By Mike Keenan
The Niagara Symphony Orchestra’s Pops Series has begun with a splash with Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” in Concert, one of my all-time favourites, the brilliant 1961 film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, adapted from the 1957 Broadway musical, in turn inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
You could not leave Partridge Hall without wanting to click your fingers and the lyrics from “Gee, Officer Krupke,” “Tonight” and the achingly beautiful “Somewhere” resonating in your brain.
The orchestra was in fine shape under animated maestro Bradley Thachuk, sometimes thrusting his baton so energetically that I thought he might launch from his small podium into the violin section, but in “West Side Story,” it’s really the brass that gets a full workout. Trumpets, French horns, trombones, tuba and the percussionists all up to the task.
All of the young soloists performed well particularly leads Robert Markus as Tony and Meher Pavri as Maria, while Kaylee Harwood added sizzle and spice as Anita.
Markus is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA program and has performed with some of Ontario’s largest theatres, including Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, and most recently, Mirvish Theatre, as Evan Hansen in the Canadian premiere of “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Soprano Meher Pavri from London, Ontario boasts credits with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Soulpepper, Vancouver Opera and Opera Atelier.
Harwood from Vancouver, has appeared on NYC’s Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, and both Stratford and Shaw Festivals.
A recurrent problem in Partridge Hall surfaces whenever Chorus Niagara or the NSO perform en masse. It involves lack of space with soloists, a chorus or dancing. The second act seemed to end rather quickly, and there was a pas de deux that could have been omitted. Otherwise, I’m still humming all those addictive tunes.
Next in the Pops Series is “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 7:30PM and Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 2:30PM in Partridge Hall. Nutcracker is an enchanting folk tale, ballet classic and cherished family tradition that’s popular with grandparents and grandchildren. This holiday season, Clara, her Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy and a host of colourful characters will come to life in an orchestra-only performance of Tchaikovsky’s delightful score.
More about the NSO is available at their website: https://www.niagarasymphony.com/
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