Uncle Sam headlines concert

May 20, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The 50-member Arundel Vocal Arts Society concluded its 15th season Saturday with "Songs for My Uncle Sam -- An American Songbook," a rousing production directed by Glenette Schumacher and accompanied by Cynthia Slate on piano, Helen Schlaich on woodwind, Ginger Turner on trumpet, Peter Hengen on bass and William Watson on percussion.

The program was a patriotic melange drawn from musical theater, folk songs, and pop songs of the World War II era. The society presented a Broadway combination, including a song from Johnny Mercer's seldom-heard "Li'l Abner," familiar George M. Cohan tunes of "George M" and most of the songs from the less familiar "1776."

Narrator Michael Gilles introduced the selections and provided interesting background notes.

Sherman Edward's "1776" showcased the acting and singing of baritone James Handakas in "Is Anybody There?" and the vocal expertise of soprano Vicki Estep and tenor Jeff Sneeringer in the duet "Yours, Yours, Yours."

A dozen society choristers joined Handakas in "Sit Down, John" from "1776" and added to the full-bodied sound of the haunting "Mamma, Look Sharp." The male voices added a much-needed rousing note throughout the program.

The high point of the folk song medley "Festival of Freedom" was the spiritual "Deep River."

Cohan's "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Harrigan" were also great.

The society gave a stirring rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and reached a different kind of peak with "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

Solos of note included Estep's "He Plays the Violin" from "1776" and "White Cliffs of Dover."

Handakas and Sneeringer were highly amusing in the comic duet from Li'l Abner" "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands," updated to include a nod to Paula Jones.

Alto Sally Gilles, who also serves as rehearsal assistant, added her own charm to the World War II tune, "Sailor of My Dreams" and joined the other soloists in an inspirational singing of "Declaration of Independence."

All patriotic concerts seem to include both Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" and an "Armed Forces Salute." The society invited a representative from each branch of the armed forces to appear on stage for the latter. They each saluted the audience and stood smartly at attention throughout the medley.

The near-capacity audience at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center offered a standing ovation in return.

The society is planning its holiday concert for Dec. 5 at a location to be announced.

Information: 410-268-3131.

Pub Date: 5/20/99

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