of the program with “Mack the Knife” was similarly burdened. Now he was competing not only with Sinatra but with Bobby Darrin’s iconic version, as well. The youthful Berger just didn’t measure up.

Jefferey BergerAs the evening went along, most of the dance tunes began to sound somewhat alike. “Take the A Train,” “Caravan,” and “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” were jazzy fun, and “String of Pearls” was a creamy romantic mood piece. But “Let Yourself Go,” an Al Hirt-less “Java,” and “One O’Clock Jump” came across as merely loud and undifferentiated. A jiving “Sing Sing Sing” would have helped liven things up considerably. The orchestra did build to a nice finish with three very different interpretations, however: a bouncy “Get Happy” that injected an airy string mix into the horns, an unusual instrumental round of “Brother John” (Frere Jacques), and the vibrant Dixieland celebration, “Darktown Strutters Ball.” Here clarinet and trombone were featured to great effect.

Berger returned in the middle of the second half to sing “Nice ’n’ Easy” – which wasn’t – “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “Night and Day,” all once again suffering by comparison to the likes of Sinatra, Harry Connick, Jr. or Michael Bublé. His encore of “My Way” was unfortunately the worst choice of the night. At 21, he has none of the weight of the world required to make this song the anthem of a triumphant survivor. The orchestra followed with their own encore, a rousing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” that had the audience jitterbugging out the door.

The Boston Pops will of course be back for the annual Fourth (and third) of July concerts on the Esplanade. They will also make several appearances at Tanglewood this summer, most notably in concerts with Chris Botti on August 7 and James Taylor (with John Williams conducting) on August 30 for the season finale. On October 2 they return to Symphony Hall collaborating with everybody’s “favorite piano-rocking, Shatner-collaborating, sailor-mouthed goofball” Ben Folds.

For more information, visit www.bso.org.

PHOTOS: Erich Kunzel and Jefferey Berger

Boston Pops: A Grand Night for Singing

Tony Award Winner Victoria Clark and Vocal Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center perform “A Richard Rodgers Celebration” with the Boston Pops

Tony Award winner Victoria Clark took to the concert stage this week, joining Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, along with Vocal Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, in A Richard Rodgers Celebration. The first half of the program was devoted to the music of Rodgers and Hart including songs from Babes in Arms, I Married an Angel, The Boys from Syracuse, and A Connecticut Yankee. Act II was filled with showstoppers from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s numerous Broadway hits – Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, The King and I, South Pacific, and Carousel.

Victoria ClarkThe evening played to Clark’s considerable strengths as an actress, setting her free from the traditional concert format and letting her move about the stage in character. Singing effortlessly and seeming completely at ease, Clark delivered penetrating renditions of her more somber numbers and frolicked through several lighter selections that showed off delightful comic skills.

She asserted her understated power and vocal control right from the opening number, holding the one note in Johnny One Note so long that Maestro Lockhart pointed to his watch as if to say, “We haven’t got all night.” She was equally playful as Ado Annie singing “I Cain’t Say No” from Oklahoma! and as Nellie Forbush with “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair” from South Pacific.

Clark’s best numbers were polar opposites in tone – Rodgers and Hart’s whimsical “To Keep My Love Alive” from A Connecticut Yankee and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s achingly ironic “The Gentleman Is a Dope” from Allegro. In the former Clark cheerfully, sweetly, and a little maniacally ran through the many ways in which she killed her many husbands – before they had a chance to kill her love with their many failings. In the latter, she expressed the piercing vulnerability of a woman in love with a man incapable of appreciating the joy he could have with her. In both songs Clark’s subtle restraint made the impact that much more powerful.

Other highlights of the evening were a very masculine “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” by the men’s ensemble; the longing yet hopeful duet “We Kiss in the Shadow” featuring soprano Allison Angelo and tenor Matthew Anderson; and the beautifully arranged down-tempo medley of “A Cockeyed Optimist/It Might as Well Be Spring/What’s the Use of Wond’rin” sung as a sisterly duet between Angelo and mezzo soprano Sarah Kelsey. The 11 o’clock number which brought down the house went not to Clark but to baritone Alex Lawrence who infused Billy Bigelow’s “Soliloquy” from Carousel with fresh paternal interpretations and genuine spontaneity. His warm, unforced baritone expressed pride, bravado, uncertainty and determination to be the best father a son – or daughter – ever had.

