PhilDev’s Suites By Sondheim benefit concert at Lincoln Center was like reaching into a cereal box of Stephen Sondheim’s Lucky Charms and scooping out a handful of marshmallows. The concert, held at Alice Tully Hall on November 7 to benefit the Philippine Development Foundation, featured songs only among the composer’s biggest hits. Performing the sweeping
numbers were 36 Broadway actors of Filipino descent, including concert headliner Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon), Adam Jacobs (The Lion King), T.V. Carpio (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), and Ali Ewoldt (Les Miserables).
Jose Llana led a lively ensemble opener with the title song to Company, followed by a cutesy “You Could Drive A Person Crazy” by Carpio, Liz Casola, and Jaygee Macapugay. Llana closed out the Company set with a solid “Being Alive.”
The West Side Story segment was among the strongest of the night, reuniting Jacobs and Ewoldt, who played Marius and Cosette in the 2006 revival of Les Miserables. They sang a shiver-inducing “One Hand, One Heart,” which exemplified their pitch-perfect chemistry. Joan Almedilla joined Ewoldt for a ferocious “A Boy Like That,” which they beautifully juxtaposed with a haunting “I Have A Love.” Read more
It was an evening that would make any performer green. Tony winner Idina Menzel, famed for her emerald-skinned turn as Elphaba in Wicked, made her New York Philharmonic debut Saturday night at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. Yet in an environment of elegance and sophistication, Menzel was geeking out over her conductor. Well, in her defense, the conductor was Marvin Hamlisch.
The EGOT winner (30 Rock-speak for someone who has won all four Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards) and composer of A Chorus Line and many Barbra Streisand standards was on the receiving end of many gushings from Menzel throughout the concert. At one point, she asked for permission to climb up onto his conductor’s podium so that she may kiss him. Hamlisch obliged, and the embrace evoked a collective “Aww” from the sold-out house.
In addition to her songs, which included musical theater classics and selections from Rent and Wicked, Menzel was in great comedic spirit. Taking long breaks between songs, she told stories of her youth (her family’s most requested song of hers was “The Way We Were”), her life with husband Taye Diggs and 17-month-old son Walker (she and Diggs compose original lullabies and argue over who gets to vocally shine), and of her career (singing for Streisand at the Kennedy Center and being upstaged by Beyonce).
Menzel’s comedy was well received by the Lincoln Center audience, which can typically be an upturned-nose crowd. She embodied a jovial attitude that mixed well with her elegance. Menzel took the stage (barefoot) in an elegant and simple white dress with a thin black belt. Her radiance was a reflection of the night—a special achievement in her career. Read more