Soloists, instrumentalists perform in first-rate style for vocal society concert

Review

Arundel Live

May 17, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For their 18th spring concert, director Glenette Schumacher and her 70-voice Arundel Vocal Arts Society presented Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" in the first half of the program, followed in the second half by some of Broadway's brightest musical lights, such as Jule Styne, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Meredith Willson and Leonard Bernstein.

Saturday's program at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center featured six fine soloists and a terrific trio of instrumentalists - Cynthia Slate on piano, Adrian Cox on bass and percussionist William Watson.

The choristers displayed a high degree of professionalism in their clear articulation of tricky lyrics and zestful singing of the Gilbert and Sullivan score spoofing certain British traditions and Italian operas. To deliver "Pirates of Penzance" deftly, Schumacher assembled a fine group of soloists, more than half from society ranks, and she gave them enough room to make distinct interpretations.

The hero Frederic was well-sung by Jeffrey Sneeringer, who possesses a fine tenor voice and enough acting skill to convey with a light touch all the required emotions. He was especially effective in his duets with Vicki Shaw, delightful as Mabel. Shaw so easily negotiated all the hazardous trills in the coloratura soprano stratosphere that it seemed nearly effortless.

Baritone James Hadakas played the swashbuckling Pirate King with flair and good humor. Sally Gilles was delightful as nurse Ruth, and Michael Gilles was outstanding as he proved he truly was the "very model of a major general."

With the exception of Shaw, who delivered a fine rendition of "What's the Use of Wond'rin'" from "Carousel," all soloists in the second half of the program were plucked from vocal society ranks.

Bill Lewis and John Ward sang "All I Need Is the Girl" from Styne's "Gypsy." Weldon Ward nicely handled the Styne tune "Three Coins in the Fountain," and Jeffrey Miller's "Make Someone Happy" by Styne made a lot of us happy indeed.

Sally Gilles sang Styne's "Don't Rain on My Parade" from "Funny Girl" and offered a riveting "Some People," where she became Mama Rose from "Gypsy" at her determined, defiant best.

Together, the vocalists did a first-rate job with nearly every song, adding pizazz to "Let Me Entertain You" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses" in the Jule Styne segment. In the Rodgers and Hammerstein "Carousel" section, the choristers brought infectious enthusiasm to "A Real Nice Clambake" and "June is Bustin' Out All Over" along with a beautiful blending of voices in a heartfelt "You'll Never Walk Alone."

From Willson's "The Music Man," I loved the gals' "Pick a Little, Talk a Little" balanced with the guys' "Goodnight Ladies." A spirited version of "The Wells Fargo Wagon" - complete with the sounds of horses' hooves supplied by percussionist Watson - also was outstanding, as was "Seventy-Six Trombones."

Throughout most of the evening, I wished that the choristers could have looked as happy as they sounded. Too many looked down at their scores instead of out at their appreciative audience.

The evening ended with a spectacular version of Bernstein's "Make Our Garden Grow" from "Candide" - a gem of a number that makes great tessitura demands of the sopranos and tenors and presents intricate melodies and complex harmonies, all perfectly realized Saturday.

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