The Pops’ best two instrumentals in the program were a plaintive and passionate My Funny Valentine, one of the greatest romantic ballads ever written, and a surprisingly jazzy The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, complete with clip-clopping horse hooves and the feel of a bobbing carriage in motion toward the horizon. The grand finale was a rootin’ tootin’ ensemble celebration of Oklahoma! complete with straw cowboy hats and a square-dancing Maestro.  

PHOTO: Victoria Clark


Garland Comes to Life in Stoneham

Kathy St. George presents her popular tribute “Dear Miss Garland” at the Stoneham Theatre

Kathy St. GeorgeThere are times during Kathy St. George’s performance of Dear Miss Garland – her musical “love letter” to the woman she says has fascinated her ever since she first saw the movie The Wizard of Oz – when her resemblance to the legendary singer and actress is uncanny. She has the same petite, four-foot-eleven frame as Judy had. She wears her dark hair close-cropped and tousled. She gestures her hands nervously and positions her arms akimbo on jutted hips in stunning visual recreations. And every so often she utters a pixie-ish little giggle that eerily reincarnates the late great star of the silver screen.

Interestingly, it is this very mastery of these iconic Judy mannerisms that is both a blessing and a curse for St. George. Where her physical mimicry succeeds brilliantly, her vocal interpretations fall short. Because of the visual similarities, the expectation is set that we are going to hear Judy in every note that St. George sings. When she doesn’t deliver any more than the occasional apt inflection, the cavalcade of memorable movie and concert songs ultimately disappoint.

In the first of two acts – which with an intermission prove to make the evening a bit too long and drawn out – St. George is in her element. She’s a terrific actress and comedienne who energetically weaves stories and song together as part documentary and part homage. She punctuates historical milestones and anecdotes, as well as her own personal musings, with unexpectedly reinterpreted songs. “You Made Me Love You,” Garland’s tribute to “Dear Mr. Gable” in Broadway Melody of 1938, becomes St. George’s tribute to “Dear Miss Garland.” “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart,” normally an up-tempo celebration, becomes a sad goodbye to her father who died two days after she sang it as her radio debut. “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis is also slowed, made into a tender love ballad honoring Judy’s husband and director Vincent Minnelli, whom she met – and fell in love with instantly – on the set.

Kathy St. George in OzThe highlight of Act I, however, is without a doubt St. George’s manic abridgement of The Wizard of Oz. In five minutes (more or less) she enacts the entire movie, playing all the characters – Toto, too! – using hilarious low-budget props to suggest a tornado, Glinda’s bubble, Auntie Em inside a crystal ball, and the Wizard’s fast-disappearing hot-air balloon. “No wonder Judy was on speed,” she quips as she brings the torrent of sight gags to a rapid end.

St. George then goes on to chronicle the alternating highs and lows of Judy’s life and career. Donning one of her many trademark outfits – black tails, bowler hat, white gloves, and white carnation in the lapel – she sings a lonely “Me and My Shadow” and dances a sad soft shoe. This is followed by two songs and a scene from Judy’s comeback film A Star Is Born – “New World,” “Somewhere There’s a Someone,” and the famous dressing room speech that proved once and for all that the youngest of the vaudeville-singing Gumm sisters could indeed act. Unfortunately, the show slows down significantly at this point. The “Somewhere There’s a Someone” production number never takes off, perhaps dragged down by the somber material surrounding it. And the Act I closer, Peter Allen’s “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage,” does nothing to build anticipation for the second act.

At rise of Act II it’s pretty clear that the format has shifted from memoirs to Carnegie Hall concert. Three parallel arches of marquee lights frame an excellent, tuxedoed, on-stage seven-piece band. St. George appears in a shimmering black dress with sequined skirt and sparkling silver jacket, hair now teased and sprayed into place and face brightened with rosy stage makeup. She also carries a handheld microphone and plays with its cord demonstratively, whipping it over her shoulder and dragging it dramatically behind as she executes spot-on Judy choreography.

Kathy St. George at Carnegie HallAgain St. George has Garland’s physical mannerisms down pat. But now even more than in the first act the disparity between her look and sound is jarring. We want so much to be treated to the original’s rich, effortless vocals that alternately resonate and soar on numbers like “Chicago,” “The Man That Got Away,” “Get Happy,” and “Over the Rainbow.” Instead we see the unmistakable energy and pizzazz of an unforgettable legend but hear the voice of a performer better suited to less iconic songs.

