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MSO Pops rocks

September 26, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • The MSO Pops concert at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown Saturday featured Broadway performers, left to right, Capathia Jenkins, Robert Evan, and Christiane Noll backed by the Shenandoah Chorus of Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- The mention of show tunes, for some, might call to mind the syrupy standards of Rodgers and Hammerstein or the bawdy rhymes of Cole Porter.

But Saturday night at The Maryland Theatre, the MSO Pops concert brought into focus a different but equally viable style of show tune -- namely, the rock show tune.

"Broadway Rocks!" offered hits from "Hairspray," "Rent," "Wicked," "Jersey Boys," "Mama Mia," "The Phantom of the Opera" and other contemporary shows.

Maryland Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Andrew Kipe said the show offered "a more modern, more contemporary brand of Broadway."

"It's extra high energy. A lot of fun from beginning to end," Kipe said before the concert. "If people are not dancing by the time the show is over, they missed something."

Kipe said he and Music Director Elizabeth Schulze were inspired to present "Broadway Rocks!" after seeing the show performed by the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va.

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"We were blown away. We said, 'We have to do this,'" Kipe said. "And here we are."

Veteran Broadway performers Rob Evan, Christiane Noll and Capathia Jenkins, and the Shenandoah Chorus of Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va., lent formidable vocal talents to the MSO Pops performance.

The show opened with "Rocks Overture" which included samples from "Hey Jude," "Pinball Wizard" and "Proud Mary." The first act was punctuated by Evan's and Noll's duet "Total Eclipse." The song from the musical "Dance of the Vampires," in which Evan starred, was the inspiration for Bonnie Tyler's 1982 hit recording "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

At the end of the first act, Jenkins geared up for "You Can't Stop the Beat" from "Hairspray," inviting the audience to stand up and dance.

"If you feel like getting up and shaking your groove thing, this is the song to do it," Jenkins said.

Even the more than 100 members of the Shenandoah Chorus rocked on their risers behind the orchestra during the number.

During intermission, Kristen Larrison of Hagerstown said the show was "awesome."

"I like the soloists, the chorus in the background, and the fact that it's Broadway but it's more current," Larrison said.

Her favorite number was the rhythmic, chant-driven "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King."

Judy and Phil Myerly of Hagerstown also named "Circle of Life" as a pleaser, along with Jenkins' sassy, soulful offering of "Proud Mary."

"I think this is terrific," Judy Myerly said. "It is kind of traditional even though it's rock. Rock is traditional now."

Paula Dennis of Hagerstown went to the show with her daughter Andrea Longnecker and her 13-year-old granddaughter Alanna Longnecker of Shepherdstown, W.Va. Dennis said she regularly attends MSO events, and she was impressed by the size of the crowd.

"This is the most people I have ever seen in the theater before. It's so full," Dennis said.

Concert attendance is up this year, Kipe said. He estimated the crowd to be more than 1,000 people, and said he looked forward to getting the final count.

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