I’m Pinocchio

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Today’s Stage Notes was prerecorded. If you read this and then go to the second and final performance of Broadway Rocks, the first Pops concert music director Ward Stare has conducted in Rochester, you’ll think I was a bit hyperbolic.  Don’t get me wrong, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra was fantastic, especially the rhythm section, which is vitally important to a concert like Broadway Rocks, but overall the concert fell flat. I had higher expectations.

The main problem could have been the sound, particularly during the first act – it was muffled. From the Loge, I could barely hear the guest soloists and the choir from Roberts Wesleyan College.

The repertoire was outstanding—some of the biggest Broadway hits, including songs from Wicked, Hairspray, Jersey Boys, and The Phantom of the Opera were performed.

Before the concert, I knew little about Capathia Jenkins. She is all that and more! She brought down the house with her renditions of “And I’m Telling You I’m not Going” from Dreamgirls and “I will Survive.” She and the RPO are what make this concert worth attending.

Another guest vocalist, Rob Evan, could have survived without amplification. His highlights were Dennis DeYoung’s (lead singer from Styx) song “Come Sail Away” and “The Music of the Night,” from The Phantom of The Opera. His voice is strong; however, he could use a stylist.

I’ve seen guest vocalist Christiane Noll on Broadway and at Eastman. In general, I’ve been impressed. This concert is not suited for her. She seemed uncomfortable on stage. That’s not dancing, Sally! (Seinfeld reference.) She decimated a song that should have elevated the concert, “Defying Gravity.” Although the choir would have drowned her vocals out, I’m not sure why they weren’t included at the songs conclusion to proclaim “no one mourns the wicked.” Noll’s voice is pretty, as proved during the Theme from The Phantom of The Opera, but she’s no rocker.

Ward Stare’s forte is Classical conducting – last night he proved he’s a Pops pro, too. Rochester is lucky to have him. Please let me know when he conducts the RPO and the Capathia Jenkins show. I’ll be there.

Broadway Rocks is on stage in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre tonight at 8 PM. Tickets and information at RPO.org.

Happy Birthday, Ronnie Kroell (The King of Peace)

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“Birthday Song” by Carole King

Happy Birthday
Celebrate your day in style
Happy Birthday
Tonight I want to see you smile
Your whole life is in front of you, you’ve only just begun
So Happy Birthday
The best is yet to come

Happy Birthday to you
The good things I could say about you are infinite
But I will only take a minute
To say the world is a better place with you in it
With you in it

Happy Birthday
You know just how to be
Happy Birthday
I’m glad you’re you with me
To know you is to love you, to love you is to be blessed
So Happy Birthday
You deserve the best

Every time I ever reach out for you
You never let me down
Any time you’re ever in need of a friend
I will always be around

Happy Birthday
You are everything that’s good
You are everything that matters
I would give you the world if I could
You will always be a part of me and all that I go through
So Happy Birthday, dear friend
May all your dreams come true
Happy birthday to you

The Haunting Music of Broadway – Full Program

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BOO! Robert Hammond hosts the spooktacular fifth edition of The Haunting Music of Broadway. In celebration of Halloween, he featured chilling songs from Broadway musicals and the movies, including The Phantom of the Opera, The Omen, and Sweeney Todd. Click below to listen to the full program.  Follow Robert on Twitter @stagenotes.

LISTEN Aired – 10/25/14

Hello! It’s Time for a Spooky Mormon Hell Dream with David Larsen

bom_logoFrom the creators of South Park, and winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical, The Book of Mormon is taking the nation by storm.   The second Broadway tour stars David Larsen in the role of Elder Kevin Price.  He Joined host Robert Hammond on Stage Notes to discuss his enormous role and why The Book of Mormon is a sweeping success. Special thanks to Broadway star Tom Deckman for arranging this interview with David.

Follow Robert on Twitter @stagenotes.

LISTEN to full program. Aired week of 9/21/14

As the show opens we are introduced to the LDS Church Missionary Training Centre where Elder Price and his classmates of missionaries-to-be demonstrate their daily attempts to convert the public to Mormonism through door to door campaigns with the song “Hello.” Elder Price is looking forward to his two year mission, and prays he will be posted to Orlando, the world of Disney Land. Instead, he and Elder Arnold Cunningham, a nerdy overweight missionary played by Cody Jamison Strand, are posted to Uganda.  At Salt Lake City Airport, spunky Elder Price talks about how he hopes to change the world and make a difference to the people of Uganda, aided somewhat by the incompetent Elder Cunningham.

David Larsen in the role of Elder Kevin Price

South Park creators-writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Tony-winning Avenue Q songwriter Robert Lopez collaborated on the script and score to the musical, which earned Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Score and Best Musical.

Co-directed by Parker and Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon opened to critical acclaim March 24, 2011, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. Both earned Tony Awards for their work and repeat their duties for the tour.

David Larsen

Broadway: Hands on a Hardbody (Chris Alvaro), American Idiot (Tunny), Billy Elliot (Tony u/s), Good Vibrations (Bobby). TV: Boston Public (3 episode guest star). Regional: Leading roles at Hollywood Bowl, Marriott Lincolnshire, St. Louis Rep, KC Starlight, Bay Street Theatre, and Goodspeed. Contributor for Just Desserts NYC. Oregon native with a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.  Follow David on Twitter @dlarsen22.

That’s a Show Tune?

POP aSpread the word!!  Stage Notes is officially bi-coastal beginning Sunday (9/7) at 6 PM (PST) on KWXY 107.3, The Sound of the Desert in Palm Springs, California. I’m thrilled Stage Notes will be a part of KWXY’s fantastic programming.  Live stream at KWXY.com. 

Some of Broadway’s best show tunes are not just heard on the stage.There are some that really stand out, permeating pop culture, touching a nerve, and inspiring even the shyest to belt the lyrics.  Crooners  from the Rat Pack, Rosemary Clooney, and Tony Bennett would warble their own versions of top tunes from current shows and all of America would listen to them on the airwaves.  Join host Robert Hammond for this week’s Stage Notes.  He’ll feature some of Broadway’s best “pop” songs.

In the 1960s Broadway took a backseat to rock groups as teenagers dominated record sales. The Beatles recorded a memorable version of “Till There Was You” from The Music Man and Louis Armstrong’s Dixieland spin on “Hello, Dolly” was a hit, but the theater was no longer a major player in the record industry. Today the trend is changing with songs from Les Meserables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked seeping into the mainstream through TV shows like Glee and American Idol.

Follow Robert on Twitter @stagenotes

Broadway Hits the Silver Screen

1982-broadway-to-hollywood-thumbnailWith Les Misérables recent gigantic leap from stage to the silver screen,  Stage Notes host Robert Hammond showcased songs from some of the best Hollywood adaptations from the Great White Way, including Gentlemen prefer Blondes, Dreamgirls, West Side Story, and The Phantom of the Opera.

LISTEN Aired 8/9/14