St. George is unquestionably an estimable talent, and her Dear Miss Garland touching and entertaining. But the show is a bit of a frustration. Without the dazzling vocal impersonations that are expected as a result of the imitative set up, the evening never achieves full-blown tribute concert status. Ironically, in a show that wants desperately to evoke memories of an entertainment giant, St. George is at her best when simply being St. George.

PHOTOS BY NEIL REYNOLDS: Kathy St. George as Judy Garland


“The Color Purple:” Tears When I’m Happy

Soul-stirring national tour of the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel makes a powerful impression at the Bushnell in Hartford, CT

Church LadiesI didn’t think The Color Purple would make me cry again after having seen the electrifying performance on Broadway of Fantasia Barrino, Tony Award winner LaChanze’s worthy replacement, shortly before the show ended its successful 910-performance run. But I was wrong. At the Bushnell in Hartford the other night the stellar cast of this powerful national tour – headed by the wonderful Kenita R. Miller in the title role – gently poured its spirit of hope and sisterhood over me until, in the show’s final jubilant moments, I could do nothing but succumb.

The Color Purple is a deftly abridged musical retelling of both Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Stephen Spielberg’s 1985 movie of the same name. With a potent and snappy book by Marsha Norman and a penetrating R&B, gospel, and African-influenced score by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, this uplifting tale of one woman’s remarkable journey from cowering victim to tower of strength is funny, moving and thrilling all at the same time.

Kenita MillerSpanning 40 years in rural Georgia from 1909 to 1949, The Color Purple chronicles the sexual, emotional, and spiritual awakening of the introverted and abused Celie, whose only foothold against darkness and despair is her ability to express her thoughts and feelings through letters to God. Separated from her sister and two children when no more than a child herself and given away by her widowed father to serve as the overbearing Mister’s housekeeper, wife and field hand, Celie gradually emerges as a self-reliant and joyful woman thanks to the inspiration of the defiant Sofia and the love of her husband’s beautiful and exciting mistress Shug Avery. Shug teaches Celie to see her own good and rejoice in life’s beauty, even when prayers seem to fall on deaf ears.

The story, although skillfully condensed, is still packed with salient plot points and narrative detail. But the smooth integration of the music with the book, the fluid staging by director Gary Griffin, and the energetic choreography by Donald Byrd sustain the show’s momentum and make a lasting emotional impression. So, too, do the exquisite performances by the entire cast.

Felicia FieldsAs the pained yet ever hopeful Celie, Kenita R. Miller is quite simply stunning. Her face is a canvas on which her emotions appear with breathtaking sincerity, and her voice infuses every song with a resonance that is deeply moving. “I’m Here,” her self-affirming anthem in which she finally embraces her own virtues and celebrates her unwavering inner strength and dignity, is a triumph of determination over adversity.

The warm and wise Angela Robinson is a richly drawn Shug Avery. Sexy, hedonistic, and completely in charge when it comes to her many men, she also reveals a world-weary savvy and vulnerability that make her appreciation of and attraction to Celie tantalizing and completely natural. As Sofia, Broadway holdover Felicia P. Fields is as deliciously domineering as ever. She has an indomitable spirit that turns her big number “Hell, No” into a confidence-building mantra for all of womankind. That great comic swagger which is the hallmark of her personality early on makes it all the more heartbreaking when a brutal beating and incarceration drub her into catatonic submission.

Brandon Victor Dixon and Felicia FieldsBrandon Victor Dixon as Sofia’s on-again-off-again husband Harpo is an adorable boy/man whose sparkling love-hate relationship with Sofia brings many lighter moments to the show. Their playful duet “Any Little Thing” which marks their long-overdue reconciliation is both humorous and steamy. Rufus Bonds, Jr. as Celie’s abusive husband Mister garners all the enmity he deserves, but he also manages to earn a modicum of sympathy when his own tortured past comes to life in a gut-wrenching soliloquy called “Celie’s Curse.” As Nettie, Celie’s gentle older sister whose promise of survival is the only spiritual lifeline Celie has, Latrisa A. Harper (the understudy for LaToya London) gives an understated performance glowing with compassion and love. Soft voiced and delicately featured, she conveys a placid optimism that ignites Miller’s joy whenever they make a connection, real or imagined.

The Color Purple is a soul-stirring story energized by an infectious score. At times sad, at times infuriating, but ultimately triumphant, its message of hope and faith soars on a joyful noise.

PHOTOS BY PAUL KOLNIK: The Church Ladies (from left) Lynette DuPree, Virginia Ann Woodruff, Kimberly Ann Harris; Kenita R. Miller as Celie; Felicia P. Fields as Sofia; Brandon Victor Dixon as Harpo and Felicia P. Fields

Linda Eder Sings Judy with the Pops

A Tribute to Judy Garland: Linda Eder and the Boston Pops

What could be more comforting to Bostonians on a dark and stormy night than to listen to a great concert with the Boston Pops and be told by Maestro Keith Lockhart after intermission that the Red Sox are beating the Yanks 6-0? It doesn’t get much better than this.

That is, until Linda Eder takes the stage.

The slender pop singer with the effortless big belt delivers a scintillating program of Judy Garland standards ranging from jazzy up-tempo medleys of “Almost Like Being in Love/This Can’t Be Love” and “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart/The Trolley Song” to creamy romantic ballads like “You Made Me Love You” and the seldom heard “All for You.” With a silken voice that moves easily between caressing and celebrating a lyric, Eder sings Garland in her own unique style, paying homage not by imitating but by reinventing. Her arrangements, courtesy of music director and piano accompanist John Oddo, are fresh and jazzy, suggesting the Big Bands that backed her idol but never begging comparison.

Eder transitions from a supple, sultry vibrato to a powerful, unforced belt with the kind of smooth Linda Ederpurity and facility that are reminiscent of Garland but never self-consciously so. Her moody “By Myself” is particularly effective, ranging from a soft, slow sadness in the beginning to a loud and proud, joyously liberated finish in which she positively beams. Her “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” sung as a down-tempo lullaby with just a hint of piano accompaniment, is quite simply magnificent. So powerful is her gentle plea that the audience sits transfixed, quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

Throughout the performance Eder appears relaxed and glowing, even when she forgets the words to the fast-paced, Bossa Nova-inflected “You Go to My Head” from Judy’s Carnegie Hall comeback triumph. Having announced the song as the one Judy stumbled on during that concert, Eder jokes, “I guess I jinxed myself. I’ve never forgotten the words to this song before. I forget words to other songs – I know because I read it on the internet all the time – but never this one.”

The interplay between Eder and the Boston Pops under the always superb direction of Maestro Lockhart is a seamless blend of emotional vocals and evocative instrumentation. Interpretations are almost intuitively synchronized, with the Pops alternating between subdued support when Eder croons and robust leadership when she dramatically soars. Two Frank Wildhorn pop tunes – Eder’s signature “Someone Like You” from Broadway’s Jekyll and Hyde and “Vienna” from her solo album titled It’s No Secret Anymore here become symphonic sensations.

As a prelude to Eder’s spellbinding concert segment, the Pops went “off book” in the first act, scratching the Tchaikovsky Polonaise from Eugene Onegin that was announced in the program in favor of three epic movie themes – Miklos Rozsa’s Ben Hur, Randy Newman’s The Natural, and John Williams’ magical and mysterious Harry Potter. During the latter the orchestra’s percussion section became so enthusiastic that a photo was actually shaken loose of its frame by the rumbling of a “thunder sheet.”

Act I ended with the performance of a haunting new work by Michael Daugherty called Spaghetti Western. Featuring principal English horn player Robert Sheena, the symphony in three movements painted a moody picture of a sleepy, dusty Southwestern town being threatened by the approach of a phantom stagecoach pulled by wildly galloping horses. The piece culminated in a musical confrontation at “high noon” between the lone English horn player and the villainous dissonant orchestra.

Act II opened with – appropriately enough for a night on which the Red Sox and the Yankees began a three-game home series – Dropkick Murphys’ “Shipping Up to Boston,” complete with video highlights of the Sox’ 2007 Championship Season. At the sight of Papelbon’s trademark celebratory Irish jig and one of Ortiz’s many memorable walk-off homeruns, the Symphony Hall audience began cheering right along with the on-screen Fenway Park fans.

Such a setup could be daunting for a vocalist less seasoned than Linda Eder. But as soon as this consummate pro took the stage and began to sing, the Red Sox were relegated to warm-up act status. Quiet please, there’s most definitely a talented lady on stage.

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL J. LUTCH: Linda Eder with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops



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